SoM Squash Stretch Feature Image

Exaggerate your animation using squash and stretch in After Effects

August 7, 2023
School of Motion Logo

School of Motion is reimagining art school with world-class training that is available on your schedule from anywhere on Earth. They offer a wide variety of courses that can take your creative goals to the next level. Check out their website to see all of their offerings.

A version of the below article originally appeared on School of Motion’s blog.

Using squash and stretch

Squash and Stretch is an “easy to learn, hard to master” principle, mostly because it’s very easy to overdo it. Want to show that your object is moving fast? Maybe your animation needs to feel heavy and make an impact. But how?

Squash and Stretch is a super simple animation principle to grasp, but a little trickier to implement. The tools in After Effects are set up very intuitively for it, but there are plenty of ways to work around that and get your animations looking awesome.

Jacob Richardson shows us how effective squash and stretch can be for exaggerating movement and adding a little more life to your animations. Check out this quick tip, and then head over to School of Motion to download the project files if you’d like to follow along.

Squash and stretch After Effects tutorial

What is squash and stretch?

From the 12 principles of animation, Squash and Stretch is an amazing way of separating amateur work from professional work. This may seem like an easy principle to apply, but when you start to dig into it this can be a hard one to master.

How does squash and stretch work and what’s happening? To start off, let’s break down the two different terms.

By manipulating an object’s shape through stretching its height, you can help give your object a sense of speed. Stretching is also a good way of showing strain on an object, and can help show how moldable or “squishy” your objects are.

Why use squash and stretch

We’re trying to tell stories using animation, and in those stories, we are attempting to give an illusion of life. Squashing can really help the viewer understand the up or down impact being dealt on an object. For example, an object hitting the ground or a person’s cheek gathering when being punched. Like stretch, squash can show how moldable or squishy your objects are.

Wine After Coffee showcased this clean animation for Blend a few years ago, and the squash and stretch principle is so well done. Check out the video below, and notice how you can tell the difference between solid objects and their counterparts, providing a truly dynamic experience.

When it comes to giving more detail about your animated subjects, keep in mind how loose or rigid your object is. If you have a bowling ball dropping into your scene, it’s probably not going to change shape very much. But if you have a stress ball being tossed back and forth, then it has the potential to really get bent out of shape!

See if you can spot the subtle squash and stretch details in this adorable animation created by the legendary Jorge R. Canedo E. from Ordinary Folk, below.

These rules can easily be broken if you’re wanting to spice up an animation, or even if you’re looking to show speed using traditional smear frames. Smear frames come from hand-drawn animations, but this isn’t the article for that. Instead, you can read more about them here if you would like. Definitely an eye-opener.

Here’s a really cool onion skin of a bunny hop created by Markus Magnusson as an example:

School of Motion GIF example

Ready to learn more about animation?


Are you ready to take your animation skills to the next level? Check out Animation Bootcamp. Animation Bootcamp is School of Motion’s most popular course, and for a good reason. It has helped transform motion design careers across the globe.

Not only will you learn how to master the graph editor, but you’ll also learn the principles of animation alongside hundreds of other students. If you’re ready to dig deep and take on a challenge, head on over to their courses page to find out more!

Related posts:

This Creative Drawing Exercise Will Change How You Use References – with Bobby Chiu

This Creative Drawing Exercise Will Change How You Use References – with Bobby Chiu

The top seven digital painting mistakes to avoid, with Proko

The top seven digital painting mistakes to avoid, with Proko

Let’s Get Animated with Josh Pinker! Episode 1: Toon Boom Basics

Let’s Get Animated with Josh Pinker! Episode 1: Toon Boom Basics

How to design your own custom Holiday wrapping paper

How to design your own custom Holiday wrapping paper

Connect with Wacom on social media

Someone else craving a Matcha fish? 🍦🐠

Thank you @patrick_4d for showing us the behind the work of your amazing art 🎨

#3dart #conceptartist #digitalpainting
616 7
We’re excited to announce that Panchita!! premieres tomorrow! Thank you to @weareunsaid and all partners who worked on this labor of love, a short film based on a true experience from a volunteer who got to see the reality lived every day in informal settlements. Look out for the link tomorrow in our reels and stories highlights. 💙⁣
#madewithwacom #unsaidstudio #panchitamovie #panchita
212 2
Embrace creativity on-the-go with the new Wacom One. 🚀⁣
Sketch your ideas in a coffee shop or any spot that inspires you! 🎨 ☕⁣
Your studio is wherever you are 💫⁣
Where is your favorite place to draw?⁣
#Artistlife #Creativity #Creativeinspiration #Artistsinsight
218 1
#WacomSale alert! 📣🛍️🛒⁣
Know of someone dreaming of a Wacom? Save $80 USD on Wacom #IntuosPro right now! Head over to our USA estore to find out more - visit the link in our bio! ⁣
#WacomIntuosPro #IntuosPro #WacomTablet #WacomNews⁣
#Wacom #GiftGuide
163 0
Five mobile games you didn't know you could play using #WacomOne 😏🎮⁣
@apolloscelticswan 🤘🏼
#wacom #gaming #gamer #gamertok #cozygames
542 5
Ever dreamed of starting your carreer as an artist but don’t know where to start? @janwischermann  professional photo retoucher, shares a pearl of wisdom for all you emerging artists out there. ✨

Take that first step with the Wacom One and see where it takes you. Discover more in the link in bio!

#CreativeInspiration #Photoretouching #Artistsinsights
245 9
🎉 A heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who made Connected Ink event 2023 an unforgettable celebration of creativity! 🚀✨

Let’s keep the creative sparks alive and enjoy this awesome after-event movie! 🔥✨

See you next year!

#ConnectedInk #CreativeChaos
389 15
Many artists start with traditional tools before they switch to digital, and transitioning can feel daunting and even scary - making them delay it. ⁣
But is it ever too late to start? ⁣
Our friend @apolloscelticswan has some words of wisdom for those starting "late" in digital art. ⁣
When did you make the transition to digital? Was it scary? What helped you?⁣
Let us know in the comments 👇⁣
#DigitalArt #DigitalArtist #WacomTablet #MadeWithWacom #ArtistLife
2800 27
A little piece of the creative process of @amanda.ninji_illustration 💫

We love to see the work behind the final piece ❤️ 

Share yours with the hashtag #MadewithWacom so we can feature you next!

#Cintiq16 #conceptartist #digitalpainting
684 7