Ah, the walk cycle.Â Itâ€™s the bane of many an animatorâ€™s existence, and yet itâ€™s a necessary evil.Â Getting them to look right is a challenge, especially in the world of animatics.Â With limited time and limited resources, we still need to do the best we can with what we have to make these characters move naturally.Â There are a few tips to streamline your work and make these as painless as possible, all while hopefully making your animatic come to life.
*this is not a tutorial, but a list of suggested approaches
In the world of animatics, a perfected walk cycle is one way to bring to life a newly formed character that only existed previously in storyboard form.Â With the latest versions of Adobe After Effects at our fingers, the puppet tool will become, if itâ€™s not already, your new best friend.Â Gone are the days of breaking limbs out at each and every joint.Â Now, the artist can just draw one solid layer (be it a leg, arm, etc.) and you can simply add joints to create a more fluid animation in the process.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?Â When preparing to animate your characterâ€™s walk cycle, take a look at Dr. Google first.Â There are hundreds of tutorials on animating walk cycles.Â However, what I find to be the most helpful is taking videos of people walking from a site like YouTube or Vimeo and pulling them into my comp.Â Make sure the angle and speed of the person walking on screen is what you want to emulate in your animation.Â Then start key framing away on top of the existing video.Â Typically, once you have one cycle of the animation complete you can loop the animation for the duration of the frame, depending on the sceneâ€™s direction.
One of the easiest things you can do to prep yourself for animating a walk cycle is to go outside and observe.Â Wrap your head around the intricacies of the movements of the human body by watching them in action.Â This will be your best research when it comes to making a walk cycle look as natural as possible.
Once you feel youâ€™ve created the best possible walk cycle, itâ€™s time to celebrate.Â Grab a beer!Â Grab two!Â Donâ€™t drink?Â Eat some cookies!Â Donâ€™t like cookies?Â Then I canâ€™t help you.Â But in all seriousness, relax and enjoy your accomplishmentâ€¦ until the revisions pour in.
Kim WhiteÂ has been with EdseyArt for 6 years as a guru in motion graphics, animatics, video editing, and 2D/3D product demos.