Animate the Walking Movement

The movement of a walking character is usually a central part of a film and therefore very important for any animation.

A so-called walk-cycle describes the poses required to make a figure move two steps forward. You can then repeat this process until the figure has arrived at its destination. The walk-cycle described here consists of eight pictures and is suitable for frame rates of 12 to 15 frames per second. If you want smoother movements and higher frame rates, you have to insert poses in between.

The Walk-Cycle

Here you see all eight intermediate steps of the animation. Starting point is a neutral pose with arms and legs in resting position.

In the next image, you start the movement by slightly lifting one leg and rotating each arm in opposite directions.

For the third frame you balance the figure between the pimples of the bottom plate. The arms reach the extreme point of their vibration. Here it should be noted that the head and upper body of the figure by the position of the legs are slightly higher than in the remaining poses. The movement thus follows a curve, as is the case with a real human walking motion.

At frame 4, the figure shifts the weight on the front foot, which is thus fixed on the bottom plate. The figure moves down a bit again. The arms swing back to land in the next frame together with the legs in neutral position.

For the full walk-cycle, you will perform this sequence of movements mirrored a second time with the other leg.

Refining the movement

This walk-cycle serves its purpose and you can use it as a backbone for every walk. But without minor adjustments and the application of certain animation principles, it looks very mechanically! It lacks the personalized character animation. Such adjustments may be, for example, a slight rotation of the head or the movement of the hands. These movements and other details, such as the upper body posture, make the walk cycle seem natural and fluid. The aim is to move the character as realistically as possible and in line with the human body through such small additional movements. Depending on the desired effect you may exaggerate the movements, such as the swinging of the arms. Small changes in the movement also underline the personality and emotions of the character. You can represent about depression through a bowed upper body. Or a cheerful walk with exaggerated movements of the arms and legs.

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