Cutting out the leg work in Walk Cycles
Posted 19th May 2017 by Steve Gregson
One of the most long winded bits of animation that we need to create on a regular basis are walk cycles; animation loops used to make a character walk.
A lot of the time these will need to be bespoke as characters will usually walk in a slightly different way depending on their size and shape, but sometimes we need to have a walk cycle ready for smaller budget projects.
Recently, we’ve been working on a way to have a walk cycle that can work for a variety of characters. This way, if we need a quick solution for an animation, we have one.
What we’ve done is created a basic ‘Dummy’ version of an average character that we can animate, then replace with one of our characters.
This is our dummy character created in Adobe Illustrator.
What we do next is take this character into Adobe After Effects and join up the layers by linking them at the joints, creating an animatable character puppet.
Once the character is linked together we can keyframe in the movements. Once the basic movements are in place, we tidy up the basic motion and polish up the walk cycle.
Once the motion is ready, we can start the process of changing the character.
By layering up the character in the same way as the dummy, we can basically swap over the character layers and have a new look for the character!
Here’s a new character built to use the same motion.
Once the character is swapped out the animation should work with the new layers, but we can slightly adjust the motion to fit the new character:
To make sure this worked with multiple character types, we made a totally different body shape and adjusted the animation slightly to make an animation for this big guy:
This should be a simple way to create a walk cycle for multiple characters, meaning that if a project doesn’t have the budget for a bespoke walk cycle, or a strict time constraints, we can still deliver walk cycles in our projects.
We’ve applied the same principles to other re-usable animation loops, and in general this animation process works well.
Hopefully this is a nice peek behind the curtain of our animation process, or at least a version of it! This method should hopefully mean that we can create complex animation loops, even when the budget or time would normally not allow us to do so!