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Burning Question: How do I create a Walk Cycle?

Burning Question: How do I create a Walk Cycle?


I remember my first time trying to make a walk cycle with a comic I used to draw. It was a challenge. I ended up getting this great book How To Draw Cartoon And Paint Animation (How To Draw Series 26) by Preston J. Blair. The book is now out of print, but Preston Blair has released many other books on the topic. If you’re really interested in learning to draw walk cycles, I highly recommend picking up a book like it. They may even have this one at the library.

Below is an example from the book of the differences between the walk cycle and the run cycle.

Walk Cycle
An example from How To Draw Cartoon And Paint Animation (How To Draw Series 26) by Preston J. Blair.

Notice that not every single in-between move is shown in the walk cycle. Animated cartoons often double up the poses, displaying two frames of the same thing, to save money and your brain will fill in the gaps. Those cheaply produced cartoons from the 1960s and 1970s that were churned out quickly (Scooby-Doo and The Flintstones come to mind) even did them in threes and fours!


Basics of the Walk Cycle by Francis Jasmin

If you don’t have the time or money to get a book on the topic, Francis Jasmin has handy and profound information on his blog about the Basics of the Walk Cycle. He goes into balancing the movement of the arms with the legs, movement of the torso, common mistakes, and more.

Endless Reference

endlessreference has an insane number of motion reference libraries for animators and artists, including things like a limp walk, an exhausting walk, long strides, and more.


Character animation tutorial – Felix Sputnik

Felix Sputnik is very good with human movement. He mainly uses Flash but the same concepts apply to After Effects and even hand-drawing characters for a flipbook. Check out his work on Vimeo.

Here’s Structuring a Walk Cycle the Sputnik Way. Note: He doesn’t clothe most of his characters, so if you’re sensitive about cartoon nudity, you may want to skip this one.

Here’s more of his work, if you’d like to see some examples.

Making a Walk Cycle in After Effects

Walk-Cycles in After Effects from School of Motion

Joey from School of Motion included this in their 30 Days of Tutorials series they covered walk cycles in an excellent hour-long video.

Newton Character Rigging

Motion Boutique’s Newton can make character rigging and physics in After Effects so much simpler. This can get you started on a walk cycle.

Duik – DuDuF IK & Animation Tools Adobe After Effects

Duik will help you rig your character. Download Duik here. It’s donationware so pay the price of what you think is fair.

There are quite a few tutorials on Duik out there. Here is a couple.

After Effects Character Rigging + Walk Cycle 

Cartoon Animation Tutorial – Part 3: The Run Cycle

Easy Walking from Victor Bandiera

Victor Bandiera has come up with a script to make animating the walk cycle easier and faster. Create your character in Illustrator and animate it in AE CC 2014 or AE CC.

Animating a Walk-Cycle Using Loop Expressions from Dan Ebberts

Dan Ebberts at Creative Cow explains how to use expressions to make your character continue walking. Project files are included. Learn more

Character comfortable controllers Tutorial

Although this is not a tutorial on creating a walk cycle, Tony Pinkevich has devised a simple way to control the walk cycle so that you can easily pull the walking character around the screen.  Watch the video and download his project file here.

Walk Cycles in MAXON CINEMA 4D

The CMotion System was introduced in CINEMA 4D R13. C4D users can use make a character do walk cycles along a spline or terrain, or manually move the character, based on cyclic motion. There are presets or the user can create their own. Learn more about walk cycles at Cineversity and check out Cineversity Live – Intro to CMotion.


Part 1

Part 2

Cinema 4D R13 – CMotion by Orestis Konstantinidis

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Posted by Michele Yamazaki

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