What is a walk cycle and how can I create one?
Creating a walking cycle is a great way to practise your animation skills. Knowing how to animate a walk is a key skill in the animator’s arsenal and one you’re likely to use regularly in your work. Discover how to get started with this process and create your own walking animations in this guide.
What is a walk cycle?
A walk cycle is an animation technique using illustrated frames stitched together to create a sense of movement. The series of frames contains consecutive drawings of a walking figure. When combined together, the animation appears to walk.
Why is a walk cycle important?
Walk cycles are a good way to visualise the basics of human movement. They’re also an efficient method of animating the act of walking. Once you’ve nailed the cycle, you can just repeat it, rather than animating each new walking scene again. However, getting the movement of walking to look natural can be difficult without the right method and lots of practice. That’s where walk cycles come in.
The way a character walks conveys much more than movement. After all, you can tell a lot about a character from their body language, gait and walking pace. So it’s important that you ensure these elements are reflected in your work.
These illustrations are used in a variety of animation practices, including 2D, 3D and many forms of cartoon creation. Whether you’re working with 3D digital models or 2D sketches, you need to know the basics to get the best start.
2D walking animations usually involve sketches and illustrations. You’ll need to scan these creations into a computer to animate them digitally or you could use traditional Cel painting techniques to animate frame-by-frame.
3D techniques involve animating a 3D character within software. For this method, you’ll need to build your figures in a digital 3D render. From there, you can map out your character’s movement and gait in specialised software.
Creature walking cycles use similar processes to human animations. However, depending on the creature in question, you might find that you have to animate four legs, eight or even more. It’s good practice to do your research beforehand to understand how particular creatures move and the way this movement affects their body.
Tutorial: how to make a walk cycle in 8 steps.
Start your walk cartoon creation by following the steps below.
8. Crossover again.
Repeat the crossover process, but in reverse. Don’t forget to repeat any adjustments you made to heads, arms and other areas of the body for this second movement. Once you’re done, your figure should end their cycle in the same position as they started.