Animating a walk

22 October, 2008

How a Character Walks


Animating a walk can be a
challenge for any animator. They become much easier when we keep in mind a few
important elements, such as: emotion, weight, and strong key
. Of course these ingredients are important to any form of animation -
2D or 3D. Emotion affects every aspect of the walk. The greater the emotional
weight…the greater the physical weight.


An angry walk should be
forceful and have more weight. A sad or depressed walk will display more weight
but be more sluggish and seem closer to the ground. During a happy or joyous
walk the character will seem lighter and his movements freer and further from
the ground. Knowing the emotion of the character is the first step of any walk.



Weight is the next ingredient
of a walk! Again, the greater the emotional weight…the greater physical



Weight can be shown in the
feet…legs and body. Specifically, squashing the feet, the quadriceps and the
belly can add greater weight to the character. Having the “weight of the world”
on his shoulders can be shown physically.



Once the ideas of emotion and
weight are thought out we add strong posing… which means thumbnails.



To better understand the
movement…let’s begin with the primary action of the hips, legs and feet. The
first pose is the contact position. Feel free to indicate the hips and to
designate the left foot and the right foot.


The heel of the left foot and the toe of
the right foot make contact. The contact position measures of the stride. The
left and right feet are in different places on the plane.



The next key pose is the recoil
pose. It works best as the very next drawing of the walk. It is usually the
lowest pose in the movement. Recoil pose shows a lot of weight and impact
especially when it follows the contact pose.



During as normal walk, go from the
contact to the recoil in one drawing – no inbetweens or it will look mushy.
Notice the squash (weight) of the foot.



The next pose of the walk is
the passing position, where one leg passes the other as it advances forward. The
passing position or pose can be the highest point of the walk.


The right hip has rotated upward in an




It is Very Important To Make
The Knee Of The Passing Leg:





Always draw a good “Readable”
silhouette. Generally, the passing pose shows the most weight of all the
drawings in a walk. Remember, the leg moving forward has separate arcs for the
hips, knees, ankles and toes.



As the leg comes forward…you
can bring the foot forward in one of these two ways.



The next key pose of the walk
is just the reverse of the first contact pose.



Once the PRIMARY action is
KEYED OUT; pencil test the KEYS and check out the movements and timing.



The six frames and eight frames indicate
the key pose plus two or three inbetween drawings.


the contact position and the passing position the character will be on balance.
Between the passing position and the next contact drawing the character will be
off balance.



If the character is walking
across the frame, the contact measure the length of the stride – the placement
of the toes and heels are important.



Once the PRIMARY action is
tested – we can add the torso, a SECONDARY action.



Avoid having the torso is too
“straight up”. The character will become stiff. Lean the torso slightly forward.



During the RECOIL position,
bring the torso forward. During the passing position, you have two options for
the torso and spine. Reversing the spine (a body reversal) when the leg extends
makes for a more fluid movement.



The last phase of the walk is
the SECONDARY action of the arm swing.



The arm swing is like a
pendulum. The movement is motivated by the shoulder….not the hand. The
shoulders move opposite the hips. When the left arm is forward the left leg is
back. When the right arm is back the right leg is forward.



A nice
overlapping action can occur by having the arm swing be at its extreme position
during the “recoil” position and not the contact position.


 Some Characters:






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