Introduction to Walk Cycles

Walk Cycles are defined as a series of frames or illustrations drawn in sequence that loop to create an animation of a walking character. The walk cycle is looped over and over, thus having to avoid animating each step again. (Wikipedia, 2016)

For our first exercise we are to create a basic one, using reference to get the correct action. I had watched the previous video before and found it helpful for explaining the basic poses when animating.

Alan Becker’s Walk Cycles. (YouTube, 2016).

The video listed there were four main poses, starting with two then building up to the complete 4. The first two are the contact pose and the passing pose.The contact being were both feet are in contact with the ground and the passing being were one leg crosses the other. These are reversed and repeated to create a beginning walking look.

These poses alone, however, look very mechanic, and given a more natural feel by adding the down and up pose.



The main poses demonstrated above. (Williams, 2001).

The next consideration is the arms. They are positioned at their furthest point when on the down pose and at their closest on the passing. The arms are also positioned on the opposite to the legs. For example when the right leg is back, the right arm is forward.


Addition of the arm actions.(Williams, 2001).

The pictures above are taken from the Richard Williams Animation Survival Kit (2001). The research was very much the same as I have described for the poses. However it also mentioned tempo.


Further illustrations from Williams’ book.(Williams, 2001).

Tempo is the rate or pace at which something moves at. People normally walk on a 12 beat cycle ( a normal marching pace) .

Animators work on 16s, simply as it is easy to divide the frames up into each of the passes.

1- the contact pose

5- down

9- passing position

13- up pose

17- contact

This works out at around 3 steps per second, something I will have to look at when animating the leg movement.

Another thing mentioned was the creation of weight in the walk cycles. The feeling of weight is created



Belt Line explanation.(Williams, 2001).



Wikipedia. (2016). Walk cycle. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Oct. 2016].

YouTube. (2016). ALAN BECKER – Animating Walk Cycles. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Oct. 2016].

Williams, R. (2001). The animator’s survival kit. London: Faber.

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