Creating Personality in a Walk Cycle

Walk cycles from person to person, depending on a variety of things, including weight, gender, age and fitness/health. For example, I myself walk with a slight limp to a dodgy knee injury.

I remembered Mike showing us Ryan Larkin’s video on walk cycles, showing all the different types and changes.

Ryan Larkin’s walk cycle. (YouTube, 2016)


Look at the tread of the following walk cycles. The top has a normal tread. The feet feel list on the ground. Compared to the bottom (I know its over exaggerated) cycle. There is more of a bounce to the steps, the rotation of the hips and the hip’s y values are more obvious. Giving the idea the weight really swings the body. The overall effect gives it more of a cartoonish bumbling man. The arm movements also add to this effect, swinging outwards from the body, as if they can’t be placed flat to the torso.

Walk cycles (average) (YouTube,2016).

Fat Walk Cycle (YouTube, 2016).

I also looked into the pages in Richard William’s book. He discussed having the body shape stretch on the up pose and squashing on the down pose.



Pages from Richard Williams books. (Williams, 2001).


Men are mainly larger than women. Their walks serve the purpose of utilitarian purposes, moving from place to place, therefore are more linear and straight. Women tend to move with more graceful movements, swinging their hips and taking shorter steps.

The movements of the body are subtle, but are distinguishable in men and women. Men take larger strides and walk with legs further apart. This makes them more prone to moving their shoulders and arms while they walk. Women, however, take shorter strides and their legs are closer together. This results in a less side to side movement and a more up and down bobbing.

Also, lets not forget the boobs movements.

Walks of women. (Vimeo, 2016).

Richard Williams did the video below, showing the difference in men vs women walk cycles. He mentions the importance of the passing position- women crossing legs over, whereas men are more wide spread.

Men vs Women. (YouTube, 2016).

A Limp

Walking with a limp will definitely impair the cycle itself. The body will lean away from the injured leg to reduce the weight on it. Also, the leg itself will either slide to compensate for the pain or will be leaned on less.

The limp of a child with Chromosome 6q deletion. (YouTube, 2016).

I thought this was a nice example of a limping walk cycle. (YouTube, 2016).

Thomas was kind (and weird) enough to sit out front Castlecourt and record some of the people walking by him. It was a nice learning exercise, noticing all the differences in peoples strides.


YouTube. (2016). Ryan Larkin Walking 1968 wmv. [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Oct. 2016].

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

Vimeo. (2016). Animated walks and runs. [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Oct. 2016].


Distributing Weight- Walk Cycles

The centre of gravity is the imaginary point in which the total weight of the body acts through. The centre of gravity does not change position, it shifts due to the locomotion (movement) of the object.

The centre of gravity can be subjunctive to the speed of the walk- resulting in the overall movement of the arms and legs on a subject changing to compensate. The graph below shows the change in the maximum arm distance, to create stability in the walk, so the subject does not topple.


Figures and science. (Anon, 2016).

The below diagram shows the effect the force has on the centre of gravity- in circumstances were it its equal (and won’t topple).


C.O.G effects. (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2016).

This principle can also be applied to the walk cycle movements. In humans, the COG lies roughly where the belly button is.


The position of the COG. (Design & Illustration Envato Tuts+, 2016).

This is between things acting as supports against the ground. You can see if the character is in  equilibrium by drawing a line directly down the centre of the pose. If it runs through the COG, the character is in balance. If not, the character topples. This is demonstrated in the image below.


Demonstrating the effect of COG. (Design & Illustration Envato Tuts+, 2016).

If you look at the illustrations below, drawing an invisible line shows the character is still in balance.



Two of the graphics showing the matter of COG. (Design & Illustration Envato Tuts+, 2016).



Anon, (2016). [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Oct. 2016].

Encyclopedia Britannica. (2016). centre of gravity | physics. [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Oct. 2016].

Design & Illustration Envato Tuts+. (2016). Human Anatomy Fundamentals: Balance and Movement. [online] Available at:–vector-20936 [Accessed 31 Oct. 2016].

Attempting the Walk Again

After Alec’s lesson on the walk cycle, I definitely felt I had more of a confidence in creating the walk cycle. Edward Boyle, year above, also mentioned that there was a good Digital Tutors/ Plural Sight Tutorial available on the walk cycle.

I watched the videos through- finding some of them confusing. The tutorial worked quite erratically, between poses. However, I found that it gave a greater understanding to the graph editor and its use in copying frames over and altering them in it. I found this super helpful- especially with the hip placement. It also introduced certain aspects I wouldn’t have thought of- such as the feet angle.

Below is the results of using the tutorial. Alec has mentioned turning off the upper body visibility to stop distracting the eye. I used this for a bit, but found it very hard to visualize what the overall movement should be.


I definitely owe Matthew Hamill like 890 drinks for his help. And putting up with my slowness. He mentioned moving the hips down in this but it took me a while to realize what he meant.

As I still did not understand the purpose of moved the hips this is what I have so far. I later realized that if I was to move the lower hip values down even more, it would prevent this floaty look. I will do this for Monday to show my team and Alec for critic.

Team Feedback

Today, we had our team feedback session for our walk cycle and our body mechanic.

I was kind of worried about the feedback due to battling so much with these exercises, however I was genuinely please.

Below is the walk cycle I presented the team. Jakub commented how my arms swung quite a lot, however he explained that if I was going for a cartoon reference, this would work. Alec commented that the arms themselves needed more overlapping action, showing me how to do this. I will fix this for my final render.

3/4 view walk cycle.

Front view the walk cycle.

For the body mechanic, the boys (Ryan and Jakub) commented that the body felt off balance, needing the shoulders to move forward more to create more of an arched back. Alec commented that the shapes were definitely there and to keep going. He solved my problem of how to end the mechanic through posing the landing pose for a few frames before moving upward.

Jump- side view.

3/4 View Jump

Alec mentioned using the IK spine for the jump posing. I will research this when I get home.

Walk Cycle and Body Mechanic- Pose to Pose/ Straight Ahead

When creating both the animation I found this video really helpful in describing how to create the final outcome. It broke the steps down, giving a better idea of what I needed to complete the movement.

  1. Video reference– recording yourself doing the action really helps in understanding how the body reacts to certain motions. In my case, I used a video reference online but also enacted the  movements myself, to get a better feel for what I had to do.
  2. Key Poses- these are the main poses involved in each of the action, in the walk cycle there are 5 and in the jump there are 6. These give an idea of the overall movement and need to be correct before moving on
  3. Breakdowns– once the key poses are met, we add in what are known as in-betweens or breakdown poses. This is done until the action looks as good as possible in stepped mode (no computer interpolation)
  4. Splining– this is were the keys are converted from stepped to spline. The computer is not very good at interoperating this- therefore the better the blocking, the better the splining is.
  5. Smoothing and Offset– this is when the animation is polished. Overlapping actions are created by moving keys ahead a few frames, for e.g.. the arm movements in the walk cycle, the hand keyframes are going to be a few frames ahead of the rest of the body.
  6. Adding life– this is used to include finishing imperfections in the character, to give a bit more of a realistic feel. It could be things like lip puckering or even an eye twitch.

A useful guide to creating the animation- I found this especially useful for the jump action. (YouTube,2016).

The process above is basically describing Pose to Pose animation. This describes the process of creating the key poses and then adding the breakdowns. Another way to animate is through Straight Ahead, starting from the first frame and creating the following poses until the animation is in completion. When doing the walk cycle I initially tried the pose to pose method, finding it hard, and when using Digital Tutors, I realised that Straight Ahead was the better method.

This video gave a bit more an understanding to the vocabulary involved in pose to pose. (Youtube,2016).


YouTube. (2016). The 6 Steps of Animation. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Oct. 2016].

Alec’s Walk Cycle Lesson 1

OK after today I realised how much of an idiot I am when it comes to animating. So, once again, Alec came to the rescue.

He showed us his way of creating a walk cycle that was a lot easier for me. Starting with the poses in the following orders- contact, passing, down and finally the up pose. He showed us how he would write down the values from each of the steps, and transfer it to the other (each cycle has two steps and ends on the same contact pose you begin with).

Alec showed us the video below, using it as a good example of a nice, natural walk cycle.

Various walk cycles.(YouTube, 2016).

Things that I noticed in these references, compared to my own, previous attempts.

  • The stride- I am placing my feet not far enough apart
  • The hips- my hips are not lowered enough to give the weight I need. Also, I find I have them too far forward, therefore created an off balance walk cycle.
  • The head movement- it doesn’t have enough bounce- looks very wooden in my own cycle.


YouTube. (2016). Walk Cycles Compilation. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Oct. 2016].


Walk Cycle Attempt 2

My second attempt at a walk cycle- in which I didn’t break the rig (yay). I’m starting to get there. I know that the arm movement needs to incorporate the overlapping action Rosie had mentioned to me, but I wanted to make sure I have the correct blocking of the key poses before I did this.

I asked Alec for some critic- he said that I needed to move the forward foot forward as it stepped forward as the balance was off. I’ll have another go at this and see if I can also fix the arm timing.


Arm Movement During Walk Cycles

I was really struggling with the arm movement in the walk cycle, due to the drag involved. Drag is defined as the pull (someone or something) along forcefully, roughly, or with difficulty. In the case of the walk cycle animation- the drag is the effect on the arm movement, the chain of movement of each of the items of the arm different.

I remembered from first year, Alec mentioned tutorials by Keith Lango, and I wanted to revisit these, as it helped figure out how to achieve this. He had an interesting series of videos on YouTube.

Keith Lango explained that there were two extremes in each moment- one at the beginning and one at the end. This was the easier bit, it’s finding the in betweens that is the hard bit.

Screen Shot 2016-10-31 at 13.00.18.png

The tutorials showed the extremes and what should happen in-betweens.

The videos themselves described the moment of a tail, and as I wanted to obviously use this in an arm movement. I looked a little further into how to create what is known as offset, for the arms’ overlapping action.

Originally, I had seen that this overlapping action can be created through the moving of key frames for the arm, elbow and hand further along the timeline. However, Lango discussed how this can make the animation a bit messy to work with.

He explained the basis of using offset, and why this was so. The un-itiated offset keys is used to created an organic solution of weight, using the following idea: The character moves from frame 1 to frame 10, frame 10 being the pose you want to move into.


The offset-keys technique in theory is very logical. The idea is that if the hips hit at frame 10, then if the mid-spine hits at 11, the up-spine hits at 12 and the head hits at 13 then you’ll get good overlap.


Lango explained further that doing this gives some overlap at the end of the movement and no drag  in the middle. This drag is essential as it gives the weight. This gives an odd hitch in the movement, giving a junky look. Look at the files below.
The disadvantages of this result in extra time needed for clean-up, to remove the hitches.  Instead, drag is created through the process of making changing shapes work as the movement is completed. Combining with the overlap, this makes for better animation.


Lango included the diagram above that helped explain this process.

Applying this to the walk cycle arm movements can be see was follows; When the arm is back on the contact pose, as it moves to the down pose, the arm movement should favour the pose it just moved from. The diagram from Richard William’s book show this more clearly.

The hand stays closer to the extremes as it moves forward and back, giving a delayed few frames of movement.



Drag in the arms.(Williams, 2001).

The information booklet below talked further in depth for created these movements. It referred to the graph editor, showing how to move and redistribute the points to create the overlap and drag I needed.

Further more, I watched the video below. Although I found his arms rather unnaturally- I don’t recall anyone walking like this, I found it really helpful.

Adding more natural movements to the cycle. (YouTube, 2016).


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

YouTube. (2016). 3D Walk Cycle Animation in Maya. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Oct. 2016].


Weight Tilt- Pelvis

Another thing related to the weight on the walk cycle is the pelvic tilt. Depending on the weight distribution of the body, depends on the lean of the pelvis and shoulders.

In real life, the following rotations occur;

During normal gait cycle, a hip range of motion of 40 degrees flexion and extension can be observed, from 10 degrees of extension at terminal stance to 30 degrees flexion at mid-swing and initial contact.

A lateral pelvic tilt and hip abduction/adduction occurs at 15 degrees: 10 degrees adduction at initial contact and 5 degrees abduction at initial swing.

An internal/external rotation along with pelvic rotation totalling 15 degrees transverse plane motion can be observed, with the internal rotation peaking at the end of pre-swing.


The hip movements- showing the bones. (, 2016).

In Richard William’s book (2001) he explains that, in a normal stride, weight shifts from one foot to another. As a foot is raised, the weight shifts forward and onto the side of the opposite foot (providing more support). (Anon, 2016)walk-backThe illustration (above) I found a little hard to read- I had a look to see if I could see some more angles online to help me a bit more. (Williams, 2001). 

I found the image below online. I think that to create this definite pelvic tilt, I am going to have to draw over my walk cycle recordings a lot!


Identification of the hip rotation from the front. (보기, 2016).

I found the below video really helpful when picturing this, from behind the model. The marks made it easier to visualise the movement.

Medical diagnosis from Pelvic Tilts. (YouTube, 2016).

So what I found was that the leading leg, on the contact pose, the hip rotates to that side as it’s furthest rotation. At the passing pose, the hips are back to the middle, no rotation occurs.


Anon, (2016). [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Oct. 2016].

Williams, R. (2001). The animator’s survival kit. London: Faber. (2016). [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Oct. 2016].

YouTube. (2016). Video analysis of pelvic tilt during walking and low back pain at Kevin Hall Physiotherapy. [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Oct. 2016].

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.