When it comes to animation, the first lesson that a UI/UX designer learns is to create a lucrative walk cycle animation. Equipping yourself with the skill teaches you the basics of how motion can be used in animation. Though walking might be an ordinary human function, the credit lies in the hands of animators as to how perfectly they can replicate it with a right angle and projection. From creating a contact position to refining the walk cycle, an animator should be aware of how to go on with the process. Today, our tech experts will guide you on how you can start with an easy process for an amazing walk cycle animation.
Let’s animate a normal human walk in an easy but artistic style.
What is a Walk Cycle Animation?
A walk cycle is a simple animation technique with which a sense of movement can be created by putting a series of illustrated frames to use. There are a series of drawings of a walking figure, which when combined, give the effect of walking movement to the animated figure.
It is an essential part of animation as it helps in visualizing the basics of human movement and making it look natural can be difficult without the right method and requires a lot of practice. A character walk cycle conveys much more than the movement of a character such as their gait, walking pace, and body language.
From 2D, and 3D to cartoon creation, these illustrations have found their purpose in a variety of animation practices. However, the only requirement for a UI/UX designer is to know the basics, whether you’re working with 2D sketches or 3D digital models.
Steps to Make a Seamless Walk Cycle Animation
The thumb rule to create a walk cycle animation easily is by practicing more. Let’s begin with easy animation steps by which you can start animate animation cycle.
1. Do a Proper Research
Search for already existent walk cycle reference to get an idea or outline of the style of animation you aim to recreate. Taking inspiration from a fellow animator or artist’s video can also help in creating a pretty good walk cycle. Observing essential factors such as how the hips rotate, weight is centered, to frame required per step, you should notice every detail. Since there is an idea of how the finished product should look, you can sketch it accordingly to reach your goal.
2. Create a Character
After taking ideas from different sources of the style of animation, take the next step by sketching the character. Beginners can keep it simple for the first time as per the size of their choice. However, while creating a walk cycle animation, it is better to keep the frame rate between 24 to 25 frames per second, while 24 is considered to be ideal.
3. Create Contact Position
This is the very foundation of a walk cycle animation and sets the base for how the character’s walk would look with every step it takes. With the character’s feet hitting the ground as they walk or move forward, a contact position would decide how the front leg and back leg should be placed.
4. Highlight the Forward Point
The forward point is the position from which any character will start their journey. The back foot will stay firmly on the ground, and the front leg will be bent and then raised on the front side.
5. Down Position
In the down position, the character’s weight shifts downwards to the contacting foot. This position can be animated by removing the weight and shifting it down and dropping the character’s hips.
6. Create the Passing Position
The next step is adding the passing position or halfway pose where the character’s legs pass each other. While this movement has to be a seamless continuation of the forward point, the main difference is that the weight of the character would shift upwards. The back foot should be lifted while heading forwards as it is off the floor, and the front leg should be heading backward.
7. Designing Up Position or Falling Point of the Walk
The character is now on the highest walking point, meaning that their leg is swinging forward before placing the foot on the ground to hold. The character should be leaning forward and the heel should be partially lifted to adjust its weight. Repeat steps 3, 4, 5, and 6 for designing another leg.
8. Balance the Weight on Upper and Lower Portions of the Body
Adjust the up-and-down parameter to balance the weight of your character. Visualize the movement of your character and reflect them in your animation such as the hips moving and adjusting the curves to balance out the overall body weight.
9. Fix the Side-by-Side Weight
Upon refining the upper and lower body weight, it is time to refine the side-to-side movement. Adjust the curves on your graph editor and ensure that the spacing is right. Place the hips above the foot that is planted on the ground. Keep the character’s knees bent, rotate the hips, and their feet should absorb the impact as they hit the ground.
10. Work on the Chest Movement
The upper body of your character can convey a lot about your personality. To keep it natural, ensure that the chest movements are simple. If your character has broad chest rotations, it is a reflection of the subject’s attitude. While making your arms move, make sure that the chest moves along with it too because nobody moves with a still chest.
11. Fix the Popping of the Knees
After working on the upper portion of the body, it is time to focus on the issues in the legs. The popping of the knees can be avoided by stretching the leg or shrinking it. The feet also need to be fluttered, and to achieve that it has to be raised between one or two frames. To eliminate the popping of the knees, adjust the hip control.
12. Crossover Again
This time, reverse the crossover process so that the character ends their walk cycle in the same position in which they started. Remember to make changes to the head, arms, and other body parts for the second movement.
13. Fine-tune the Walk Cycle
Lastly, make sure to check ways in which you can polish your walk cycle animation by taking it to the next level. Check on the following factors:
- Enhance the animation by adding fine details in the character’s motion
- Maintain consistency in contact points
- Consider how weight affects gait
- Add drags in the fingers and head
- Create a personality by altering parts of the walk cycle
- Verify all arcs of the feet and hand
Though creating a human walk cycle animation might be slightly difficult, once you have got a hang of it, you will be able to ace the game by following the above steps. Once you will understand its normal flow, you can add your alterations and brush it up until you master it. The exciting part is that you can even add different moods and situations so that the character speaks for itself and is able to engage your audience effortlessly. Are you ready to animate your walk cycle? For more creative ideas on UI/UX designing, stay in touch with our team!
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