Walk Cycles Research

For assignment 1 of creative strategies we have been given the task to animate a walk cycle using an already rigged 3D character. Before I started animating I wanted to do research on how people walk. Everyone walks differently, its like our own finger print. People come in all different shapes and sizes and this also makes a great effect on how people walk.


As part of my research I looked at the human anatomy fundamentals, balance and movement. Below is an illustration of this dynamism: the character on the left stopped mid-stride, when she had transferred her weight to her front foot and was about to lift the rear foot, which as a result carries little weight despite touching the ground. Her CoS is therefore close to her front foot. Reading-wise, it is because most of her weight is clearly on her front leg that we can tell she’s stopped in motion, as opposed to what is shown in the medallion. The figure on the right shows a CoG that’s only slightly off-center, but this subtle visual clue in an otherwise symmetrical stance informs us that the weight is shifted slightly to the left leg, saving the figure from looking like a diagram in a martial arts text book.

Reference Link   [Accessed 5th Oct. 2016]



The following is a 500 word essay that I did last year when researching drawing with weight in life drawing class. I thought it was relevant looking back as it is on how gravity effects a person depending on their mass:

The first thing that I had to consider was what is gravity and how can it effect a form? Gravity is the force that attracts a body towards the centre of the earth. Unless you are in space with no gravity, you must illustrate with weight in mind. Mass is just one component that gives a 2D drawing a more 3D feel. There are several things to consider when drawing. These include the scale, weight, mass and density. Mass multiplied by gravity equals weight. Weight in mass is density. The denser the object the more mass it has meaning more gravity is implied upon it. With these in mind we can make our drawings more believable  and alive.

For example, a heavy set person with a big stomach would been drawn in a way that makes it look like their large body is slightly drooped, being pulled down by gravity. For a skinnier person they would be straighter and less drooped, giving them a lighter feel. Everyone carries their weight in different places. A woman with large hips or a muscular man with large biceps would carry their weight on those areas more as they have a larger density and mass.

Resistance of force can also be used to show the weight of something. If an object is heavy it would move slowly. For example, a person carrying a heavy bag. The bag could be dragging along the ground while the person is pulling, bent over in the other direction in an attempt to use their body weight as a scale to move. If the object or person is wet or dry can also change the weight. Water can make an object heavier, for example wet hair or clothes can weigh the person down.

Looking at balance, the bodies centre of gravity is roughly behind the belly button. A body is supported by what part is touching the ground, such as the feet. In between the ground and the centre of gravity is called the centre of support. These points usually form a line, triangle or square. If a body is in motion the balance would work differently. For example, walking could be described as continuously falling and losing balance. The faster and more dynamic the more dramatic the movement is. When a person runs they are bent forward, but they can only extend so far. The front foot must be aligned with the head when it hits the ground. If the head is ahead of the legs the person will lose balance and fall.


Below is a YouTube tutorial video of animation walk cycles. It explains the different type of walk cycle steps and gives good advice on how and when to create the poses.

I have the the book, “Animators survival guide, By Richard Williams”. It has a alot of good advice and illustrations on the different poses of a walk cycle.I really enjoy reading this book because it is a little informal, as if the author is just have a conversation with you. For me this is easier to understand and remember the advice he gives. In the beginning of the walk cycle tutorials he stresses the difference of peoples walks. No one person walks the same, everyone has their own unique walking style. After reading about his experience studying different walks I have discovered that I too take in alot of information just on how people walk. I am short sighted but don’t really wear my glasses much, so I have found (without realising it) that I study how people walk and remember, so If I see someone from a distance (with my blurry eyesight) I don’t try to see their features but I look at their form and how they walk. I have been doing this self consciously and only now realising it after reading Richard Williams book. It is actually pretty amazing, and since then I can’t help but watch people (not creepily) at how they walk differently.
When animating a character it is not just their form or body mass that we must take into account. Their personality also makes a great deal of difference in how they walk, even how they are feeling. Are they tired? Angry? Happy? Scared? The image below from the book shows the difference of a female woman and a more macho male. Woman normally walk with smaller steps with their legs closer together. Whereas a man (like Mr Macho) would have wide steps much farther apart. They would also have their arms away from their body because of muscle (or just showing off). I have also found men walking with their arms out (as if they are carrying tvs under each arm) tend of have a chip on their shoulder. Perhaps they are wanting to feel bigger, more intimating? A more slender woman would walk with their arms close to their sides.
This book has alot of detail and examples of how to start animating a walk step by step. It describes the contact points and what you have to consider with the head movement and arms. It also will help me with the leg placement on each frame and where the arms should be. Throughout my attempts at animating I will definitely be looking back at this book for help.
 The image below from the book shows the contact points and the up and down. These have been exaggerated so that it is clearer, but I can see the positions needed for each pose. I will probably use this image as a reference in maya
When doing an arm swing I have to take gravity into consideration when moving the elbow and wrist as well as the arc. The swinging motion as the wrist swings is slightly behind the elbow, as seen in the image below:
After doing a  walk cycle I think I will try other movements such as a run, skip or sneak. The book has so many references and step by step explanations of each movement.
run 2.JPG
sneak reference.JPG
Aswell as reading books and watching walk cycle videos we thought that it was a good idea to take some walking references of our own. Here is a video of my team and I doing different walks that we can use for examples. It also allowed us to really think of our movements and how we move instinctively without realising it. Also how we have completely different walks!

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