|Animation Assignment #6
Character Walk Cycle
Over the years, I've seen a ton of really bad student animation. I've seen some good stuff as well, but not nearly as much as the bad stuff. I'd say it's easily 90% bad and 10% good. There are lot's of reasons for this. I won't get into all of them right here, but the top two reasons are: 1) not pre-planning the animation, and 2) not budgeting your time properly.
Far too many students leave their assignments until the last minute. If the instructor gives you two weeks and tells you it'll take about 12 hours of drawing time, invariably, the student will leave it until the day before it's due, then pull and all-nighter and realize with 3 hours left until the deadline, they still have 5 hours of drawing to do.
Oh, if I only had a dollar for every time this happened... I'd be rich. Well, not really. But I'd have several thousands of dollars, that's for sure!
So, how do you plan a walk cycle?
It really is insanely simple.
Act it out for yourself.
Get up and start walking.
Start walking the way you want your character to walk. Take the steps, plant your feet, bend your legs, swing your arms, move your head... o.k. so it's not really all that simple is it?
You need to create a rhythm for the walk. A beat, like in music... one... two... one... two. Time it out. What beat do you walk at when you're walking normally? Go for a walk and count your steps: one... two... one... two... one... two...
What is your beat?
Now modify your walk to the way you want your character to walk. Is the beat the same? Is it faster or slower?
Use a stopwatch to time yourself.
If you take two steps per second, that's pretty fast. Listen to what that sounds like.
Most people walk slightly slower at 1 and 1/2 steps per second. This pace creates a 16 drawing cycle shot on twos. This is kind of the industry standard, but there's nothing to say you can't make yours faster or slower. It all depends on how hard you want to make it on yourself.
A 16 drawing cycle is easily divisible by twos: 16 ÷ 2 = 8.... 8 ÷ 2 = 4.... 4 ÷ 2 = 2 and 2 ÷ 2 = 1
On the timing charts, it looks like this:
If you were to try and do a 12 drawing cycle you would run into a slight problem: 12 ÷ 2 = 6.... 6 ÷ 2 = 3
3 can't be evenly divided by two, so you're stuck with having to inbetween to thirds, which is not a terrible thing, but it's not as easy as halves.
The timing charts would have to look like this:
The same thing would happen if you wanted a 22 drawing cycle.
Anyway, let's stick with the simple, standard 16 drawing cycle.
After you've acted the walk out, you need to visualize in your head (you can do this physically as well) your two primary key poses at the "full stride" position, where one leg is in it's forward most position and the other is in it's back most position. These are usually drawings #1 and #9.
Freeze yourself in this position and look at where all your other body parts are. Where are your arms? Which direction are they moving in? Are they bent or straight? What are your hands and fingers doing?
Now look at your torso. How are your hips positioned? Are they twisted? Tilting? Is one higher than the other? Is your chest torqued in the opposite direction (it should be). Is it tilted up or down? Leaning to one side or the other? Is your spine straight or bent? Bent forwards or backwards? Forming an 'S' curve or a 'C' curve?
How is your head positioned? Tilting forward or back? To one side or the other?
Are your legs straight or are they bent slightly, or are they bent a lot?
Is this the "high point" or the "low point" of your pelvis?
The "high point" or the "low point" of your head?
Once you have a good "snap-shot" of this pose in your head, draw it out on paper using your character's proportions. This will be your key #1.
|Now draw the mirror image of this one and call it #9|
The next two poses you need to find are called, the "passing poses". This is where the back leg comes forward half way and the foot on the ground moves back half the distance.
Again, go through the questions listed above for drawings 1 and 9. Create that "snap-shot" and draw the pose out and call this one #5.
Now draw the mirror image of this one and call it #13.
5 and 13 are your breakdown poses or they can also be looked at as secondary keys.
Next do your main halfway inbetweens: 3, 7, 11, and 15
Each drawing in the cycle will have it's own mirror image. If you don't draw them this way, the cycle will not be symmetrical and it will appear to jerk or possibly limp.
This is a common error. I remember not drawing symmetrically and I had a limp on my first couple of walk cycles. You really have to start thinking about what's going on in this action or you can make mistakes quite easily.
Finish up your final 4 inbetweens and you'll be ready to pencil test to see if it works smoothly.
Shoot all the drawings on twos.
Here's my pencil test with the footstep track.
If I want to smooth the action out more, I'll drop in an inbetween for each drawing and shoot it on ones.
Doesn't that seem easy?
I'm just checking to see if you're actually paying attention here. This is the overly simplified expalination of how I did it. Now let me show you all the picky little steps I went through to really get this done.
I did drawings 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 and then shot a pencil test to see how it moved.
Look familiar? It's basically the same principles of the "Double Ball Bounce" and the "Seaweed" excercises combined.
I added the legs to all the existing drawings and then I drew the mirror image drawings: 11, 13, 15 to complete the cycle.
I then went back over the drawings and added the nose. This I did as straight ahead animation, starting with #1, then doing 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 15 in order so I could properly see the overlapping action taking place.
I didn't bother doing a pencil test at this point as I could see the action taking place just by stack flipping it in my hands.
I then went back and did all the remaining even numbered inbetweens for the entire action.
Then I went back again and added in the straight ahead animation of the tail.
Then I shot these as a pencil test to make sure it was all working together.
Here is the cycle cleaned up and shot on twos.
And here it is in color on twos.
Here it is, shot on twos, in color, with a panning background.
There's a slight bit of slippage on the feet, because the background is panning on ones and the animation is on twos.