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Walk Cycles progress [feedback appreciated]

Hey people! I've been studying animation for a couple months and now I think I'm ok for taking feedback. I'm creating some walk cycles using the Rain v2.0 rig, and I'll update this post as I finish each one. I would appreciate any feedback you could give. Thank you, guys!

Normal walk: 


  • EVernier
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    EVernier polycounter lvl 8
    Hips and spine: Hips trajectory will kinda look like an infinity symbol, that's something to keep in mind. Try to think about your squash and stretch on the spine. When weight falls on the leg, let's say the left leg, then the left hip will rise and the left shoulder will compress down. Do a google search on Contrapposto to help visualize it. Hips also move back and forth in tandem with the up and down motion, both curves will look very similar.

    Feet: From the moment the heel hits the ground to when the toe pushes off, the Z (back and forth) has to be linear. When you walk, your foot is planted firmly on the ground and doesn't move from that spot. Stationary walk cycles are like walking on a treadmill and you can create an actual treadmill in Maya with a plane, a few boxes to mark the position of the toe and heel, and animating it with a linear Z translation at the speed you want your walk to be. (let's say your character walks at 1.5m per second and you're animating at 30FPS, then frame 0 would have 0 on the Z translation and frame 30 would have -150, assuming you're in centimers, and you make it a linear spline in the graph editor).

    Arms: Definitely animate those in FK. IK is great for a lot of movements, but for cycles you're just fighting against the inverse kinematics to get your arcs.

    Reference: Look at references for each of your key poses. The contact, the down, the passing and the up positions, and look closely at the foot-hips-shoulder alignment.

    Keep it up!
  • Semperfoo
    Never would though FK were better for cycles. I'll work on what you pointed and post it again. Thank you!
  • Semperfoo
    Ok, I almost completely remade the animation. Though, it was faster than the previous one. This is the result:

    @EVernier was right! A walk cycle using FK is A WAY easier to animate, with the position being guided by the torso I had so much less in mind to care about the rotation. Thank you!

    I didn't get exactly what you said about the treadmill, but I deleted the Y key frames (in Blender hand) so the front to back animation in this axis is clearer and and its curve easier to handle.

    I may have forgotten the contrapposto tip for hips/shoulders, but I still can tweak it when I'm doing the hair jiggle.

  • EVernier
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    EVernier polycounter lvl 8
    tl;dr: Compare fast and slow walks with video reference.
    Get up and compare the walks for yourself too, notice how your body doesn't move the same way in a fast walk vs a slow walk, especially regarding weight distribution.


    Getting better. Don't worry too much about the treadmill just now, it's basically a way to make sure your character walks at the right speed, which is important to avoid foot sliding once in movement, but you can focus on the body mechanics first.

    For the animation: Something else to watch for is the speed vs the gait. Right now, the cycle feels "floaty" because the poses and timing will work for a steady, relatively fast walk. For slower walks, there's, among other things, a delay in the steps: For the contact poses, the back foot is still mostly planted on the ground and hasn't quite started to roll up yet.

    The faster your walk, the more you're "falling" and your weight is more to the front. Pushing, falling, pushing, falling, etc. Slower walks you have to keep more weight on the back leg, otherwise your front leg will struggle to keep up and you're just going to stumble ahead.

    It's a bit tricky to explain, but I'd recommend comparing video reference of someone walking quickly and someone walking slowly, and also to get up and do it yourself. Get a feel for what's going on in your body when you're walking quickly vs slowly, paying attention to weight distribution.

    You can also tone down the arm swing. When you're walking, the arms follow the torso and drag behind. Slower walks with smaller and slower torso movement won't have the arms swinging too much. A good approach to body mechanics is thinking about the force behind it. Movement is caused by energy, where's that energy coming from? What's leading and what's dragging? In a walk, arms often drag behind the chest. In a run, arms will often lead.

    The human body is lazy and in day-to-day activities, we basically just do the bare minimum to stay balanced, so the arms will tend to have just a natural follow through to the chest's movement in a walk cycle, especially a slow one. It's not quite two meat sausages dragging along, because we do have actual muscle tissue in there, but it's close.

    Anyway, sorry for the wall of text! It's Monday morning and I hope my explanations aren't too convoluted. 
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