Animating walk cycles: biped walk

In this post I will be discussing how I animated the walk cycle below.

Step 1:

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Draw the two contact positions. Right leg forward on the first and left leg forward on the second. Don’t worry about the arms for now, we will add them later. Note that if you want to animate the walk in place as I did then the second contact would be positioned directly on top of the first.

Step 2:

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Now add the key poses between the two contacts. The top image shows the drawings spaced apart so you can see what is going on, but again, if you are animating in place the frames should be layered on top of each other as shown in the bottom image. Note that the head should Move in a linear up and down motion (a slight curve is fine but avoid circular motions as this can give an odd bird like effect) and the stepping foot should move in an arc.

Step 3:

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Now it’s time to add the inbetweens. The timing chart above shows the positioning of the inbetweens, the key frames that we have already drawn are circled. The speed of a standard walk is about half a second per step, so 12 frames when animating at 24fps (frame 13 is the start of the next step)

It’s important to take care that the foot follows a smooth arched trajectory. The easiest way to do this is to pick a point on the foot (I used the heel) and actually draw the ark through this point on all the key frames, then when you add the inbetweens make sure the heel is always positioned exactly on this line.

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The image above shows two different ways to animate the foot. There is nothing wrong with diagram 1 but it can look a little stiff. If you drag the foot as shown in diagram 2 it will give the animation more flexibility.

Step 4:

You have now animated the character taking 1 step. To animate the second step you need to follow the same process again but this time starting on the opposite foot. When you are done the animation should start and end in the first contact position.

Step 5:IMG_1232

 

Now we can add the arms. The above image shows the key poses for a swinging arm. Our walk starts with the right leg forward and left leg back. The arms should be the opposite, right arm back, left arm forward. Instead of just having the arm straight on frame 7 you can “break the joint” so it bends the wrong way, since it is only bent this way for one frame (don’t bend it on any of the inbetweens) the viewer won’t register it but it will give a feeling of flexibility to the animation. You can also drag the hand like we did with the foot.

Step 6:

Fill in the inbetweens for the arms and you’re done!

 

 

Animating head turns

In this post I’m going to be talking about animating head turns.

Things to remember:

  • Things very rarely move in straight lines in nature, so if you want your animation to look natural, all movements need to follow an arched trajectory (unless of course you want the movement to appear mechanical) for a head turn, this means we need to dip the head down slightly on the breakdown drawing (tilting the head up can also work).
  • Most of the time things move fastest in the middle of the action. So, in animation we ease in and ease out by adding more drawings closer together at the beginning and end of the action. There are times where another force may be acting on your character so a little bit of common sense is needed with this principle.
  • When we turn our heads we tend to blink.

My head turn animation:

How I did it:

Step 1:IMG_1209

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First draw your two keys and the breakdown in between them. Notice that the head is tilted down and the eyes are closed on the breakdown. I have separated the drawings on the top image for clarity. The bottom image shows how the drawings should actually be placed. The positions of the head should form an arc as shown by the blue line.

Step 2:

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Now add the inbetweens. This timing chart shows the placing of the inbetweens, the keys are circled and the breakdown underlined. We are animating on twos, which means every drawing will be exposed twice.

You can find a detailed explanation of animation timing charts HERE

You can also take a look at THIS blog post from animator island which was helpful to me for this exercise.

Animating a falling brick

This is a simple exercise but there are still a couple of things to keep in mind when animating a falling brick. We need to convey that the object is heavy and also that it is made of a rigid material.

There is some great content on animationphysics.org on weight and centre of gravity in animation.

Here is my falling brick animation.

And here is how I did it:

Step 1:

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Draw the key frames 

Step 2:

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Add the inbetweens. More inbetweens spaced closer together at the start of the action for an ease in.

Step 3:

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Finally, I added a slight wobble and the brick falls on its side.

Bouncing ball animation: the first thing you should learn to animate

It may seem simple but the bouncing ball is actually the foundation for every animation. So when I decided to start learning animation seriously, the bouncing ball was the logical place to start. Completing the bouncing ball exercises really helped develop my understanding of some of the core principles of animation, such as squash and stretch, timing and spacing, ease in and ease out, and arcs.

Animation test 1: ball bouncing in place.

How I did it:

step 1:

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Draw a line for the ground and the ball in its starting position, this is the first key frame.

Step 2:

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Now on a new frame draw the ball at the point it touches the ground. Make sure that you keep the volume of the ball the same in every frame (this is harder than it sounds if you are drawing by hand but it is very important.)

Step 3:

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Add a frame in between the first two frames. In this drawing stretch the ball slightly to give a feeling of elasticity but remember the overall volume needs to stay the same.

Step 4:

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Add a new frame in between the top two positions.

Step 5:

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Add the next two inbetweens shown in green for clarity.

Step 6:

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Add the final inbetweens, shown in orange.

Step 7:

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Add one more drawing after the contact position, this time you want to squash it slightly.

Step 8: Finally, repeat all the frames backwards so that your animation starts and ends with the ball at the top position. This way you can loop your animation, and now we are done!

Animation test 2: ball bouncing across screen.

How I did it:

step 1:

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The method for animating a ball bouncing across the screen is pretty much the same. However, this time the ball will be animated across an arched path. It is a good idea to draw out the path first.

Step 2:

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Draw in the high points and contact positions.

Step 3:

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Now add the frames where the ball is stretched.

Step 4:

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Add the first set of inbetweens.

Step 5:

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Then the next set of inbetweens.

Step 6:

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And finally draw the squashed positions.