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2d walk cycles

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2d walk cycles

i just had a couple of questions about doing walk cycles.

1. when doing limited animation with layers, how many layers do you use for a character's walk cycle? is there a layer for every limb?

2. i'm having trouble getting the bounce in the step right. it's either too much or not enough, any tips.

anything you guys can tell me will help me out.

acetate assassin's picture Animation and Design
Animation and Design

Several years ago I tried using a layer for each limb, but I also had no idea at the time how a walk cycle actually worked. Doing it on separate layers would work, but it tends to take away from any character you might be wanting to add into the walk.

I recommend getting Tony White's Animator's Handbook and (better still) Richard William's Animator's Survival Kit. Both do a great job describing how to approach creating a walk.

Another good source is

Cartoon Thunder
There's a little biker in all of us...

Hello. About walks....


Don't animate on layers, unless you can't avoid it. Try to work on one layer.

If you have to work on layers- start with thew hips, legs and feet. Get Those working first then add the torso - neck and head. Add the arms last!

Go to my web site for free animation lessons.

Theres a lesson about animating a walk there.

Also, check out :

Remember - weight equals emotion!


thanks a lot for the help. your website helped me out a lot.
Animation and Design


Hey there...

I'm not sure what medium you're using to animate the walk (Traditional or Flash or other), but here are a few tips.

- A good method is to make sure that you have good KEYS. That's the backbone of your animation. That's where you really make sure that you have the right pose, the right proportions (ie...look back at your original hand, or head, or foot, and make sure that they're the right size) alot..
It's also important that your keys are in the right place. Different walks will have different important parts. A single-bouce walk, a double bounce walk, a kick-out sexy, Jessica Rabbit walk etc... Find out what's unique about those key moments, and work them hard. Making sure that your keys are right, and in the right spot, will help organize your work, and keep it cleaner, and less all over the place.

- Keep it subtle. As animators, the element that is our strength, can also be a weakeness. We love to blow things WAY out of proportion. But in the case of a walk, sometimes, the the differences between one key and another are small and subtle. You'll often find that your work seems a little "overanimated". Too much bounce...too wild. If you find that's the case,then be a little more discreet with your change from one frame to the other.

- Work it well. Good, smooth animation requires that you really go over it with a fine tooth comb, and make little fixes here and there. Little alterations...erase here, move the arm up a millimeter there, move the leg over a bit here...etc...It can sometimes be time consuming, but in the end, you want to have EXACTLY what you wanted. You want your thought to become reality, and that takes patience and close observation.

- Like mentioned before...a fantastic book, that's not only extremely helpful, but very comprehensively written is "The Animator's Survival Kit" by Richard Williams. I preach about this book all the time, not only because it has MANY excellent ways to approach animation and walk cycles, but it's written by an animator, for animators. He explains it in exactly the way you need to hear it to learn. No fancy language, no showing off, just the clean facts, and easy to learn. BUY IT!
It will start by really breaking down the animation walk cycle, and then, step by step, will get into slightly more creative approaches to walk cycles. Trust me, by the time you're done reading it, you'll be able to do it yourself. He really makes it make sense.

Hope this helps,


PS..Making good keys is also the solution to your very creative idea of doing it on seperate do I know? I tried that trick myself...just ended up with heart problems. hehe.

again, thank for the help. these are all very good tips.
Animation and Design