One of the important things that I learned that became very useful to me in creating 2D animation was creating walk cycles (and basic animation cycles for that matter).
Here are some learning notes about creating basic animation cycles and walk cycles that I hope will help wonderful beginners and hobbyists out there get started.
The examples are done in Toon Boom Studio, but the animation concepts like setting key-frames and rigging apply to other software programs as well (although they may use different terms).
Also, if you’re using a hand-drawn animation technique, you’ll have to do all of the ‘tweening’ cells manually.
But if you’re using a key-frame animation technique in your software, the computer will do the ‘tweening’ automatically for you. What’s your preference?
Basic Animation Cycles
Before going into walk cycles, a great starting point for learning any 2D computer animation software like Toon Boom Studio is by learning to animate much simpler stuff to understand animation cycles.
Lots of things move in repeating fashion, or cycles.
You can easily animate these things by drawing the elements, and setting just 3 keyframes to create simple animations.
It’s a really great exercise for beginners to learn and get used to the program’s interface and the basics of key-frame animation.
I recorded the next video to show the basics of doing simple animation cycles.
What else around you can you animate in cycles besides the items shown in the examples in the above video?
Creating Walk Cycles
So what’s the big deal with walk cycles and run cycles?
Well, it makes your life easier as an animator.
And yes, even for us amateurs and hobbyists.
For example, if you need your character to walk 20 steps, you only need to create ONE full walk cycle, which is actually TWO steps, then let the computer repeat that cycle 10 times to generate the animation of your character taking those 20 steps.
This next video shows you how to create (1) a basic walk cycle and (2) a slightly more advanced walk cycle in Toon Boom Studio.
To recap, the very easy walk cycle consists of 4 phases, which translates to 4 key poses (keyframes):
The more advanced walk cycle has 8 phases or key poses:
Learning Exercises: Examples of Walk Cycles & Run Cycles
Here are a couple of videos from my learning archives. The first video is a compilation of my different walk cycle animation sequences.
In the second video, I played with the same character and created several run cycles. Fun run cycles, in fact! I realized that the software was very flexible and allowed me to push the fun factor to a higher level. You can do amazing things with your rigged characters! Watch the video to see what I mean.
Try creating your own walk and run cycles and have a blast with it!
There’s more structured information available for you in the 2D Cut-Out Character Animation Reference Library. Click below to learn more:
I’ve added several more walk cycle demos and shared them on YouTube. Here they are…
Most walk cycle demos are shown in side view (a.k.a. profile view). Here’s a front-view Zombie Walk Cycle demo.
And here’s a 3-quarter view walk cycle demo:
When you create a walk cycle, the character walks in the same spot. You can place this animation in a scene with a moving background. Alternatively, you can use a static background and make the character walk across the scene or camera view. This next video shows you how to do just that.