Walk Cycle - Motion Design

The walk cycle is a series of frames or illustrations drawn in a sequence that loop to create an animation of a walking character. Instead of drawing each frame by frame, I created the character in Adobe Illustrator and then animated the character via the character tool. Using this tool, I was able to make the limbs movable and could then make movements frame by frame without drawing them. The process of creating these walk cycles from scratch can be pretty daunting because of the perspectives, contact points, and setting the tempo of the walk.

Languages and Software
Adobe Illustrator / Adobe After Effects
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The Challenge

Animation is one of my favorite design mediums, and I frequently work with it. I am always trying to find ways to grow and improve my skills within that specific field, and one way to do that is by learning how to rig your characters. Before this project, I have never rigged a character for animation. Learning the tool to begin rigging was a bit difficult at first, but rigging is a breeze once you understand the mechanics and what each button does. However, creating the character in illustrator with the proper layers is vital to making the rigging process an easy one. If you don't have your files laid out the correct way before you get to the rigging, it will be a nightmare. Learning the proper file layout was an essential piece to this project as well. Below are images of my character creation process, file layout, and a bonus animated GIF.

The Design Process

Starting anything new takes planning, and you need a direction to go in. The easiest way to begin an animation is to decide what your characters' personalities will be and how they will look. One way to do this is to write down a list of adjectives and nouns, so you can use this information to design a character like a lazy old-man, for example. For this project, I went with a man that's just happy living life since this is my first time rigging a character. Once you have a direction to go in, you can then begin to block out your character with different shapes. In my image above, I blocked out three different poses; a regular-sized character, a cartoon character, and an extra-tall character. Blocking out characters gives you the ability to see how the character will look before committing to the design, and it gives you the added benefit of dynamic posing. Dynamic posing allows you to find critical elements such as the line of action, balance, depth, angles, and emotions. The best animations have very expressive poses and emotions, so it is worth taking a good chunk of time on this part. Once the character is blocked out, then you can start adding detail and breaking down each element into its own layer. This process allows you to bring the Illustrator file into After Effects quickly, and animate each part easily.