Improve your walk cycle with these steps
Animating walk cycle is fundamental for animators, allowing them to breathe life into characters and make them move seamlessly across the screen. The best place to start learning the basics is to check book by Richard Williams: The Animator's Survival Kit. Where he explains the key poses very well.
Today, we'll explore essential tips that will help you elevate your walk cycle animations to the next level
1. Feel your character
Before diving into the technical aspects, take a moment to understand your character's personality, mood, and purpose of the animation. This emotional connection will influence the way your character moves, resulting in a more authentic and relatable animation. A robot should feel like a robot
2. Pose your character
Ensuring the character leans in the direction of their walk is crucial. It important to understand that the character is relying on each step to prevent a potential fall
3. Avoid sliding feet
One common mistake is having feet that slide across the ground in the game. It is not that easy to spot in the Spine editor. However once in the game, character moves at constant speed, thus feet also should move at the same speed. Apply these 3 techniques to fix sliding feet
Move the same distance
If the background foot is in perspective, and you intend to move it a shorter distance than the foreground foot, that's fine. However, keep in mind that one of them will slide in the game, as the code doesn't account for this difference. Both feet should cover an equal distance with each step
Have straight trajectory
Whether the character is on an isometric or 2D ground, their feet should always move in straight and parallel lines once they are planted on the ground, and they should never penetrate the ground
Move at a constant speed
And the most popular mistake is to add an easing while feet move across the ground. Even if it does look smooth with easing, it is not realistic, and it will slide in the game if the developers are moving your character at a constant speed. Therefore, it's advisable to eliminate the easings while feet are touching the ground
4. Solve leg in perspective
To make the character look awesome designers often slightly rotate one leg towards the camera.
However, animating a walk cycle using that leg can be quite challenging. Thankfully, there's a straightforward solution for this: duplicating the other leg and utilizing it for walk or run animations.
Remember to revert to the original leg when animating movements that don't demand significant foot motion
5. Desynchronize the arms
Human movement isn't perfectly symmetrical. If your character moves relaxed make sure to delay lower limbs and hands. As they function more like a chain than rigid components. This subtlety adds realism to the animation
6. Tail in 3D
If you got a character with a tail don't just wave it up and down. Since hips are rotating, the tail will also sway from left to right in a 3D perspective.
Lastly tail should not be too much attractive, consider leaving it almost static if the character is heavy
7. Specific leg structure
Sometimes, we receive characters with distinct anatomical structures, where they have animal legs. It's important not to overlook this aspect. If the lower limbs are long enough, consider including that in your rig to add more realism to the character
8. Align the eyes
When we walk we normally look in that direction not at the ground but in front of us. So move the pupils to align the eye line
9. Control the head
I understand that you might want to animate every detail, but overdoing the head bouncing can lead to the character feeling weak and unrealistic
Remember that even subtle details like tail swaying and eye alignment contribute to realism. Strike the right balance, and your characters will walk off the screen with a lifelike charm that captivates viewers.
Here are some Spine projects you can practice with