Walk cycles are one of the first things an animator learns when he’s starting character animation. You may not believe it but walk cycles are incredibly difficult. The mechanics of any creature walking demands a lot of observation and taxes an artist’s ability to draw something in movement.
Walk cycles are rudimentary exercises for animators, sort of like scales are for musicians. Here are some examples of walk cycles that Sawyer has been working on.
What could be so hard? A human being is an unbelievable balancing act. More than 65% of our weight is above our hips, and our legs are constantly moving to keep us upright when we’re standing still. Put that 65% in motion and it gets worse.
Animator’s have to understand weight and balance. Did you know a woman’s center of gravity is just above her hips, while a man’s center of gravity is in his chest? An animator knows that. That’s one reason women walk differently than men.
The difficulty doesn’t stop there. Everyone has different walks depending on their emotion. We walk differently when we are in a hurry, when we are tired, angry, full, walking in heels, walking quietly, proud, embarrased, or excited.
Next time you see an animated character walk you might have a greater appreciation of the work that went into making it happen.
One of the best introductory books to character animation and walk cycles is Cartoon Animation by Preston Blair.