Animated Walk Cycles for Beginners (Rough Animator) | Patrick Davidson | Skillshare

Animated Walk Cycles for Beginners (Rough Animator)

Patrick Davidson, Expat Animator

Animated Walk Cycles for Beginners (Rough Animator)

Patrick Davidson, Expat Animator

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9 Lessons (33m)
    • 1. Class Trailer

    • 2. Create a walk cycle using stick figures

    • 3. Cleaning up your animated stick figure

    • 4. Coloring your cleanup drawings

    • 5. Adjusting frame rates within your project

    • 6. Adding green screen to your animations

    • 7. Extend your animation with cycles

    • 8. Class Project

    • 9. Recap

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About This Class

Did you know you can animate a walk cycle in only 8 to 10 drawings?

This class will teach you how I animate a walk cycle using the same step-by-step techniques I use when animating my own animated characters. First, we will get your keyframe poses figured out using stick figures. Then we will add in-between drawings to smooth out the animation. Next we will add some shapes to fill in our characters so that we can do our cleanup drawings. Then I will show you how to add the characters head and why I don't animate the head in the cleanup stage. Finally we will add colors to our character. I will also show you some extra tricks like using green screen with your animation, and making your walk cycle loop as long as you need. These are the techniques I use when animating my characters, and you can use them to speed up your animation workflow for your characters too.

Meet Your Teacher

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Patrick Davidson

Expat Animator


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1. Class Trailer: Did you know you can animate a walk cycle with only eight to ten joins. This class will teach you how I animate a walk cycle using this same step-by-step techniques I use when animating my own animated characters. First, we will get your keyframe poses figured out using stick figures. Then we will add in-between drawings to smooth out the animation. Next, we will add some shapes to fill in our characters so that we can do our cleanup drawings. Then I will show you how to add the character's head and why I don't animate the head in the clean up stage. Finally, we will add colors to our characters. I will also show you some extra tricks like using green screen with your animation and making your walk cycle loop as long as you need. These are the techniques I use when animating my characters. And now you can use them, speed up your animation workflow for your characters to. For our class project, you will use the same process I demonstrate in this class to animate a walk cycle with your own character. If you don't have your own character yet, you can animate your favorite cartoon character. Just practice making walk cycles using the stick figure technique. You are welcome to submit a stick figure walk cycle for your class assignment. If you don't want to animate a fully colored character, this class is for beginners, but animation fans and professionals are also welcome. The class requirements for this class are a computer or tablet along with the program rough animator. If you don't want to use rough animator, most 2D animation programs will be able to achieve the same results. A drawing tablet or stylus is recommended for this class as well. But it's not required. If you're not familiar with rough animator, Don't worry. It's only $5 and it's really easy to learn. Hey there, my name is Patrick Davidson and I'm an ex-pat animator and work mainly in 2D or hand-drawn animation. I started animating over 20 years ago now. And I've learned a lot by trial and error. You can avoid a lot of my errors by learning the animation techniques I actually used to complete my projects. Animated projects like the 100 episode web comedy series, traveling gringos, or my 22-minute short action film trip. These personal projects have helped me find client work, ranging from TV commercials to feature films. If you're working alone, like me, you will need to learn more skills than just animation to get your project completed. Skills like character design, scripting, storyboards, compositing, editing, audio work, and more. I can't teach everything in one class. So I hope you will follow my profile here at skill share. That way you'll get notified when I post new classes. Thanks for joining me today. And now, let's get into this class. 2. Create a walk cycle using stick figures: All right, time to get into our walk cycle and how to create one. So let's go ahead and play this one. And this is kind of a three quarter or half profile shot of my, one of my characters doing a walk cycle. Now, this is him walking. This is animated on the 3s, meaning I'm not doing a drawing every single frame per second. But it still looks pretty smooth and can pass for workable animation. So let's take a look at another example that I have. And this is more one of my characters walking straight on towards the camera. It's more of a stock. He's kind of stocking someone than a walk. But you can see it's the same kinda thing here. It's not done on the ones. I believe this was animated on the threes. So it's one drawing holds for every three frames. And you just, you can see that you can get a pretty good movement with just animate on the threes with the lock cycle. So that's what we're gonna do today is I'm going to show you how to animate a lock cycle on the threes. So let's go and I've created a project here in rough animator. And the first thing that I would wanna do is we would go File Import and image, and that's going to bring in our reference image. I like if you don't have to bring in a reference image here, you can bring it in on a second monitor or something, but let's just have this here so we can keep our scale of our character kinda the same. And then the next phase I like to create a new layer. And I'll call it stick figures. Because this is where I want to figure out what my animation is going to look like before I start getting into detail, before I start coloring it for sure. I mean, that's like the last stage. So again, let's talk a little bit about frame rates. And in this project, I want this walk cycle to be animated over video of myself. And that video is shot at 30 frames per second. So ideally, I want to build my project at 30 frames per second, which it is. But I know that I'm going to animate this on the 3s, meaning I only need to draw ten drawings per second to get this to work. And we're only, and we're going to get the whole walk in from start to finish. So he's gonna end back up on the same footie started on in 1 second. So you might think, oh, that's pretty fast, but that's about what a walk cycle works out. So here's a trick that I like to do. I'm going to animate this on the ones here, or just doing one frame. For now, I will come back and expand these so that there are three frames, every frame like this later on. But in the meantime, this is kinda how I like to work. I'm going to just keep it on the ones here. And I'm gonna go change my frame rate from 30 to ten because I'm basically knowing that I'm, we're animating on the 3s and we need to draw one drawing for every three frames. So that's kinda what this trick does for me. Okay? So as you can see, there's a little line here. If I, if I extend this at one frame there it is one that's 1 second of time right there. So you can see if we count these, there's only ten frames creating that 1 second. So let's take a look. And what I like to do is just do stick figures. And so one thing that I like to do is we'll start with the right foot up and it's kind of the heel is touching the floor. And that's a good trick that I learned from Richard Williams book, is if this is kinda floating in the air by an inch or two, it looks weird. There has to be contact to give it some weight. So you wanna make sure that that's kinda where I'd like to start my walk cycles. I mean, you could start it from here, but there's going to be that initial animation, extra animation to get him in to the walk cycle. This we're just animating the walk cycle. So it can loop and loop and loop. So let's get the legs kind of spread apart like this and then the arms. So if the right foot is ahead, the left arm would be ahead. So you've got this kind of juxtaposition between the arms and legs. So kinda remember that. So it's literally stick figures and I like to do circles for the hands and the feet to try and give me a little bit of where those are going to be in the animation. And I do another circle for the head. And you can see this circle is not even the same. It's not an oval like the shape of the head. It's just giving me kinda where the top of the head is going to be. So if I do my second drawing here, you can see that there's some movement where that right leg, which was in the front here. Let me turn this off so I can use my keyboard. So there's the first drawing. This right foot that's in a front is now starting to come back and now he's firmly planted almost a straight leg. And then this what was in the back foot here is now starting to come forward. And the arms are starting to make their way from front to back. And the way they do that is they kinda go through the center. So if we're just looking at these two drawings back here and here, we're just going back and forth. You can see we've kind of gone from a a wide open arms in a wide-open legs to almost a closed arms in a closed legs. And that's kind of, you know, we've got that, that's the action. And to get from here to here, there's, there's here. So, and then there's here. The more you do this, the easier it'll get. But this is just giving you an idea of how the animation works. So the next frame we kinda see that left leg kinda lifting up in arms, starting to go their directions. And now we're the weights here is on the back foot and the Other foot is is hanging in the air. And right about here. Yeah, right here is about our keyframe where he's the most spread apart. His legs and his arms are the most spread apart. So think of these as keyframes where the action is deferred, like the most extended the, you know, the arms aren't gonna go any further wide than they are in the legs aren't either. So with that said, I'm going to I'm just going to go through the whole of this and show you. But so that's it. And then from this drawing, if we were to look at the first drawing, they're real similar because, because they can animate into each other. So when we go to make our loop, and I go ahead and do that right now, make a cycle hook. Did that wrong. I want to add a drawing first. And then I'll make a cycle, and then I need to make that ten frames long. And now you'll see when we go from this drawing to this drawing that they lead into each other. So I'm gonna go ahead and just remove the cycle for now. I knew delete that drawing. There we go. Okay, back to ten frames. So that's the basic ten drawings that are gonna create our walk cycle. Now, when I'm actually building this, I don't, you can, you can animate straightforward like I've just done. That's the straightforward is just one frame after the other. But with the lock cycle, that's kinda hard unless you've done them a lot. So what you want to do really is find these key frames. So let's go ahead and create a new layer with the same time-frames, but they're blank. So we go, go up to modify layers and we'll duplicate layer timing to blink drawings. And that gives us this blank layer here. It's still called stick figures. I'm going to call this keyframes. Okay? So this is going to help us determine our keyframes. So I like this drawing as a keyframe. I'm just going to copy it. And I'll come up to our keyframes layer. And I'm going to paste it. So if we look at our stick figures, let's try and find the keyframes. So I know that on the widest point, I like that. So that to me would be a keyframe. So let's go ahead and grab that guy. We'll copy that. I'm going to come up to our keyframe layer and I'm going to paste him in. Okay? And then if I go, if I keep looking, I'm looking for key frames here. That, that's technically the same drawing as this. Just a little bit actually has a little wider. So I might even make that the keyframe. So let's go ahead and grab that one and paste that. Okay. Now I also want a keyframe kind of in the middle of these because of where he's his arms and his legs are kinda straight. And that's probably right about there. So let me go grab that. Copy that, and I'll paste that. And maybe maybe that that's the other straight one hair. So let me grab that. Let me grab it from the layer here, copy it, and paste it. Ok. So if I turn the original stick figure layer down, we're going to have a layer with right now there's 45 drawings out of the ten. And let's see what that looks like if we play that. So he's coming in and out because of the blank drawings. But it still looks like a walk cycle. And that's what the keyframes are doing for us, is they are showing us the key points in the motion. It's enough our brain to interpret that as a walk cycle. Even though there's blinked flashes, flashing in there, we can still see the motion. And so now we need to go in and draw our in-betweens. And if we turn on our onion skin here, we can see those two drawings. And we can just draw a drawing in-between. And this gets a little complicated if you don't do it a lot. But you kind of just take it limb by limb. So use a, you know, you know, which leg is the front leg and the note needs or the back leg and he knows it needs to start coming up. So it would probably look something like like that. And you would draw your inbetween like that in-between those two drawings. So don't forget to use your onion skin because that's what it really comes in handy. And another thing to pay attention to on a walk cycle is when the character is the most straight. So let me go to this one here. So he's the most right, his head is going to be as high as it gets because your elongated with a straight legs. And so you want to make sure that the head is a little bit higher than it is. Say, where he's full spread out and see the heads a little bit lower. Some animators will really go up and down with this. To me, it kinda gives it a too much of a cartoony look more than I like. But keep that in mind when you're making a walk cycle that you do want to have a little bit of up and down. If you remember something like the Flintstones when they would run, they had wouldn't move at all. It would just be the legs running arguable If that is kinda cheating or not. But, you know, it's still animation. Just make your own styles. And animation in itself can have styles. So just because they decided not to Bob the head up and down on a walk. It doesn't mean that it's not animation, it's just their style that they chose. And part of that choice was because budget going to try and keep the budget down. And it's easier to animate something. The head's not bobbing up and down, it's just less work. So you wanna make sure that you go through and you animate. You'd fill in these in-between drawings. And once you get your ten drawings, play it back and makes sure. And again, this is still the stick figure phage, so it shouldn't be that much work. But if we play this stick figure, what we're looking at right now is animating on the threes. Even though our project is set up at a frame rate of ten. But we're gonna fix that before we're finally done. 3. Cleaning up your animated stick figure: So let's go above the key friend. Let's imagine that we've drawn our keyframes and we've gotten to this layer here. At this point, what I like to do is I'll make another layer, or I may even draw it on top of the same layer. But let's, for the, for this study, let's make a new layer and I'm gonna call it torso. And as I bring this up here, I'll just do it about half here. Or if I pull all the way up and we play it just by drawing this like jelly bean shaped from his shoulders to his hips. It starting to fill them out a little bit more. And so I like to do that and I may even merge the torso and the stick figure layers into one layer. And you wanna make sure that the torso being here or potato or whatever shape you've got. It's got a little bit of bounce to it as well. Because, you know, your shoulders and your hips are kinda going up and down as you're walking. So you can kind of give that bounce at this stage as well. Now, the next stage after I've drawn the torso, I basically would do the cleaned up drawing. So let's go ahead and take a look at that. So if I bring that up, I'll bring torso opacity DNA on and I'm gonna bring my stick figure capacity down. So you can still see the underlying bones of this character. Now notice I haven't drawn the head yet and there's a reason for that, but let's go ahead and play this. So now I've drawn the body parts in the shorts and everything at this stage. And I know that the timing of the animation looks okay because we figured that out in the stick figure phase. So that's why I don't recommend going straight into a clean drawing. Before you've worked out your timing, figure out your timing in the stick figure phase. But once we've got our body kinda cleaned up and the drawing is to your satisfaction. Then what I do is I'll make another layer. So I'll show you how I do it. We go, we want to be on the body clean up layer and we click modify layers and we're gonna do a duplicate layer timing to blink drawings. And that's gonna give, and then I would call this head, and I'm going to call this head. Well, head copy works. So these are blank drawings right now, as you can see because they're white. What I like to do is I will draw the head one time. And it's just showing you this really quick here. I'm just going to grab the head from my reference image here. So let's do this real quick here. And this is real rough. This is not exactly how I work, but let's copy that. Okay, so I've got that copied. And then I'll come back up to the head layer. And at this point I would paste it. So if I do a paste, and now I can move it, I can place it pretty much where I want it. Right. Maybe something about like right there. And then I just click off of it and I've placed my head right where I want it. And the reason I do this is because if I find that if I draw the head every single frame, it gets the face gets a little warped like the nose bounces around on me in the eyes, kinda go wacky or the ear. And I just don't like the look. So this is a trick I've come up with. And maybe it's cheating a little bit, but I'm not having any animation in the face when he's walking. So it works for me. And I'm showing you the tricks that I use. So we would go to the next frame. And if I hit paste again, I just grabbed that same face and this time just place it on the body where it needs to go. So this was probably in if I click off there, it's placed it. So if I go from one to the other, there's a little bit of movement in the head. And we're going to use that, the ball that we've drawn here as a guidance of where to place that head. So I'm gonna go ahead and do this a few more times. And see. Now he's dropped down a little bit, although the head probably let's see, place that. Yeah, I'm not getting exactly the bounce on the head like I was talking about, but this is the process I go through to animate my walk cycle. And let's go ahead and paste that, bring it over, drop it where it needs to go on the neck kinda lined it up with the head and the shoulders where where it looks right. You know, you don't wanna go to loaves and it looks kinda hunchback or whatever. So and I just go through this and I've already done this. So I'm gonna go, just go up here and pull the capacity up on this layer. So this head layer. So if I could play this right now, and let's watch what the animation looks like. So you can see there's a little bit ahead bounce in there and that bounce may or may not be. I might want to just add a little bit, but that's the process. And this way I don't have, you know, like I say, the nose kind of bouncing all over the place and gotten getting warped within the walk cycle. He kind of looks like himself as he's walking. 4. Coloring your cleanup drawings: So once I've got this stage, the last thing I need to do is basically color it in. So I would go through and just drop the opacity off on these layers. I'm not needed anymore. And for body clean up, what i, instead of coloring this layer, I like to duplicate that layer and rename it colors. And then if I make a mistake in the coloring phase, I can always go back to my black and white drawings here and start over without having to redraw. So that's the reason that I like to duplicate the clean up inks. And at this point, you'd grab your paint bucket tool and start, you know, grab your, grabbed your colors of your character and start fillings defin. And once you've got that process done, then so I've already got my colors layer here that's already done. So let's go take a look at that and think colors has the head on it elsewhere. So let's pull that up. Yeah, I merged my colors with my head layer previously. So then I've got everything on one layer colored. And I may even actually call this final or something like that. Because that's got the colors and the head combined. But I like to keep all of these layers in case I need to come back, get a stage if I, especially after you've viewed your animation, sometimes you miss something in the stick figure phase where the animation doesn't look quite right. Where you can just go back and grab the right drawing from the right layer instead of having to reproduce it every time. So we've got our final, let's go ahead and play this. And there's our walk cycle. 5. Adjusting frame rates within your project: Here's a couple more tricks. Now he's actually walking on threes. But here's the trick. If I were to export this right now, remember, I've got my project setup at ten frame rate wall to go to make this work with my video editor as after I export it, I need to switch this back to 30 frames. So let's do this right now. Then what I'm gonna do is I'm going to take my final here. And I'm going to start adding two frames to each frame. So it went from one drawing to now it's holding that one drain for three frames. So I'm just gonna do this real quick on every single drawing. And once we're done, once we've got this done, you'll see, because now we're at 30 frames per second. Here's that 1 second line. So if I make this one more frame there it is either one. So we're right at that 1 second mark. And let's go ahead and play that. And it should look the exact same. Various. 6. Adding green screen to your animations: So now that my animation is ready for exporting into my video editor, what I'd like to do is one last thing is I like to color the background with this RGB green. And this green is, it's r of 0, g of 177, and b of 64. And here's the hex color if you're looking for that. But what this is, I just kinda save it in my palette here. And I'll fill the background with that color. And this is like a green screen background. I'll my character. Because right now rough animator doesn't export this. If you want transparency, you have to export as a PNG sequence. And I like to edit in Final Cut Pro, which doesn't work that great with PNG sequences. So ice like to export as QuickTime video. And I'll just knock out this green with the green screen effect in my edit, in my Final Cut Pro editing. So that's kinda the trick. So I'll just export this as a QuickTime video and I'll save it with the name that you want. And then that quicktime movie that it created is ready to be imported into your video editor. 7. Extend your animation with cycles: So at this stage, I want to create a cycle because I want this to loop for ten seconds of video. So if I go to my last frame here, I'm going to add a drawing, add after. And if I'm selected on this, I come up here and I hit makes cycle. Now, as you can see, it's only choosing these first two are the last two drawings in my cycle. So C over here, my Tool Options. And if I add to this number, you can see it's grabbing these extra frames. So I wanna make sure that I'm grabbing all ten frames in my cycle. And now I can extend the frame duration of my cycle here. Now, I know that 270 is gonna get me to where I need to go. So if I type that in and hit Enter, I pull back here on my horizontal timeline, horizontal zoom. There's, there's nine seconds, there's ten seconds. So that's given me a full 10 second looping walk cycle that I can use for video with the green screen background that I can easily knock out in Final Cut Pro. So let's go ahead and export that as QuickTime video. And I'm just gonna call this final. And we'll export that out. And we'll take a quick look at that before we're done. Now, once this is done rendering, at this point, I would like to save my work within rough animator. So I'm just going to come up here and hit Save. And we can hide rough animator. There we go. Here's our final file and of our walk cycle. And you can see here it's ten seconds long. And there we go. So I hope that you learned something in how to create your own walk cycles and how you can do so with only eight to ten drawings depending on your frame rate that you choose. If we were to animate this with 24 frames per second, eight drawings would have been enough to get us the same animating on the 3s that we chose. But again, I'm working with videos, so I need 30 frames per second. And in that case, I to animate on the threes. I need it to be ten drawings to get a full cycle, a walk cycle. And once you bring this into your video editor, you can have him walk across the screen and you can edit that stuff within your video editor. So hopefully you found this helpful and learn something about walk cycles and even frame rates today. Thanks. 8. Class Project: For our class project, you'll be animating your own walk cycle. You could animate it with your own character, a favorite cartoon character viewers, or just using a stick figure. Try to make the walk cycle complete within 1 second time or 30 frames. You can accomplish this with only ten drawings if you animate on 3's. Remember, that's one drawing holding for three frames before the next drawing begins. If you want, you can color your character and you can even make him loop the walk cycle for up to ten seconds. Exports your final animation to a QuickTime video and upload it to the class projects section. That's it. You'll soon have your own animated character that you can use and reuse in your future animation projects. Hang on there 1 second. I was just telling Patrick that I thought it would be a good idea if he provided a worksheet to help you draw your own walk cycle. Of course, he agreed with me. So here it is. You could download your own copy of this JPEG and the projects and resources section. And here's another tip. If you want a smoother walk cycle, try animated in it on 2S by adding in some more in-between frames. And if you wanted to be as smooth as possible, animated on one's. Patrick has another class here on skill share that goes more in depth on this concept called Understanding frame rates in 2D animation. So make sure to check it out if you need to. That's all for me. Z around. 9. Recap: Congratulations on completing this skill share class, but we're not done quite yet. Let's recap what we've just learned. Today. We learned how to create a walk cycle using only ten drawings. We also learned how to make that walk cycle loop for ten seconds. And now you know how to make it loop as long as you need. We also learned how using stick figures helps us get our walk cycle looking good before we try and add the details to our characters, by adding layers on top of our stick figure, we were able to add a torso and a cleaned up drawings layer. By duplicating are cleaned up drawings. We were able to color our character without worrying about messing up the original line art. And by adding another layer, we were able to copy and paste the head onto our character. This step helps keep the face looking consistent throughout the walk cycle. We also saw a few tricks I like to use, like adding a green screen background to the character. This helps knock out the background if you'd like to edit in Final Cut Pro, like I do. And by using the makes cycle button in rough animator, we were able to extend the walk cycle for ten seconds. Remember to post your work to your project's section of this class. I'll do my best to check all of the projects that come through and give feedback. Thank you for taking my class today. If you enjoyed this class, you should consider following my profile here on skill share. That way you will be notified when I post new classes. I also have over ten other animation classes here, and I have plans to create more soon. I hope you are able to learn something today to help you make your own animations. This has been patrick Davidson. See you next time.