Animating a Walk | John Pomeroy | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

4 Lessons (40m)
    • 1. Animating a Walk Introduction

    • 2. Lesson 1

    • 3. Assignment

    • 4. Lesson 2

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About This Class

A character’s walk is often used to introduce a character. The character’s movement communicates his or her personality. Getting the movements to appear natural involves many animation principles including opposing action, center of gravity and others.

John Pomeroy shares his traditional 2D animation techniques in this online animation course. John Pomeroy, animator and directing animator, has animated, supervised or directed many beloved characters including Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Rabbit & Christopher Robin in “Winnie-the-Pooh & Tigger Too”, Feivel in “An American Tail”, Littlefoot in “The Land Before Time”, “The Firebird” in “Fantasia 2000″ and many others.

John Pomeroy begins the introduction with an overview of his background and of character locomotion. In the first lesson, John describes the use of animation principles in the walk including opposing actions, arm and leg movements and center of gravity. He also describes the importance of references and shows a walk sequence of Dexter from the video game Space Ace. John then walks through the steps of animating a walk including using an exposure sheet. He then describes the student assignment. Finally, he shows his completed walk sequence and how adjusting the timing affects the animation.

Once you have completed the walk animation, Animating a Run is the next logical step.

Meet Your Teacher

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John Pomeroy

Animator & Directing Animator


John Pomeroy, animator and directing animator, started work at The Walt Disney Company in 1973 as a background artist, and became a full animator in 1974 to work on Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too. While working at Disney, he met fellow animators Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, and began working with them on an independent short film project, Banjo the Woodpile Cat.

In 1979 John Pomeroy, Bluth, Goldman and several other Disney animators left the studio to form the independent studio Don Bluth Productions (later to become Bluth Group), which produced the film Secret of NIMH and the animation for laserdisc video games Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace. The independent studio later reformed as Sullivan-Bluth Studios and opened a major animation facility in Dublin, Ireland.

Pomeroy... See full profile

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1. Animating a Walk Introduction: Hi, everybody, and welcome to talk by a pro. I'm your instructor, John Pomeroy, and it's wonderful to have you with us today. Um, my background and animation goes back. For four decades, I started an animation in 1973 and have loved it ever since. I've worked on some films such as Fox and A Hound, Pete's Dragon, Secret of NIMH, Polka on ISS, The Simpsons Movie and On and On. One of things we're gonna be talking about today for a lesson is how to make a character walk. It's kind of the fundamental basics of animation, and most animators know the importance of making characters walk, whether it's with two legs, four or even six or seven. We're gonna go through talking about and describing the look, emotion, inertia and gravity elements in walking and how all of this translates into making a really living personality come to life. Now we've talked before in my lesson about how to make a character talk. How did you dialogue this? One kind of should precede that because making a character walk is extremely fundamental and finding out what the true personality of a character is So glad you're with us and please stay tuned for the lesson that we're going to be teaching today. Thank you 2. Lesson 1: Hi, everybody. Welcome back to our lesson on how to make a character walk. Now some of the basic things involved is on up and down action, a side to side action and placement of the steps. And I mean, how many times have you ever done like a basic character? Walk with your own hands? You know how the locomotion takes place. You know, when they foot is lifted, Usually it is, you know, high off the ground with one foot suspending the extra body off the ground. Got a little manic in here. That kind of shows you basically in profile and forward of the angle of walk. What happens? So in this particular post here, we see that the foot is kicked out front while this foot in the back is still on the ground . But notice the opposing action that happens relative to the arms to keep ourselves balance . The way our walk has been designed by our creator is that there's an opposing action while the left leg is out forward. The arm, the right arm is out forward to kind of counterbalance and likewise happens when the next step is taken place. We reverse that and the opposing arm will go back and the other arm will go forward. So this locomotion helps us to keep balance at all times. Um, when this foot is down on the ground, this knee is probably is bent up like this, and it's getting ready to kick out and then kick and then rest down on the ground to finish its cycle. Now we're going to be exploring this in further detail I am drawing. But I just wanted to kind of give you a few snippets of information to sort of kick around beforehand. Also remember that the shoulders will be level as well as the hips on a standard walk. They sometimes I mean, you can do extra things if you want to specialize the walk. But for your basic want, keep the shoulders level in hips level as well and sowing. Remember the opposing action. So once again, this foot is going out while this arm is going back and likewise on the other side. Okay, you know, with anybody who's doing a walk for a first time, I always recommend that references is kind of important and, you know you can find reference in the most unlikely places. You know, when you go to the library, there's a great book that you might check out called Humans and Animals in Motion by Edward my Bridge. This was a photographic work that was done over 100 years ago. It's a great reference because it breaks down the sequence of steps off Quadra, peds and bipeds so you can see how the articulation happens. Also, you know, we're going to show you a walk that I did a few years ago from a production called Space Aches. And this is a walk. This is the character named Dexter. And, you know, you could see the basic rudimentary foot placements will run that for you Right now. We can show you, um, also, you know, going to venues like a shopping mall or to the zoo where people congregate. You can sit on a bench and just watch people moving past you. You know, sometimes you get great. Inspiration is not only just a basic walk, but a character walk. If there a short, personal tall person, uh, the locomotion will be a little bit different. Everybody has their own signature motion when they're walking So what I like to do right now is kind of explore an idea for a simple design that we can use something that's easy to maneuver, something that doesn't have a lot of frills to it. So I'm gonna turn around and watch me do a basic design for the character that we can use for our walk. Okay, So in starting a basic design for a character I like toe, you know, start with like a kidney bean shape for the body. So that would be kind of your basic tour. So and then a basic ball for the head and then some tapering shapes that come from the bottom of the torso for legs and then around feet attached to the legs. Now just draw medium lying in front of tour. So in front of the sphere and then kind of an indication of an eye line always helps for me . If I want to put some eyes there, I kind of know where they go in a impression for the nose. So that's my basic body right there. And then from that I can attach some tapering shapes from arms and maybe balls that would indicate you know, hands or rolled fist at the end of those shapes. And that's basically what I would want to do my first character walk with now. I mean, I can go in and put a little bit mawr to it. You know, say that that were a basic shirt that the character was wearing and maybe some short pants and maybe a slight definition of a kind of ah, sneaker, A real basic shoe for the character on impression for the mouth, Uh, in an ear. Keep it. Keep it real simple. I mean, this is getting into detail you probably won't need for what you're going to do with a basic walk, but that gives you an idea of the type of character that you can design for for this particular need. Um, and hopefully we'll be able to use this character in the future on our future exercise for how to make characters walk. So now we've got our design, and we can begin the process of trying to find the first physician on the walk. Now, since the character is basically a series of up and down action, so what? I'm going to try to find or design is my first down position. I'll grab a piece of paper, figure my playing that I'm gonna be walking on, get a head indication. There's my kidney being shaped for the tour. So and now I'm gonna attach a leg. There's a foot now. The fact that this is going to be a cycle means that the feet will be slipping constantly as this character is moving, giving it a illusion of perpetual movement. Otherwise, it won't look like the character is traveling, so it's important that you get a ground line and that the feet are placed on their one forward, one backward. Now remember, we were talking briefly about opposing actions, so we have the foot that's facing us right now is forward. The foot in the back isn't back. So the arm that's just above this would be it would. Probably The right arm would be placed back in opposition to this foot, so that will be our opposing action position. So we'll put an indication of, ah, hand in the arm. There's his waistline, and then there's this is the far furthest arm away from us. There's the eye line will do an indication of an ear, maybe a nose, so there would be our position. Maybe we'll call that drawing number one, and it's our first down position. Now the next one. What we want to do is let's get the other down position, which means Okay, this is a down position where the right foot is forward left foot is backward. Now we're going to do a mirror version of that where it's just the reverse of that so we can have a complete cycle of one step in front of the other. Let's my drawing my plane. We can call this drawing 11 and we'll put our kidney being torso shape right there. Ball for the head. Here I neck and then we're going to reverse the feet so that now the right foot is in back and the left foot is forward. My leg, foot position, waste. So now the right foot being in the back means my right arm will be forward like that, and the left arm, which is furthest from us, will be back in opposition to the left leg. So there we have our to down positions that mirror each other one with the right leg and foot forward and the other one with the left leg and foot forward and the opposing armed action. Okay, now let's begin working on our up drawing. I'm going to rearrange the drawing so I could go from drawing 11 to drawing one. But it could go either way. It really doesn't matter what the order is. Uh, this is going from 11 which is I'm going to pick up in the middle drawing where he's up. The rear leg, which is the right foot, is going to be picked up and placed forward of of my character. So now this is the up position, and this will be the furthest highest position because if you chart out the walk, it kind of goes in kind of a wave action from down to up and then back down again. So we'll bring the head up about this high right up here. Let's see, that's our rough placement of the head. There's his neck. Bring the torso about that high. So between drawing 11 and drawing one, I'm gonna call this drawing 25. That's my up position. You could see between to bottom positions. This one is raising up a little bit in order to move the back foot up and forward to catch himself. Now, this foot as he's bringing the rear foot up, it's sliding that to give you the illusion that he's traveling. So let's say the beginning of the toe of that far. This foot is here and the back part is right about there. So we see the foot traveling back as he is making forward progress with his walk. Now we have the right foot and leg being lifted. Here is this foot there. So we see that leg being lifted up in an art getting ready to be placed here in front of him. And while this is happening, the arms are moving in opposition to this action here. So the right arm is now dropping and swinging to the back of the body like so. And the left arm, which you can barely see on the other side, will be also dropping down and swinging forward to the forward part of the body. I get just a piece of the arm and back there. So now we have one complete stride with our rough design. Okay? Now we will create the mirror of this drawing, the other drawing to complete two full strides. We'll call this drawing 25. The head will go right over. Where are other head is for a position neck? A rough indication of the kidney being torso. And then this leg, this forward leg of drawing one is now traveling back. So we see this foot the toe of the foot going from here a little bit further back to say about right there and then the arm IHS swinging pretty much like this one is only the arm that's in front of us. I think is now swinging in the opposite direction so this drawing would be placed. I see. Actually, I made a mistake. This should be drawing number nine. Nine will be going between 11 and drawing one. You could see it. Actually, this arm is moving forward. You could see it swinging forward as the right foot is moving in this direction. The arm is swinging forward in this direction in a park forward, the left leg that's on the other side, hidden from us. The foot is being brought up and tucked underneath the body while the right leg is being slipped to the back. We see this moving up and down now in the full stride. So if we put all of these drawings together, we have to complete strides that we can shoot as a cycle post test. Here we're going up and the right Legace slipping backwards and the right arm is swinging forward. Then it comes back down. The right arm completes its bark forward and the right foot is placed all the way back. Then the right foot starts to rise up again as the right arm is swinging in an arc to the back of the body. 25. To make this a complete cycle will continue and go right into drawing one again, where this foot will complete its step forward and the right arm will finish its art all the way to the back of the body. Likewise, on the other side, the left arm is going full forward, the front of the body. So now we have our basic positions and let's start putting in some of our breakdown tries. So between one and nine, I think we need a heart intermediate drawing. We'll call that number five. Now the head is coming up. We have our indication of our torso or kidney being shaped the neck. The head is coming up. You know, I want to remind you we had a lesson previously that we did a lesson about Dragon overlap, and it applies to this position right here. The body is now going upwards as the legs are traveling forward. The inertia that's happening here could cause overlapping action on the head so that we have the ear right there. And now we'll have an eye line and we would have a nose there if we were could draw it in. But the body is going in this direction, but the but the head can drag behind in the opposing direction will get. It'll give you a much richer animated walk and it won't. It'll look loose and not stiff, so we wanna watch out to do that. So we want to drag the nose, dragged the head just a little bit. Here's our waistline. Here's our arm that's starting to come forward from. Were traveling from one position. Our position from number one, our position number nine. So it's swinging down and forward. Ah, small suggestion to to keep your walks kind of loose and not rigid is Luke fraught? Look for opportunities where you can if the if there's clothing or drapery on the body, make an effort to drag that so that this is going this way. As the arm is pulling forward, we want to see fabric dragging behind. Then we have We're arm on the far site, which is our left arm and hand. It's coming down. I've done something here. Well, I've dragged the fist a little bit, so it's not a real mechanical motion where the hand is coming down like a robot. I'm giving it a little extra flesh your life by dragging the fist upwards as the elbow on the arm moves down in an art. But once again, that little dragon overlap makes the the walk look that much better. Can we have our foot slipping just a little bit to give it the illusion that it's moving forward in this cycle? Legs slightly bent. He's pushing off. Now this foot is starting toe lift off the ground and is going to be traveling forward so we'll do foot position right there. His leg and it's coming up on an art. It will swing around and then loop over and land in front of him. Okay, so we have our our breakdown. Are transitional throwing here between one and nine. Call that number five. So now he is lifting up and moving forward. Head dragging just a little bit. King. Next, we've got our drawing 11 and, uh, there needs to be a a drawing. Actually, you know what? That shouldn't be 11. I change that. Let's make that 17. Because we have to save room. Now this This will be, um, done on an animation What we call fours. So every fourth frame will have a drawing, but that it could be it could be treated as if these were drawings. 12345 But as we get further on and to maybe putting extra in betweens will give it thes numbers for right now, drawing 13 is what we want here that goes in between drawing nine and 17. So here we have his high point position where the left leg is being brought forward, the right leg is slipping behind and then 17 is the plant. It's the down position where the left leg and foot have landed and the right arm and hand have swung out forward in front of the front of the character, so we'll start with the head and kidney shaped body next. Now, just like we had the head drag coming up, it was dragging down as it's coming down as the body is being forced down, energy is pulling it down. We want to drag the head up for a nice little bit of overlapping action. So I just indicate that they're real quick, that we have the arm swinging forward waistline. And now what happens with the leg to give it snap on a walk is we go from a bent leg toe, a landing leg and the leg in between to give it some strength, and some punch will make it straight so we can get a nice stretch and squash out of this appendage. We want the leg to reach out and catch itself from falling with this foot so that lake will kick out and catch itself and then plant and squash. Likewise, the foot is continuing to slip on the right leg backwards, and then the lay on the arm on the far side the right arm and hand are swinging back in a low arc and up. So the right the right arm and hand are swinging up forward, left arm and hand are swinging backwards. Can we have one complete stride right there? There's a complete stride. Okay, Now we're going to do the same thing on Lee on the other feet. We're gonna have the right foot traveling up and forward. So we'll go to our extreme position so that this is used as a cycle and one foot placement can repeat itself and follow through into another. We will animate directly back from 17 into drawing one, and these were both down positions. So are a position that we did previously is drawing 25. So we're going to break down the action, starting between 17 and 25. And that would be drawing 21. We'll go in between that Now we're starting to move our right leg up and forward. We'll do our kidney shaped torso. This is step number two. So it's two step to strike cycle, and we're doing this second stride. Once we complete. This will have ah, full cycle for both, for both strides. that we can shoot over and over and over again. Now, what I'm doing here also once again is since the body is moving up, we want to drag the head damn for nice overlapping action. Okay, the leg is lifting up, right leg and right foot are lifting up and moving forward up and that's gonna come forward are a waste lying far arm. The left arm is now swinging forward in an arc and the right arm and hand IHS swinging is swinging down in an arc to the back of the body. No, I am also dragging the arm or the fits just a little bit because as the elbow right here is pulling back in an arc, going to drag the fit so goes in the opposing direction just to give it some nice overlap and drag, the left foot is now slipping behind underneath the body to catch the weight of the body is it lifts off. There's are drawing 21 in between 17 and 25. So now we've got a lift off and now we're ready for drawing, which we will call 29 which will be the completion of our last our second stride head is coming down, see, well, rough in our kidneys. Candy being body are attached head. And like we did in the previous stride, let's drag the head body is coming down. We're gonna drag the head in the opposing direction. Okay? Like with the other stride that we were talking about to give it some extra punch. We're gonna straighten the leg out so that right that right leg is it kicks out, is going to straighten to catch itself from falling waste. And the left foot is now slipping a little bit further behind. Make sure that each time you slipped the foot underneath the character, it's the same amount for each drawing. Otherwise, that make tend to get a little jerky. It's walking, playing, and then the right arm is swinging back. Swinging back on the far are the left arm on the far side of the body is swinging forward in the opposing direction, so it's rough, but it's it's all there. That's our basic walk. So we have the completion of the second stride, and now we have enough to shoot a full cycle. So let's take a look and see what this looks like. So here's the finished basic walk. Now you can add definitely more bells and whistles if you wanted to put hair on the character or extra extra objects or whatever to add to the overlapping action. But this is it. This is the basic locomotion. This is the basic to stride walk cycle. 3. Assignment: So now that we've got our walk done, what I'd like you to do is take your basic, simple character design and go and create your own walk. Try to remember, you know, gravity, the up and down action, the opposing actions and overlapping actions. When you're doing this walk. Okay, good luck. Oh, and before I forget, let me mention something about X sheets. When you get ready to photograph your pencil, test your walk cycle. It's a good idea to have the drawings listed in order on binder paper, a notebook paper or, like we mentioned in a previous lesson on dialogue the exposure sheet and, um, in an exposure sheet or or binder paper. Whatever you want to take, record the drawings and how they'll appear in there in what order they're given for your cycle. Here I've I've written them all out drawing, starting, withdrawing 159 13 17 2125 29 then going back to drawing number one to continue the cycle and onwards from five. Set 59 13 17 2125 29 then back toe one again. That way you won't get confused as to which drawing with where? That way, if it's written down at a glance, you can check yourself and make sure that you done the cycle and correct order. Okay, good luck. 4. Lesson 2: everybody, we're back and I'm going to show you my version of the walk assignment that we have been working on. I'm I shot various different speeds in in the walk cycles. I wanted to try to see if one could be a little more spunk year old snappier. So here is walk Cycle number one. And this is the way it appears on the X sheet that I showed you. The drawings were shot on fours. We have all the action, basically there with the overlapping action, the contrast ing action or opposing action of arms to the legs, you could see the overlapping action on the head. Then I will show you. Here's a variation. This is walk cycle number two. It's a little faster than walk Cycle number one. I just wanted to see what it would look like. The same drawings in a snappier cycle. What I did was, instead of having it on fours, I shot this on twos, so I took all of the drawings and shot them two frames of peace and it's fun to watch. I mean, all the mechanics air there, the overlapping action, the opposing action and everything. It's a spunky, spunky little walk and then, for my third variation, walk Cycle number three. It's about as long as walk cycle number one. The only difference is is the way I exposed the drawings instead of it being on fours all the way through during the high point of the walk, where he goes up on one foot. I am exposing those drawings on fours and sixes to give Mawr time up there and then when he comes down when he lands, those drawings before and at and after the land are on twos. So it makes for an interesting kind of a little swagger, almost. But it just gives you an idea of how you can take one basic action, and I don't know, give it each a special personality by just adjusting the timing anyway. That's it for taught by pro how to make your character walk. Hope you enjoyed it and make sure that when you shoot your test after you've animated, please post them so we can all take a look and enjoy your work. Once again, thank you from talk by a pro. I enjoyed teaching you and hope that you'll take a look at our next lesson we're going to be doing on how to make characters run bye bye