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All animators must learn to walk before they can run. In 2D Character Animation, industry expert George Maestri teaches the basic principles every animator must know to build a foundation for more complex work. These principles are relevant regardless of software used or animation style. George explains how good animation depends on a firm knowledge of the laws of motion, which inform the principles of animation. He teaches the basics of creating characters, squash and stretch, pose-to-pose animation, walking and running, track reading, and dialogue animation. He also shows how to use After Effects and Flash to apply the tools learned in the course. Exercise files accompany this course.
Now that I have this first pose, this extended pose, set up, I can start animating the walk. Now, when I animate the walk, I am going to start with the feet and then just move up the body. I'm going to do the feet, then the hips, then the legs, and then the rest of the body. But before I can do any of this, I need to know some timing information. I need to know how long does it take the character to make one complete step. But before I start animating anything, I need to know the timing of the walk.
In other words, I need to know how long it takes the character to take one step. Now this will vary depending upon the character. Some characters will be long and slow and lumbering and they'll take a lot of time to take a step. Some characters will be fast, small, tiny, quick and they all step a lot more quickly. But for the average character, it's generally about 2 steps per second, which means that the character will take a right and a left step within a second. So for 24 frames a second, that's about 12 frames per step and 30 frames per second it's about 15 frames per step.
But generally, if we're animating at 30 frames per second, we up that to 16 frames per step, just because you can divide it in half to get eight and that makes it much easier to animate the walk. You don't want to be animating at seven-and-a-half frames, for example. So with this character we're actually animating at 24 frames per second. So I'm going to go ahead and set up a timeline with 24 frames. Now, once we have this set up, we're ready to animate. But in order to animate the walk again, I'm going to start with the feet and move my way up.
So just to make things a lot more clear I'm going to isolate the feet of this character, so I'm going to go ahead and turn off everything but the feet. So I'm going to go ahead and turn off the legs and also turn off the rest of the character. So all we have are the character's two feet and so let's just get these animating and then we'll worry about the rest of the character. In fact, I'm going to go ahead and start this animation with the left foot.
So I'm going to turn off the right foot and the reason I'm starting with the left foot is it's the one that is forward and it's much easier to start with the forward foot than it is with the foot that's back because as you'll see it's much easier to get those first 12 frames in. So I've got my timeline here at frame 0 and I'm going to go ahead and scrub forward to frame 12, which is halfway through that cycle. Then all I really need to do is just slide this foot back so it hits that line. In other words, so it's at pretty much the same position that the right foot was in.
In fact, if I turned-on the right foot, you would see that I pretty much mirror at the two. Now one is a little bit higher than the other, just because of perspective but you can see I have pretty much matched both feet. So, now once I have this, I have already got the first half of the cycle, which is just sliding back straight along the ground. Now the last half of the cycle is this foot moving forward, so to do that again we're doing a cycle. So I'm going to go ahead and scrub towards the end of this. Actually I got it looping at 23 because frame 24 is going to be identical to frame 0 and if I loop at 24, I'm going to get a double play of the same frame.
So what I'm doing here is I'm just scrubbing to 23 and then just copying those frames to 24. So what I have done is I have actually copied what's at frame 0 to frame 24, and then I've created a keyframe here in the middle. So, this is what I've got. So basically, this foot is just sliding back and forth. Now this just looks like he is walking on ice or something. He is really not taking a step, because as this foot moves forward from frame 12 to 24, it's actually going to lift up.
So in order to do this, I'm just going to go halfway through this step here, which is kind of right around the passing position, and I'm just going to go ahead and move the foot up vertically, so I'm just going to go ahead and lift up that foot. So now we've got him moving back and then lifting up and moving forward. Let's go ahead and play this. But as you can see it's not really a step. That foot is going to rotate down. Gravity is going to pull that foot down and the foot is also going to drag back.
So at this point, I really want to rotate this foot down a bit and that will give me the sense of weigh,t that gravity is pulling it down and also a sense of drag and that it's wanting to stay put. But we also have two other points that we need to consider, and that is as this foot lifts off, just think of how a foot really lifts off of the ground. What it does is the heel lifts and then you roll off the ball of your foot onto your toe and then the foot lifts off the ground. So we're really not rolling the foot off the ball of the toe here.
So in order to do that, I need to do another rotation. So I'm going to go about 2 frames forward, so I've got from frame 12 to 18. 18 is in the middle. So about frame 14, which is about a third of the way between that middle pose, and I'm going to go ahead and rotate this foot down so that it pretty much touches the ground. Then I'm going to slide the foot back a little bit. I'm going to again bring it back to that line and what this does is it gives the impression that foot is rolling off of the ball of the foot and then lifting up.
So now, we'd get something like this. So now it looks a lot more like he is actually taking a step. At the end of this, we also don't want the foot to set down like this, because typically what happens is we set down on the heel. So we lift off of the ball of the foot, but we set down on the heel and in this case, his foot is still kind of leaning a bit forward, which means he is setting down on the ball of the foot. That's kind of more of like tip toe type of step and that's not what we want. So let's go ahead and flip that foot up right before he hits.
So, I want to get a little bit of contrast in there, so I'm just going to put that in somewhere around frame 22 or 23 and so now we've got him coming down and then he flips up, so he can come down on his heel. So let's just take a look at what that looks like. Much better. So now that I have this cycle in place, we can do the same thing for the right foot. So I'm going to go ahead and turn off this left foot and then turn on the right. So for this foot, we're actually animating it backwards.
We are moving it forward first and then sliding it back on the ground second. So I'm going to go to frame 12 and I'm going to just slide it forward and this is to kind of get his final position for that frame. So now he is basically moving his foot forward on this frame, so then I'm actually copy the keys at frame 0 to frame 24. So, now I have him doing this. He moves forward first and then back.
But of course, when he is moving forward, his feet are lifting off the ground. So halfway between 0 and 12 is frame 6, so I'm going to lift his foot off the ground here and when do we do, we rotate it down to get a little bit of drag. So now we have this. But we also need to roll him off the ball of his foot, so I'm going to go frame 2, which is about a third of the way between frame 0 and 6.
So that way you could do in your animation that has different timing. Just remember that it's about a third of the way in rather than two frames or three frames or whatever. So I'm going to go ahead and put that foot here and then slide it back so it touches the line. So again, I just want this to look like he is rolling off the ball of his foot and that actually looks pretty good. Then he lifts up, passes and then about two frames and again this is going to be almost a hard number, because you want this to set down fairly quickly.
So you want him to kind of hold this foot up until almost right before he sets it down. You want to flip that foot up right there. So now we've got this and that's look pretty good. With that, we have both feet firmly walking and let's go ahead and play those. So just by that, you can see you've got a pretty good sense of cadence to the walk and now once you have the feet in place, the next step is to move towards the hips and get the weight of the character moving up and down.
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