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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.
When animating a walk, I always find that the hips and the two feet are the three major points that need to be pinned down first. Once you get those, the rest of the detail kind of fills itself in. With those three points animated, let's see what we have. And you can see you have a very firm basis for the walk with just these three things animated. Let's go ahead and fill in the gap between the hips and the feet by animating the legs.
Now, I typically animate the legs after the feet and the hips just because, well, those three points are so important that I want to make sure I get them right. And it also makes it much easier just to bridge the gap because the legs would kind of fill themselves in naturally. If you are trying to actually animate from the hips down the feet, the legs kind of get in the way. I kind of like doing it with this method, which is basically disconnecting the legs from the hips and the feet, because it just makes a much more sense in terms of animation workflow.
So, let me go ahead and show you what I have so far. As you can see, the legs aren't doing much of anything. So, let's go ahead and get them working. I am actually going to go ahead and start with the right leg first. Because right here is where it does one of its more complex motions, which is bend and pass them under the body. When it's going from the forward position, it's actually just fairly straight. So, let's go ahead and animate these legs. So, I have the legs actually setup so that I have go the top part of the leg rotates and then I can also bend it at the knee. Here I have kind of a knee bend.
And let's just go ahead and lay in some beginning keyframes. So, now as this foot comes up, it's going to bend at the knee. So, right around frame 3, I am going to go ahead and bend this leg forward and then just kind of bend the knee so that it's at about the right angle and then maybe do some repositioning here. And that's kind of the value of actually making this character all the same color, because I can actually cheat a little bit by moving this leg and not having to worry about it kind of connecting into a pair of pants or something like that.
So, now I have got a kind of just bending up and you can see here it works well on this frame here, on frame 3, but there is a little bit of disconnect here. So, I am just going to go through this frame by frame. It's very easy just to kind of tweak this in and again the only thing you really need to worry about is this connection here at the ankle where it kind of fits into the shoe. You want to make sure that doesn't slide too much.
But it is moving fairly quickly, so if there are little bit of jostles, the eye will never catch it. The only reason that you really want to remain firm is that if something is remaining solid. But this is really changing shape and direction so much that you are not going to notice it. So, let's go ahead over to the passing position, which is where the foot passes under the body and again this isn't enough. I actually need more of a bend in that knee. So, let's go ahead and bend that knee a little bit more and I am going to go ahead and flip that leg up.
I want that knee to be pretty much as far forward as possible. And I think I have maybe a little bit too much bend on that. So let's go ahead and just rotate that right about there. And again, I am looking at this connection here and I want to make sure that I got a good line off of his rear end on to that hip. So, I am just trying to get a nice placement there. So, that should work. And because this is a fairly straight in between here, I am not really bending that knee too much. I don't need much of an in-between, between frames 3 and 6.
So, I have only set keyframes here at frame 3 and then at frame 6. So, now comes the other complicated part, which is this leg has to kick out and set down here. So, let's go ahead and just go all the way forward to frame 12 and I am going to just set this pose out. So, I am going to select this leg and I am going to rotate it so that we have got the knee in the right position. I am also going to kind of straighten out that knee, not too much.
I don't want to overextend that knee. I want to get kind of a nice arc along this, so you can see how this is kind of a nice little arc and then just go ahead and again position it above the ankle. So now, I have got this kind of coming in like this. But you can see here, right before this leg sets down, I am going to bend that knee just a little bit, so I have a little bit more straightening out on that leg here. So, let's go ahead and just tweak that. So, I really want this leg to kind of remain bent and then straighten out very quickly.
So, that should pretty much do it. So, now I have got a keyframe on frame 6, which is that passing position. A keyframe on frame 10 and another one at 12, just to straighten it out. So, now let's go ahead and just play that to see how it works. And you can see that the first half of the cycle works pretty well. So, let's just go ahead and get that last half. So, you can see we've got him going into the passing position here at frame 18. So, I am going to go ahead and just rotate that leg down and maybe straighten out that knee just a little bit.
But again, I don't want to over extend that knee, but I do want to straighten it out just enough so I get enough length on that part of the foot to pass under the body. So again, I am just positioning this. This is the key position point. This is just going to disappear. It doesn't matter as much where this hits the body. Just as long as you get a pretty straight line of action from here all the way down. This is a point where the character is supporting all of his weight on this right foot.
So now, he comes in and then for the last pose, again, what I am going to do is copy the pose here. So, I am going to copy this leg pose at frame 0 and I am going to copy it over to frame 24 and do the same for the bottom part of the leg, which would be the knee. So again, I am just getting this pose to match up on frame 24, so that way when it cycles from frame 23 over to 0, it's going to match up.
So now, it looks pretty good. It looks like right here, there is a little bit of a dip right there. You can see how this is actually going a little bit too far down on that ankle. So, I am going to just go ahead and just do one little correction key right about here and just go ahead and lift that leg up, just to get that line because what the eye is going to see is the space between this, so I want to make sure that stays reasonably constant. So let's go ahead and take a look at that. It's pretty good.
So let's go ahead and scrub through this. Right there, there is actually a little glitch. So, what I am going to do is just scrub through this and just do a little bit of tweaking here, just to make sure that this looks good. There we go. Okay, so now I have got one leg animated. It looks pretty good. So as you can see, by bridging the gap between the hip and the foot with the leg, it actually makes for a fairly convincing animation. So, let's go ahead and take a look at what this looks like with both feet animated.
Now, you are going to animate the left foot exactly the same as the right. So, I am not going to go ahead and go through that process twice. So, let's just go ahead and see what they both look like. So, there we have it. So, now we have got the whole lower body animated and we can now move on to the upper part of the body. We have got our firm foundation of our walk. Let's go ahead and start adding in the additional details.
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