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2D Character Animation
Illustration by John Hersey

Animating a walk: The legs


From:

2D Character Animation

with George Maestri

Video: Animating a walk: The legs

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.
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  1. 2m 18s
    1. Introduction
      1m 2s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 16s
  2. 48m 21s
    1. Designing characters
      3m 22s
    2. Tracing characters
      4m 32s
    3. Creating joints that work
      3m 53s
    4. Working with outlines
      4m 0s
    5. Accessorizing your characters
      2m 21s
    6. Creating parts for replacement animation
      1m 41s
    7. Rigging hierarchies in After Effects
      5m 33s
    8. Rigging replacement animation in After Effects
      5m 52s
    9. Rigging with the Puppet tool in After Effects
      3m 16s
    10. Rigging Flash characters
      5m 50s
    11. Rigging replacement animation in Flash
      4m 25s
    12. Rigging with the Bone tool in Flash
      3m 36s
  3. 55m 29s
    1. The first law of motion
      3m 3s
    2. The second law of motion
      3m 45s
    3. The third law of motion
      3m 19s
    4. Using slow in and slow out
      5m 34s
    5. Arcs and smooth motion
      5m 4s
    6. Understanding overlap and follow-through
      5m 16s
    7. Animating overlap and follow-through
      5m 46s
    8. Understanding squash and stretch
      3m 10s
    9. Animating squash and stretch
      4m 40s
    10. Squashing and stretching characters
      5m 16s
    11. Understanding weight
      3m 27s
    12. Understanding anticipation
      4m 54s
    13. Animating anticipation and weight
      2m 15s
  4. 45m 50s
    1. Internal vs. external forces
      4m 45s
    2. Bringing characters to life
      4m 57s
    3. Animating blinks
      4m 37s
    4. Animating changes in eye direction
      2m 43s
    5. Animating head turns
      8m 1s
    6. Creating a strong line of action
      4m 16s
    7. Creating strong silhouettes
      2m 19s
    8. Pose-to-pose animation: Blocking
      4m 32s
    9. Pose-to-pose animation: Animating
      4m 21s
    10. Pose-to-pose animation: Finalizing
      5m 19s
  5. 46m 53s
    1. A walk in four poses
      2m 27s
    2. Motion of the head and body
      1m 32s
    3. Walk cycles and backgrounds
      1m 40s
    4. Skeleton motion and walking
      4m 2s
    5. Animating a walk: Contact position
      3m 0s
    6. Animating a walk: The feet
      9m 10s
    7. Animating a walk: The body
      5m 19s
    8. Animating a walk: The legs
      8m 21s
    9. Animating a walk: The upper body and arms
      3m 46s
    10. Animating a walk: The head
      2m 50s
    11. Animating a walk: Squash and stretch
      4m 46s
  6. 26m 52s
    1. A run in four poses
      4m 10s
    2. Animating a run: First pose
      4m 39s
    3. Animating a run: Second pose
      3m 45s
    4. Animating a run: Third pose
      3m 27s
    5. Animating a run: Fourth pose
      5m 1s
    6. Animating a run: Upper body
      5m 50s
  7. 37m 6s
    1. The basics of dialogue animation
      4m 35s
    2. Reading tracks and assigning mouth shapes
      5m 33s
    3. Phonemes and lip-syncing
      8m 36s
    4. Animating dialogue: Animating the body
      6m 27s
    5. Animating dialogue: Assigning mouth shapes
      4m 10s
    6. Animating dialogue: Finalizing
      7m 45s
  8. 1h 27m
    1. Animating a scene
      2m 0s
    2. Setting up the scene in After Effects
      3m 2s
    3. Animating the feet in After Effects
      10m 40s
    4. Animating the legs in After Effects
      4m 21s
    5. Animating the upper body in After Effects
      9m 44s
    6. Animating the mouth and blinks in After Effects
      7m 5s
    7. Setting up the scene in Flash
      4m 6s
    8. Animating the feet in Flash
      9m 0s
    9. Animating the body in Flash
      5m 23s
    10. Animating the legs in Flash
      7m 24s
    11. Animating the hands in Flash
      11m 54s
    12. Animating the mouth in Flash
      12m 26s
  9. 33s
    1. Goodbye
      33s

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2D Character Animation
5h 50m Advanced Nov 13, 2009

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Creating character joints that really work
  • Building with the Puppet tool in After Effects
  • Understanding internal versus external forces in movement
  • Reading tracks and assigning mouth shapes for dialogue
  • Setting up a scene in both After Effects and Flash
Subjects:
3D + Animation Animation Character Animation
Author:
George Maestri

Animating a walk: The legs

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.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about 2D Character Animation.


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Q: In the chapter "Creating joints that work,” the author uses a circular point for the joints in the arm animation. Do circles need to be drawn in the joints while tracing the character, or there is another method that can be used?
A: It doesn't absolutely have to be a circle, as shown in the video. However, that method is show because it’s the easiest way to make sure the joints will rotate easily.
It’s a matter of personal preference, so use whatever method will work best for each character.
 
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