Join George Maestri for an in-depth discussion in this video Analyzing a walk, part of Character Animation: Maya.
In this chapter we're going to animate a simple walk cycle. Now before we actually get into animating this walk, let's go ahead and analyze a simple walk and show you what makes a character walk, what makes a successful walk. So I have this file open here and if we want, we can simply play it and you can see it's just a very generic walk. So let's go over to our Perspective view and I'm going to actually show you a few things. Now let's take a look at what a walk is. Well the walk starts-- it depends on what frame you want to start with, but typically how a walk happens is a character shifts his weight from foot to foot. So he puts his weight on his left foot, then shifts his weight to his right foot, and each time he does that, he pulls himself forward.
So he drops his foot down, pulls himself forward, and so on. Now in doing this a number of anatomical things have to happen. Well, first of all, when he puts his foot out here, he has to put it in front of the body, which means that the hips have to rotate to meet that. So let's take a look at this, so this hip is actually forward and the other hip is actually back. But in order to maintain his balance, this shoulder has to rotate in the opposite direction.
So this is one of the key things in a walk is that when the left foot is forward, the left shoulder will be back. So let's take a look at that again and let's just watch the shoulders. So what happens is as this foot moves back, the shoulder moves forward. So what we have is a twisting motion of the spine. Now when he moves his foot forward, one of the things he does is he also puts himself out of balance.
So right here, he's actually falling forward just a little bit. So his weight is actually going to fall forward just a little bit and what happens is he's going to catch his weight with this foot. So when we do that what happens is-- let's take a look at this. So when he catches his weight with his foot, he starts with a straight leg and now that will need bends because what we're doing is we're shifting weight.
We're shifting weight from this foot, the left foot, to the right foot, and the same thing happens on the other side. So he puts his foot down, puts his weight on the foot which causes the knee to bend, and then he straightens that up as he lift himself up, allows that foot to come through, catches the ground, cushions, extends, and then takes another step. Now if we want, we can actually take a look at this a couple of other ways.
So I've got all of these geometries on layers, so I'm going to go ahead and turn off the upper body. So we can see how the legs move. So if you just see this, you can see how the hips are rotating left and right. So as this character moves forward, these hips rotate this way and then when he steps the other way the hips rotate in the opposite direction, in that direction.
So let's go ahead and turn on the rest of the body. Now another thing you want to take a look at is there's also a forward and back motion of the spine, so as he catches his weight here, the spine is going to arch forward just a little bit. What that does is because he's catching his weight on that foot, so as soon as he catches the weight on the foot, the body kind of leans forward, then it straightens up, then it catches again, and then it leans forward again.
Now one more thing I want to show you is the walk from the front. Let's take a look at how the spine works. So when he puts his weight on one foot here, we've got all of the weight of the character coming down onto that foot. And what this does is this creates a large weight on this side here which rotates the spine here, because we've got this giant weight, which is basically of character's foot, pulling this down.
And so in order to compensate for this, the spine has to arch from the front this way, okay. So that is in the middle of the walk cycle, which we call the passing position, where the foot passes the opposite leg. So when he does that we're going to have a little bit of a spine twist that way. So those are some of the basics of a walk, just some general guidelines, and we'll be going over these again as we animate the walk.
So I just wanted to show you a few key pointers to a walk, how the hips, the spine, and the shoulders move to make a character walk successfully.
Prerequisite courses: Maya 2011 Essential Training.
- Using screen-drawing tools for Windows and Mac
- Quickly posing characters with custom MEL scripts and layers
- Understanding forces and their role in creating lifelike animation
- Sequencing and timing pose-to-pose animation
- Fine-tuning transitions
- Animating a character's gait and run
- Crafting realistic facial expressions
- Syncing speech to animated dialogue