Starting the Walk Cycle

Before beginning my walk cycle I did a lot of research in to how other’s have approached walk cycles and what it is that makes a walk cycle good. Starting this I realised just how helpful the Animators Survival Kit would be for this project as it has several pages where Williams goes in to great depth about walk cycles and how timing can affect how the walk comes across to the audience.


In his notes, Williams describes walking as “a series of controlled falls.” We are repeatedly catching ourselves before we lose balance and fall flat on our faces, “we lean forward with our upper bodies and throw out a leg just in time to catch ourselves.”

Williams then goes on to look at the science of walks and how they work in reality. Below is the most true to life walk cycle in The Animators Survival Guide, and can be used as a good first reference for blocking out a standard walk cycle.


He goes on to highlight how important it is to understand a ‘standard’ walk cycle before we look at walks with more personality. He also explains why setting a tempo for your walk is vital; the same poses with different timing will read completely differently to the audience.

Williams explains that setting a beat for your walk is vital. It has a massive impact on how the walk is read by the audience, deciding the mood and adding personality to the character.

4 Frames = a very fast run (6 steps a sec)
6 Frames = A run or very fast walk (4 Steps a second)
8 Frames = slow run or “cartoon” walk (3 steps a second)
12 Frames = Brisk, business like walk. Milt Kahl refers to this as a natural walk (2 steps a second)
16 Frames = strolling walk, more leisurely (2/3 of a second per step)
20 Frames = Elderly or tired person (almost a second per step)
24 Frames = slow step (one step per second)
32 Frames = …”show me the way…. go home…”


Although 12 frames per step is considered a natural walk, it is more difficult to divide than if the walk is animated on 8’s or 16’s and so adding acting and other aspects to the scene becomes more difficult.

I think taking the time to research walk cycles beforehand has really given me a good knowledge base to work from. I have a better sense of the weight distribution and timing within a walk and this will allow me to apply it to my own.


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