Here is a practice animation of a basic walk cycle created in Maya. I thought it would be good to learn the fundamentals of a basic walk and to understand the principles of how to create infinite cycling loops.

The first thing I had to do was to determine an appropriate length of time for the cycle. Since this was a walk cycle, I only needed to focus on animating the first two steps so I adjusted my timeline accordingly. Next I selected all the keyable components (which were from a character set I created beforehand) and used the ‘graph editor’ to cycle both ‘pre-infinity’ and ‘post-infinity ‘ curves.

Next beginning with the key poses, I used a linear-stepped ‘pose-to-pose’ method to block out the animation. Since this was a cycle, I had to make sure the first and last frames were identical. Another important thing was to keep the movement mirrored by making sure that the left side was a negative offset of the other (usually the reciprocal). This whole process took a while to get used to but afterwards it was quite simple.

After all the key poses were properly blocked in, I changed methods and went with a plateau-plateau ‘straight-ahead’ approach. During this part, the main principles focused on were: squash & stretch, follow-through/overlapping actions, ease-in/ease-out, arcs, and exaggeration. So after smoothing my curves, I went through each individual component and tried to push these principles as much as possible to finish the animation. What’s nice is that since this was a cycled animation, adjusting the timeline just set the duration of the walk cycle loop (so by animating just two steps I could make the character walk as long as I wanted).

I had a lot of fun through out this exercise and can see how using cycles can be a real time saver.

Check out the gallery for a screenshot of the final render, or scroll down to view the final video:

I only take credit for the animation. All models and rigs were provided courtesy of The 11 Second Club.

Software Utilized: Autodesk Maya, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Audition