Alex York's Art & Animation Blog: Character Walks

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Character Walks

After getting down the core elements and principles of animation, we've begun the process of learning character animation itself starting with one of the most simple and mechanical things one can do: walk.

There are just a few basic keys to most any walk: stride, squash, cross-over, step. With these simple keys, one can lay the foundation for a good character walk. With these in mind after a few simple structural tests, we were to take an established character from tv or film animation, break it down to its core structure, and then animate that in a walk. We were to do both a walk cycle and a perspective walk.

Being a great admirer of Japanese animation, and of Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki, in particular, I chose to use two of the Ghibli characters. For the walk cycle, I chose Chihiro, and for the perspective walk, I chose Totoro.

Chihiro walk cycle

I feel mostly good about how these came out. For Chihiro, in between our assignments, I'd like to go back, tighten all of the drawings up to bring her closer to model, and adjust a few things. Looking back at it, her head goes through an extreme low and then high. I'd like to possibly change up the poses to give her a little more hang-time at the bottom of that head arc. Also, a classmate mentioned that her head turn is a little mechanical, almost creepy. I can see where he means that. (He was talking about when her head snaps back toward the camera.) So, essentially, that's going from the beginning to the end of the cycle, so it may just be a matter of fixing the hook-up drawing (final drawing of the walk-cycle) to make that transition smoother and less robotic. Overall, though, I like the smoothness I achieved, and it gave me both confidence and humility to see what's it like to move even a pared down Miyazaki character.

Totoro perspective walk

Totoro's perspective walk was a lot of fun to do after Chihiro's walk. Truth be told, I'm not sure that I really technically got the structure in his legs correct, but from the model sheets I was working with, this seemed a good approximation. He's sort of like a big teddy bear, or like Winnie the Pooh, but with a much larger rib-cage. He's a fat character, but he's also very strong. I may go back and add some drawings to give him some more hangtime/rest on the downs, which will translate into a greater feeling of power and strength in his walk. Also, I think I'll get him to walk off the screen with his mouth open. It'll be fun!

I greatly enjoyed the walks, and I look forward to doing more.

Note: Chihiro and Totoro are characters of Studio Ghibli. I do not own any rights to the characters or their likenesses for reproduction. These projects were done purely for educational, non-commercial purposes, and, thus, have no bearing on the Ghibli market.

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