Walking animation is an important concept for the animators because they must create believable walk cycles at high quality for their characters from video games, movies, commercials, etc. Technically speaking, to create the perfect walking animation is a difficult thing because requires a great attention to the movement of legs and of opposite limbs.
In animation, a walk cycle is a series of frames or illustrations drawn in sequence that loop to create an animation of a walking character. The walk cycle is looped over and over, thus having to avoid animating each step again. (Wikipedia)
For a walking cycle there are four primary poses to review: contact, down, passing and high point that can be animated depending on the character, on its mood: if it is aggressive, playful, sad, etc.
Before learning how to create a walking animation, which we will discuss it in another post, here are some tips you could take into consideration:
1. Rigging step
Creating a natural walk for your character requires first of all a good rig. Make sure that you have all sprites and all bones rigged and that Inverse and Forward Kinematics are working properly. Secondly, make your character’s knees and elbows slightly bent because it will help you a lot during the animation. Lastly, make sure you can easily access the controllers on the elements you need to animate.
2. Video references for walking animation
If you don’t have experience in walking animation, you should study people, observe them, understand their movements and the process of motion. Also, you can film yourself while walking and review the video in slow motion so as to observe all the subtleties of your walking.
3. Study what others do
At first you might not like how your walking animation look, so you can learn to give life to your character from other people. Learn from professionals how to build your character and try to understand how to animate it in your chosen app.
To understand more about walking animation you can read some good books. Find them on the following link: https://www.bloopanimation.com/animation-books/.
4. Make natural movements
To make your walking animation more believable for the viewers it must be closer to reality. For example, you should be able to highlight the differences betwen an overweight person that has slower movements from a skinny one that has quick, sharp and joyful movements. Also, a slower motion can transmit a feeling, that your character is upset, sad, emotional while a quick motion can mean happiness, welfare, joy.
5. Pay attention to balance and rotation
For a perfect walking animation you must pay attention to balance and rotation. When you make each step you have to change your centre of gravity to make sure you will not fall. Look at one person that walks and you will observe that hips play an important role in the process of movement. During the walk both the hip joints and pelvis move and rotate and this balance brings your character to life.
Here are some articles that inspired me. You may take a look over them. They are pretty helpful.