WALKING & RUNNING animation tutorials
by Igor Sinkovec
Graphic is one of the most challenging and enjoyable parts of game creation. What is more fun than seeing your imaginary worlds and characters shaping up in front of your eyes? While good graphic doesn't necessarily mean good game, it certainly adds a big plus to playing experience. However, pretty pictures don't help much, if they are not backed up with solid animation… and that's the part we will cover in our little tutorials.
picture 1
"Richard Bazley, lead artist on Warner Bross's critically acclaimed The Iron Giant, once said, that the biggest challenge for animator represents ability to convince audience, that characters on screen do not move only from point A to point B, but actually "live" their lives."
In order to create good animation of movement, we should give it "personality". There's a whole range of walking styles, but they all depend on character's anatomy (thin-fat), emotions (happy-sad), etc... (you can see an example of this on picture 1).

picture 2 1. Walking
Walking animation cycle (especially the linear one) usually consists of 2 key frames. In our case that means frames, where character touches the ground with both feet. Between this two key frames we can add two additional extremes (phases in which the character reaches the highest point in animation)- see picture 2 .
Now we are ready to add inbetweens. Animation on picture 3 is example of the most basic walk-cycle, constructed out of 10 frames (the minimum for smooth cycle is 8 frames).
If you observe people as they walk, you can notice that not only legs, but the whole body is responding. The most visibly: arms, which are swinging in the opposite direction than legs. Take a look at character's hands on picture 3. In attempt to make animation more fluid, an important animation principle was used there. Secondary action, as this rule is called, is movement caused by previous action. That basically means, hands are moving as a response to arm swinging and so it looks as they are following them all the time.
picture 3
To see walking animation in motion, CLICK on picture...
(You'll need Shockwave Plug-in)
2. Running
The biggest difference between animation of walking and running is, that in certain phases of run non of character's feet touches the ground (picture 4). In a way, we are dealing with separated "jumps". You should be careful there, as too high jumps can annul the illusion of motion… in the other hand, such movement can stress the comical note of the scene.
picture 4
To see running animation in motion, CLICK on picture...
(You'll need Shockwave Plug-in)
The fact that running is faster motion than walking, doesn't necessarily mean, we need to use less frames of animation. There can be up to 24 phases used for a cycle, depending on the effect you would like to achieve. To create a feeling of faster run we can also change inclination of our character (see example on picture 5).
picture 5
As you'll start with animation, keep in mind that every character has it's way of moving. To reproduce the same walk animation over and over again would be boring for you and even more for those that would watch it. So this tutorials should be used only as a starting point for further experimenting.
That's it. Be creative and keep animating!

To be continued…?

Graphics and animations in this tutorials should not be used without author's permission