Here’s a quick behind-the-scenes look at my process for animating the walk cycle of my Valentine’s Day “Manbunny Vibing” post. Walk cycles are a great way to hone your character animation skills, and it’s something that I hadn’t done in a while and I felt I was getting rusty. So I decided to level-up the only way I know how – by doing the dang thing.
Roughing in the main body volumes.
First I animated the main body volumes in Photoshop, which is shown in the gif below. This was important to get the feet and body/head working together and reacting to the impact of the step. The muzzle/face of the character started out looking like a bear/dog, which is just the default that I tend to draw. The key for this was just to get the movement down – I knew I was going to have to go back and revise it to give it the manbunny face I wanted.
Adding the secondary movements to the walk cycle.
Next I went through and animated the secondary movement of the walk cycle. I roughed out both arms (in orange and purple), and the ear facing the camera (in green). This is where I got to play with follow through, some squash/stretch, and overlapping action. While the arms are fairly staid, I had more fun pushing the secondary movements of the ears and the flower bouquet.
Cleaning up the animation and adding the details.
I then did a final pass where I added in some finishing touches: the clothes, the bunny face, and the manbun (crucial, of course). I also did a quick pass to clean up some of the line-work, but I didn’t tie it down too tight because I like some of the roughness to come through. Using a pencil brush preset in Photoshop also helps in this regard because the line will always have some texture to it.
And lastly, I brought the finished walk cycle into After Effects. I added some color to give a Valentine’s Day vibe, and added the Phi Unit track I was going to use. I also stepped up the frame-rate – originally the walk was animated on 3’s but I brought that up to 2’s, and now it looks like he’s really moving!
And voila! It was a great little exercise. There are some things I might do differently next time, but overall, I’m happy with the outcome, especially since it helped me oil a rusty skill. Here’s a link to the final Vine.