Basic Animation 101: Making Your Character Walk

Basic Animation 101: Making Your Character Walk

Whether in animated films, animated television shows like Japanese anime, the way the character walks, jumps, or talk is driven by amazing graphics and smooth animation which are all conceptualized, designed and brought to life by animators.

In order to master the art of animation, one has to learn the basics first! In this tutorial, you’ll be introduced to the Walking Cycle in animation with the help of our BS Animation student Audrey Defensor.

Let’s start with Step 1! First, do a rough sketch of your character in Adobe Photoshop. This will give you more variety when choosing the character to animate.


Step 2: Look for walking cycle references!

This will help you plot the frames for your character. You may simply Google references or use websites like Pinterest.


Step 3: Open the animation software you’ll use like ToonBoom Harmony.




PRO TIP: You can use other programs such as Adobe Flash.


There are 4 basic poses in the animation walk cycle: Contact, Recoil, Passing, and High Point



Step 4: The first pose in the animation walk cycle is the Contact. Select the first frame and start drawing!




Always start with basic shapes!


Circle: Head


Rectangle: Torso, Arms, Legs




Step 5: Use Onion Skin under the View menu. This will serve as your guide in drawing the next pose: Recoil.



This is where the head is at its lowest point and the hands are farthest apart.


PRO TIP: Make sure that the body is proportional to the character’s movements. Refer to the Contact pose to see if the transition will run smoothly.''




Step 6: The next pose is Passing. This is where the other foot passes the first foot and where the hands are closest together.




Make sure the arms and legs are opposite each other.


Right arm in front = Right leg at the back



Step 7: Now we’re going to work on the High Point pose. This is where the head is highest. This prepares you to transition to the opposite arm and leg.




Step 8: In order to complete a walk cycle you will have to repeat these 4 poses and reverse them in order to have both feet take a step and the other arm to move forward.



PRO TIP: Play your animation repeatedly to see if everything is proportional and the character is moving smoothly. It’s advisable to choose “24 fps” for the speed.



Step 9: Once everything is set, it is time to clean up your drawing! This is where you’ll trace the poses you drew per frame.




PRO TIP: Don’t worry if your drawings aren’t matching up or animating smoothly at first.




You can always adjust the position or redraw the character as you're animating. You can also scrub back and forth to see if the movements match.




That was awesome! Just keep on practicing and don’t forget to have fun!




You can watch the full video tutorial here too:




Pursue your passion for animation by applying for our Animation program for Senior High or College! Send us an e-mail at to learn more about our programs today.



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