Walks Runs

Maya: Animation


As we are all grown ups we can use this for good reference… 😉



Walks and Runs
Unlocking Morpheus
FCurve Tips



1. Lecture on Splines
2. Lecture on Gimbal Rotation
3. Prac Work Continuing from Assessment 2



(right click download)
Morpheus Unlocked Rig

(right click download)
Morpheus 8 Pose Walk Cycle



Update your rig by replacing rig file, today we’ll use the replace reference feature rather than renaming our rig… just for something different.

1. Download and put the morpheusRig_silkyUnlocked.mb file in your projects rig folder.
2. Open your current dialog scene.
3. Go to the reference editor
4. Go Replace Reference and select the new



The Morpheus Rig by Josh Burton is called “Morph”-eus because he can morph into other characters. Have a play around with him. There’s lots of video files on Josh’s site here

This video is the video on customising your own Morphy…

Simply update the latest rig file which you can find here. You will loose animation on the eye lids as they are now on a different controller. We’ll also need to setup new select set buttons for selecting all the animation controls.

(right click download)

Morpheus Unlocked Rig

Please note this version is still not the orignal morpheus from Josh’s site as I’ve tweaked the shaders to make them a little more useable for us.



Walk cycles are a basic skill for an animator, but that doesn’t make them easy. Walks are trickier than runs, the more subtle the harder. Walks are slow so they can be a little tricky.

Also complicating things is that parts of the body don’t perfectly mirror, instead they overlap. Subtle weight shifts also make them hard. But once you get your head around them they can be pretty fun.

A great walk can say so much about a characters personality.


Basic Walk Breakdown

There’s loads of ways we can animate walks. You could just start with the hips moving up and down then layer the feet/arms/head later.

Perhaps the simplest method is to use the 4 pose breakdown as seen Richard Williams book the Animators Survival Kit. It’s a great resource for walks (a great ipad version now available).

With this method we can key the whole pose and then fill in and tweak the curves later.

The Animator’s Survival Kit goes into a lot of detail on walks. And goes into a lot of different walk types.

Richard William’s 4 Pose Half Basic Walk Breakdown

Here’s the same cycle this time with the 8 poses from idleworm.com.

Idleworm 8 Pose Breakdown


Realistic Walks

In reality walks are more subtle. These days there’s loads of good online reference around, better yet watch people walk on the street in real life, around the room etc. Video tape yourself or friends to study walks runs etc.






Cartoony Walks

Cartoony walks can add great character effectively, and there’s a million different styles. These taken from a quick search on youtube.








Mixing Into Your Animation

Walk cycles with character can add a lot to animation, like at the end of this piece…


Technicalities of Walks in 3d Animation

Walk cycles look repetitive and are easily spotted. But it’s very difficult for an animator to hand key every step on a long shot. For this reason walks over long distances are usually animated in a cycle or through a number of cycles with the animator then breaking the cycle up, either by mixing cycles together slowing them down or adding tweaks.

The opening shots of this Polar Bear short film animated at Animal Logic were very difficult to animate. Four legs per bear, long shots, visible foot contacts, 5 or more characters plus limited deadlines and plenty of client tweaking did not make the animators happy!

The animators used libraries of cycle animations mixed with straight ahead keyframe, stop and starts in the characters. Combo of Plotted and on the spot cycles.

Shorter movements are more often just keyed straight ahead with little to no cycles such as in this Fighting Robots clip.

Feet Sliding
Do we move the whole character or move the feet and hips? Most rigs will have a MoveAll control. Animators can animate the cycle on the spot and then translate the MoveAll control around which will move the character with it. The downside is that it’s difficult to lock feet down and stop them from sliding.

Solutions to this are to get the animation as close as possible and then bake the hips and feet controllers into world space. Leaving the MoveAll control behind. The hips and feet then will have a motion capture like keyframe on everyframe. Feet can be locked manually. Step by step. It’s not a nice process but it’s sometimes what has to be done.

At other times animators may choose to have walk cycles walking in a direction away from the MoveAll control. This is great in situations where a character may be walking in a straight line. But problems arise as soon as the character needs to turn a corner.

There’s been all sort of technical innovations to solving this problem. But unfortunately whilst these solutions often look good on paper they’re harder in practice. Often the old school ways serve their purpose.

Here’s a great demo of taking an on the spot cycle and having it move around the world and baking the feet hips into world space using a handy free mel script.

Animating Overlap
Being able to animate overlap (secondary motion) is a pretty good skill to have as an animator. It helps keep your animation from looking stiff and lifeless. Lets have a look at a very simple example of animating overlap. You might be able to use overlap on walks.

Animating A Walk Cycle
Best plan of attack is to start with the 8 pose cycle, remember that the poses mirror each other. Keep the animation simple and in the 8 poses before breaking apart the curves. Keeping things simple for as long as possible will help you at first. Group all the keys on the same poses.

The more subtle the walk, the harder it’ll be to animate.

1. Collect ref of the walk you want.
2. Start with the opposite contacts. Then fill in the pass pose, and up and down last. You may even prefer to be in stepped keys at first.
3. Be sure to make sure opposite feet are travelling in the same space. You can do this by clicking on the opposite poses checking positions and orientations and often you can numerically copy positions in the curve editor.
4. Tweak the poses to get something good. Then spline your curves.
5. Select all the curves and cycle infinity for pre and post. View infinity in the graph editor to see how the cycle is progressing.
6. Tweak the tangents of the curves especially check the end and start of the cycle match and that the tangents run into each other. Also check that the feet are moving in a linar speed if animating will the character is still.
7. Add weight shifts, check counterposture and forward back side to ide motion to account for weight and twisting.
8. Animate the MoveAll control to see how he looks walking through a scene, the feet shouldn’t be sliding much if the tangents are moving at a fairly linear speed.
9. Finally tweak and break up your animation curves, add extra frames and offset where necessary. Add snappier transition and exaggerate. Polish polish polish.




Walks Cycles on the 11 second club



Changing the Frame Rate (FPS)
Window > Settings/Preferences > Preferences > Settings > Time > PAL (25fps) or other

Animation Settings for things like fcurve defaults
Window > Settings/Preferences > Preferences > Animation

Making the Timeline Bigger For Visualising Audio

Setting Keys
Set key for translate = shift w
Set Key for Rotation = shift e
Set Key for Scale = shift r
Set key for all = s
Set Key for one attribute = (right click on attribute name in the channel box) right click set key

Using the Channel Box as a slider
Click on the attribute name in the channel box.
– middle click drag in the 3d window.
– shift makes it go faste
– ctrl makes it go slower

Moving Keys in the Time Slider
To select in the time slider.
– Hold down shift and click on the key
– Hold down shift and click drag over many keys
To move
Click in the middle of the red area and drag
To Scale
Click on the tiny arrows at each end of the red selection, drag out to scale.

Setting the Default Curve Tangent to Auto Tangent Type
1. Return your default hotkeys to be Automatic in the preferences window.
Window > Settings/Preferences > Preferences
Animation > Default Tangent > Auto (for default in and out)

Returning to Stepped Keys
This is not compatible with the Morpheus Rig
– Right click > stepped mode in the timeline (to return to stepped keys)
Right click in the timeline > Enable Stepped Key Preview

How to show the Time Slider and Range Slider
If you loose the Time Slider or Range Slider
– Right click on the dotted grey area next to any toolbar. Click on
– Time Slider or Range Slider



Framing Curves

Time Snap
Make sure time snap is on (magnet icon with ticks below)

Navigating the Graph Editor
In the graph editor you navigate like other 3d windows.
pan = hold alt, middle click drag
zoom = hold alt, right click drag
To zoom on one axis = hold alt and shift then right click drag (in the desired direction)

Move Keys in the Graph editor
Select the move tool = w
Move = middle click drag

Move Keys on One Axis
Select the move tool = w
Move = hold shift and middle click drag in a direction

Numerical Move
Select the time number input area at the top of the graph editor and type your new value.

Numerical Offset Move
Select the time number input area at the top of the graph editor.
Make sure you highlight the number for either time or value. Type the following:

To Add 10: +=10
To Subtract 10: -=10

Scale keys
Select the move tool = r
Scale = middle click drag

Scale Keys on One Axis
Select the scale tool = r
Scale = hold shift and middle click drag in a direction

Numerical Scale
graph editor > edit > scale (option box)

To Snap Keys
graph editor > Edit > Snap
click the time snap icon (a magnet) or value snap icon (a magnet)
and move the keys a little, they will snap into place.

Tangent Types
There’s a few tangent types in Maya the main ones are:
– Auto (Automatically tries to be smart about what your tangents should do)
– Spline (tangent point or average the next and previous keys)
– Linear (straight lines)
– Flat (flattens all the tangents)
– Stepped (for animatic and storyboard like animation, or on/off animation)

Scrub Mode
hold the “k” key and left click and drag

Scrub Mode without moving the pose
hold the “k” key and middle click and drag

Changing the Default Copy And Paste Options
It’s highly recommended to change the paste options to “merge”

1. go to the graph editor > edit > paste (options)
2. Paste Key Options > Edit > Reset Settings
3. Click on the “Help Images”
4. Paste Method: Click on Merge
Copy = “apple c” on PC it’s “ctrl c”
Paste = “apple v” on PC it’s “ctrl v”

Changing the Set Key Options
By default the “s” key is set to Key All, a better setup is to have it key the channel box’s “selected attribute” and have shift+S key all instead.

1. Animate > Set Keys (option)
2. In the window go Edit > Reset Defaults
3. Click “All Keyable Attributes”
4. In the bottom section “from channel box”

Now we want to set a hotkey for shift s

1. Windows > Settings Preferences > Hotkey Editor
2. In the Categories tab scroll down to User, this is where we can make custom hotkeys
3. Click “New” on the right hand side
4. copy the following mel into the command section…
5. Call the shortcut a name like Anim_SetKeyframeAll
6. Hit Accept to confirm the command
7. Assign that command to the hotkey “shift s”

How to Cycle a Curve
Easiest way to cycle a curve is in the fcurve editor with the icon with a curve and either a left or right arrow above. Hitting these will cycle pre or post infinity, they will also automatically switch the infinity on.

To switch off cycles
1. select the curve/s
2. FCurve editor > Pre Infinity > Constant
2. and FCurve editor > post Infinity > Constant

Toggle Infinity On/Off
1. FCurve editor > View > Infinity

Other Cycle types
Cycle will Offset = like a stair case
Linear = keeps the curve going in it’s current trajectory
Oscillate = cycles back n forth

Non destructive Inserting Keys
If we set a keyframe with any of our usual hotkeys they’re prone to slightly alter the curves. The insert key function in the graph editor is the non destructive way to add a keyframe whislt keeping our curves exactly the same.

FCurve Editor > Keys > Insert Key

or the 2nd icon from the left with the key and a + sign.

Add Keys Tool
Another nice way of adding keys is with the add keys tool

FCurve Editor > Keys > Add Key Tool

This allows us to click and drag new keys out in the graph editor

Using the Lattice
The lattice tool lets us modify curves on mass and can be handy for baked keys and motion capture.

Rippling Keys

Region Tool

Buffering Curves

Non Weighted Tangents Vs Weighted Tangents

Full Control Over Tangents
Breaking or making big or small

Breakdown Keys

Curve Isolate Curves

Selecting in the Channel Box to find curves

Changing the Set Key Options

How to Cycle a Curve

Different Types of Cycles

Showing Infinity

Inserting/Adding Keys

Using the Lattice

Rippling Keys

Region Tool

Framing Curves

Buffer Curves

Non Weighted Tangents Vs Weighted Tangents

Tangents changing breaking making big or small

Breakdown Keys

Curve Isolate Curves

Selecting in the Channel Box to find curves

Making the Timeline Bigger


Andrew Silke

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