Walk Cycle In Computer Animation

Walk Cycle

So you want to learn some of the tips and techniques about walk cycle in Animation.

For most of the new animator have a fear of animating walk cycle. Here is the perfect tutorial where you will get to learn most of the important aspect to make the walk cycle process easier to understand to become a confident animator without any fear for animating any character in walk cycle animation.

The process of walk cycle in the animation field can be broken down into a  series of steps which can help in simplifying complex walk cycle process by just following the steps which are described in the Virtual School Desk Walk Cycle Animation process.

The steps in which the walk cycle process is been broken down are described below where the walk cycle is so simplified that the animator would enjoy the walk cycle animation process so much that the technique that is been described in this blog ultimately will be liked the most by all the animators who are trying to learn the process of walk cycle. The walk cycle steps which would be described in this blog article for the virtual school desk walk cycle tutorial are mentioned below.

  1. Contact Pose
  2. Down Pose
  3. Passing Pose
  4. High Pose
  5. Final Contact Pose

The above-mentioned steps which help in simplifying the walk cycle process are elaborated in this tutorial so as to give a clear description of the walk cycle process.  


  • CONTACT POSE : –  The first step to start the walk cycle process is by drawing the “contact pose”. This contact pose is when the heel of the leading leg is just striking the ground and the toe of the trailing leg is bearing most of the body’s weight. During this process, the torso twists a bit so that one soldier is to be made a little further forward than the other.
  • PASSING POSE : – The next step in the walking cycle process is to draw the passing pose. This is when the arms and the legs pass each other as they move. In this process the arms are close to the body, the forward leg is straightened bearing all the body weight while the rear leg is bent in the moving forward direction. Note that the torso should not be twisted at this point.
  • FINAL CONTACT POSE : – This is posed exactly the same way as the first contact pose. Note the only main difference in this pose is that it is exactly the opposite of the first contact pose which is drawn.
  • DOWN POSE : – This is the in-between pose which is drawn. This is the down pose which comes between the first contact pose and the passing pose. In this, the leading leg takes the full weight of the body and the foot is placed flat on the floor. This is the lowest point of head movement arc.
  • THE HIGH POSE : –   This pose come in-between the passing pose and final contact pose. This pose is drawn by stretching the trailing leg upwards and the leading leg moving forward, with the knee raised. This pose is the highest point of the head movement arc.


The above-mentioned poses are the five poses which are the most important to animate a walk cycle.

In the complete walk cycle the most important poses are first and the final contact positions which are the basics to start with the Walk Cycle process.

In this complete process of animating the walk cycle, it is to be considered that when the right foot is forward, the right arm is in the back and when the left foot is forward the left arm is back. This is called the counter pose which is indeed to keep the body balanced.

The most important aspect in any animation which is created is its timing. In the walk cycle the average walk that is the two full steps can be timed to 1 second and if on a 24 frames per second, the first contact is on number 1, the second on number 13, and you work back into the first contact pose on number 25. The process could be varied according to the frame rates. for example for a 30 fps contact poses would be on

Number 1,

Number 16,

Number 31, etc

Here is a diagrammatic representation of the complete walk cycle with all poses:

head position walk cycle

The five above-mentioned poses and some couple of in-between poses complete the walk cycle while drawing the poses always keep in mind the torso is most important part as it contributes in overall balancing of the complete body and the weight of the body to give the animation a real feel. In the walk cycle process, the torso twists are considered and also it should be noted that there is a head movement as well. Head in its lowermost position at the down pose of the walk cycle and head at the highest position at the High pose in the walk cycle.

During the complete walk cycle while drawing the poses that is all the five poses, the first contact pose, down pose, passing pose, high pose, and final contact pose it is to be kept in mind that the legs are at its extreme position in the cycle which is very important while drawing for the animation of walk cycle.

Being myself an animator I have seen that most of the animator think that down pose and the high pose are the only important poses in the complete walk cycle which I felt is not true. In the process of animating of the walk cycle, the five poses are very important and should be drawn very carefully, when preparing the drawing of all five poses for the complete walk cycle but to be very specific that first and the final contact poses are actually the most important poses of the complete walk cycle process.

The first and the final contact poses are said to the most important because they are the initial and the end stage of the complete animation throughout the process of the walk cycle. If the initial or the first frame of the animation process is wrong the complete walk cycle will be eventually will be drawn and animated wrongly. Same is for the final or the end position of the walk cycle the pose of the animating character should be correct at the end frame of the walk cycle process so as to complete the walk cycle process while animating the end pose that is the final contact pose should be perfectly drawn to complete the animation of a walking character in a perfect manner.

This article about the walk cycle of an animated character is the basic stepwise process of how you can achieve a perfect walk cycle for the character which is to be animated. The diagram drawn in this tutorial will be helpful for all the animators to draw the perfect poses to complete the walk cycle process.
The walk of the character also varies according to the body shape and the character behavior in the particular scene, for example, the walk of a female character will vary from the walk of a male character. Similarly, a character who is walking in an angry manner will have a different walking style from the one who is in a happy or in a sad mood. The steps of a run cycle are also similar but are animated differently, a heavy man walk would be animated differently from a walk of a thin man.  A dwarf character walk would be different from a normal weighted and with a normal height character. Similarly, for a sneak walk, the pose will be drawn differently and again for a very fast running character the poses will be drawn differently. So in the world of animation, every small change in the character’s behavior, body structure, and weight is to be considered and studied very precisely so as to avoid any mistake while creating a perfect animation. Every move, every facial expression contributes to the animation process to get the perfect real looking, with a real feel of a character which is to be animated. Virtual School Desk blog is here to guide all the animators who want to learn the different process of animation.

Always remember while animating a walk cycle the type of walk you want for example if your walk cycle is to look natural and smooth your drawing should also be also very smoothly and naturally drawn keeping in mind the type of walk you are going to animate. To start with the basic walk cycle always start with a simple cartoon character drawing. Once you get comfortable with the basic cartoon character then you can consider animating a complex or an animated figure to animate for a walk cycle.

To start with the basic walk cycle always start with a simple cartoon character drawing. Once you get comfortable with the basic cartoon character then you can consider animating a complex or an anatomical figure to animate for a walk cycle process.

That’s all for now, see you in our next article.                 

Post Author: Deepali Sharma

17 thoughts on “Walk Cycle In Computer Animation


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