Animation for beginners how to animate a running character

In this tutorial we will animate a cycle of a running character. In this case the character seems to run in place. If this walk cycle were to be integrated into a movie, there would possibly be a background scrolling from right to left behind the character. Walks and descents are somewhat challenging, but also very animating!

1. Animate the character

Step 1

Start drawing our floor guidelines. As with a walking cycle, I like to draw a guideline for each foot when animating so that the steps are consistent.

A run is similar to animating a running cycle. When a character walks, the character’s head is usually highest in the passing position of the legs. Then the character "catches" himself with one leg, and the next leg goes into the overtaking position.

When a character runs, both feet leave the ground, whereas in a run cycle, one foot always touches the ground.

Step 2

In our first drawing I like to start with the foot contact position, first with the heel.

I like to work rough and sketchy. It’s good to get the animation and posing before we add the arms. Let’s worry about the right stance and then worry about the arms. In this tutorial I will be "straight ahead animate instead of doing poses and intermediate steps.

Step 3

Plant this foot! In drawing 2, the foot further away from us has full contact with the ground. The closer leg (his right leg) then comes forward. Notice how the right leg overlaps the left leg as it comes forward.

Step 4

Let’s do our drawing 3. As we animate a cycle and the character walks in place, the left bottom planted on the ground slides back as the leg comes closer to us.

Step 5

In drawing 4 the foot comes forward.

In this slide, I’ve overlapped our first four drawings so you can see how our last drawing is placed next to the other drawings. Our fourth drawing is black; notice how the foot that is maintained on the ground slides back. This creates the illusion that the character is walking in place. In a movie or video, a scrolling background might be added.

Step 6

In drawing 5 we have take off! Both feet are off the ground!

Note that the character in drawing 5 is higher than in drawing 6.

Animation for beginners How to animate a running character

Step 7

In drawing 6 the character is still in the air. The character now begins the inevitable descent to the ground.

Animation for beginners How to animate a running character

Step 8

In drawing 7, the character’s foot touches the ground heel first. Now we repeat the same action we just animated, but on the left leg of the figure.

Step 9

Then this foot gets planted nice and steady on the floor. Make each drawing look balanced, or the character will look like it’s falling over! We do not want this!

Step 10

As with the character’s right leg, in Figure 9, the leg we removed now moves forward and passes the other leg. Work rough! Don’t be afraid to draw through the character to determine how the back leg is anchored to the body.

Step 11

Lift off! In drawing 10 the leg pushes away and the character is higher. We repeat the action we took for the right leg.

Animation for beginners How to animate a running character

Step 12

As before, the feet of the figure in drawing 11 leave the ground.

Animation for beginners How to animate a running character

Step 13

Still on the ground move the character forward / down a bit for drawing 12. And since this is a cycle, when we play back this animation, drawing 12 is connected to drawing 1! Well done!

You have worked hard! Let’s take a look at our animation. Well done!!

I highlighted the leg closer to us in red so you can clearly see the legs in relation to each other.

2. Animate the arms!!

When animating a walk, the right arm usually swings forward as the left leg moves forward, and then as the right leg comes forward, the left arm swings forward with the leg.

Step 1

Let’s work on adding our arms. Remember, the leg further away from us is facing forward and the arm closer to us is facing forward. The leg that is closer to us is back and the arm that is farther away reflects his action and also his back.

Don’t worry about the details looking perfectly sketched and rough before you worry about details. My arms are basically skeleton sticks. Sketching is the way!

Add arms to drawing 1

Step 2

When the right leg crosses the other leg, the arms are essentially in the middle when they cross over.

Add arms to the drawing 2

Step 3

Let the arms pump!

The left arm starts to come forward as the right leg comes forward, and the arm gets closer to us as it moves back along with the back leg as it slides back.

Add 3 arms to the drawing

Step 4

Go on! Work hard and notice how the arm that is used closer is further back to match the movement of the left leg?

Add 4 arms to the drawing

Step 5

Go ahead! You do a great job!

Add 5 arms to the drawing

Step 6

Finish the arms.

Add arms to the drawing 6

Add 7 arms to the drawing

Add arms to drawing 8

Add 9 arms to the drawing

Add 10 arms to the drawing

Add 11 arms to the drawing

Add 12 arms to the drawing

That looks good! Let’s see how our walking animation looks with our new arms!

3. Clean up and sweeten

Now that we’re taking our action, we can clean up our line with a dark line. Make it look really cute. Add details In our case, I’m showing an eye, but I’m not making it very detailed – just enough to make it convincing.

Step 1

Clean up drawing 1

Step 2

Keep going – it looks great! I use a medium brush tip to color my character. The line doesn’t have to be perfect – in fact, the more imperfect, the more your particular style will show through. Some studios work with a flawless ink line. In this case we have fun and work loose.

Clean up drawing 2

Step 3

When the character pushes one leg up during the run, I took the liberty of giving his head a bit of a "bob" add by lowering the eye to his head. This gives the head a "pan -Effect as his head swings down on his neck.

Clean up drawing 3

Step 4

I lowered his eye even more to create the "bob" -Finish effect.

Clean up drawing 4

Step 5

You are almost done! Finish cleaning all frames.

Clean up drawing 5

Clean up drawing 6

Clean up picture 7

Clean up drawing 8

Clean up drawing 9

Clean up the drawing no. 10

Clean up drawing # 11

Clean up drawing # 12

Great job, you’re done now!

In just a few steps, you’ve created an animated run you can be proud of! You can try experimenting with different character types in your particular style! Work hard, sketch your character and just have fun! Continue animating!

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