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Animating Four-Legged Beasts
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Animating Four-Legged Beasts


May 2, 2012 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4
 

Walks and Runs: In Brief

Walks and runs can be considered a controlled fall with a little acceleration happening right after the passing position, which is similar to a push-off. As with all movement cycles, the forward or Z-translation would be non-linear.

The speed of the walk is dictated by the length of the legs and how far apart the feet are planted in the stride position. There isn't really a moment where all four legs are off the ground, as in the other gaits, and the legs can only move so fast without looking "sped up". Conversely, the speed of gallop is largely determined by the shape and unique qualities of the beast. The faster you need the beast to go, the more flexible the spine will have to be, and the greater the squash and stretch. Look for this when watching reference. As the legs bunch up under the beast (the squash) energy is gathered, preparing for a "leap" or "stretch" where the animal can cover as much ground as its form, weight and strength allow. The tighter the squash, the more extended the stretch and the faster the beast can travel.


Gallop cycle
animated by Paul Capon on Nico

Variety in the weight or "attitude" of the walk, trot, or gallop can be achieved through the shape and movement in the spine and the amount of overlap and follow-through. The amount of flexibility and motion in the spine is key to defining the differences between a horse, a rhino, and a jungle cat.

Personality, the key ingredient in any good animation, comes not only from the shape of the key poses but also from what is happening in between the poses. How the character gets from stride to passing can define the character. Are they high-stepping? Straight forward and no-nonsense? Whimsical? Are they flopping around like a puppy or are they hard and densely muscled like a pit bull? The overlapping elements that you've added to the animation and their follow-through shows the audience who the character is and what it is made of.


Image adapted from Tiger Locomotion Gallop 01, courtesy of www.rhinohouse.com


Image adapted from Horse Locomotion Gallop 05, courtesy of www.rhinohouse.com


Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

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