Animated Walk & Run Cycles

Wikipedia on Walk Cycles: In animation, a walk cycle is a series of frames or illustrations drawn in sequence that loop to create an animation of a walking character. The walk cycle is looped over and over, thus having to avoid animating each step again.

There exist many techniques to create walk cycles. Traditionally walk-cycles are hand drawn but over time with the introduction of new technologies for new mediums, walk cycles can be made in pixel art, 2d computer graphics, 3D computer graphics, stop motion method, cut-out animation or using techniques like rotoscoping.

Walk cycles can be broken up into 4 key frames, namely Forward Contact PointPassing Pose1Back Contact Point and Passing Pose 2. Frames that are drawn between these key poses (traditionally known as in-betweens/Inbetweening) are either hand-drawn or using computer software to interpolate them.



Besides the apparent move of the legs, many more details are necessary for a convincing walk cycle, like animation timing, movement of the arms, head and torsion of the whole body.

tumblr_nbkl6bmr7q1qzyi60o3_500 The walk cycle at the head of this post was made by the great Neil Sanders and is based on a basic walk cycle from Richard William’s book (and iPad App) The Animator’s Survival Kit.

Neil Sanders on his process:

I’ve pulled apart my working process on these Feel Good Guys to use as examples for an extension of the Character Body Language workshop ran with Dani Cresp as part of Homecooked Comics Festival.
I’ll be recording and uploading a tutorial walking through drawing a walk in photoshop and talking through the four poses that make a step, line of action, avoiding tangents and overlapping action.


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Poopdeck Pappy’s Jaunty Walk

In 2009, animator Borge Ring contacted animator Micheal Sporn and asked about a particularly inventive walk cycle animated by Bill Nolan in 1940 for a Popeye cartoon. Sporn then wrote:

Consequently, let me make a post of this brilliant walk. There are many of them in this film and lots of hilarious dances. It’s all so balletic and rhythmic. I urge you to listen to Børge, watch the film again. It’s an absolute beauty; this is my favorite period of Fleischer’s work.

Captured Frames from Michael Sporn:

Walk Cycle by animator Bill Nolan (1940)



Walk Cycle by animator Jeff Liu



Run Cycle by Dana Terrace



Here’s a great walk cycle from multiple angles by Atlier Sento (Cécile Brun & Olivier Pichard):


Here’s a run cycle from the video game Indivisible: