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Walk Cycle Tutorials and Inspiration in After Effects

Caleb Ward

Take a leisurely stroll through this series of awesome walk cycle tutorials for After Effects.

There are very few techniques as fundamental to the art of animation than the walk cycle. Mastering a walk cycle takes time and research. By studying reference film and other animations, you can get walk cycles down in no time.

What is a Walk Cycle?

In a nutshell, a walk cycle is a series of frames in which a character takes two steps (left, right, back to left). A good walk cycle will not only look convincing, it will also give some insight into who the character is.

The following video created by Alan Becker offers a great explanation of what a walk cycle is and how it can be used to tell your story better. Most notably, the tutorial covers the importance of using a four key walk cycle rather than two.

If you like this tutorial, I recommend checking out Alan Becker’s Run Cycles tutorial as well.

Walk Cycle in After Effects Tutorials

1. Walk-Cycles in After Effects

Created By: School of Motion

When it comes to tutorials, there’s really nobody better suited to teach After Effects than Joey Korenman from School of Motion. In this video tutorial created for 30 Days of After Effects, Joey shows us how to create an animated walk cycle using a 2D style of animation.

The tutorial covers literally everything you will need to know to create realistic walk cycles. The video also shows us how to correctly rig a character using null objects and sliders. While it may seem time consuming at first, it will be much easier to move in the future after only a little practice.

2. Character Animation Fundamentals for After Effects

Created By: PremiumBeat

In this video tutorial created for us (PremiumBeat) by Mikey Borup, we take a look at how to create a basic animated walk cycle in After Effects. Unlike the other tutorials in this post, this technique uses the pin tool instead of null objects to animate the character.

3. Keyframing a Walk Cycle in After Effects

Created By: Phil FX

In this tutorial by Phil from Phil FX, we take a look at how to make a more simple walk cycle in After Effects. The tutorial shows us how to separate each element in Photoshop and notes a few resources for timing walk cycles.

4. After Effects Character Rigging + Walk Cycle

Created By: Kyle Griffin

In this tutorial by Kyle Griffin we’ll take a look at how to rig a walk cycle using the free Duik script. The script essentially automatically rigs your character so all you have to do is correctly label your layers.

5. Animate Walk Cycle Head Move

Created By: Lee Daniels Art

This video tutorial by LeeDanielsART focuses on the head movement in a walk cycle. While most video tutorials focus on the leg movements, this tutorial focuses on the momentum of the head in After Effects.

Free Resource for Walk Cycles

Duik is a free tool designed to help animators with rigging in After Effects. The tool is capable of creating Inverse Kinematics which are essential for creating joints. There is also a great auto-rig feature that automatically rigs your character and makes null objects so you can control them. Duik is a must-have for any After Effects user. Just click the link below and you will be directed to the Duik website.


Also, while your mind is on motion graphics, be sure to check out our pals over at RocketStock. They are quickly becoming THE source online for After Effects and Video Editing tutorials and freebies.

Have any tips for creating walk cycles in After Effects? Share in the comments below.