If you don\’t see a panther walking, your browser is not displaying Flash content.

A basic walk cycle for the pink panther. The first frame was given to me to start it off. The reason his arms and tail flash in and out is because I didn’t finish drawing every frame. And if I hadn’t run out of time, I definitely would have attempted a more dramatic, snooty glide.

A walk cycle is created in a certain order. A single step typically takes place over 12 frames. The position where the foot hits the ground for the next step is called the contact position. These are drawn first.

Then, we draw the passing positions. These are where it is possible to put the most character and personality into the walk.

Walking is basically a process of falling and catching yourself, so we also have down and up positions.

After these drawings are established, all that is left is to draw the inbetweens — the rest of the frames that ensure the animation looks smooth. These is where I ran out time and didn’t get to the arms and the tail, and why professional animators at Disney have underlings to do all the inbetween drawings!

If you don\’t see a bouncing ball here, your browser is not displaying Flash content.

I made this ball, and made it bounce across the screen. Hardest part? Balancing the rotation value with the horizontal position at the end of the bounces, so the ball looks like it’s rolling, not sliding. It involved a lot of back and forth, trial and error. The handy thing about animation is that your eye will immediately tell you if something is wrong!

Animation lesson of the day

This screen shot shows all the frames of this animation at once. You will notice:

In animation, the illusion of speed is created with greater spacing.

Things that bounce always slow down when they are approaching the peak, about to descend.

Gravity squashes things upon impact, and an equal and opposite reaction makes them stretch vertically immediately following. The volume of the object never changes, however. Exaggerating the squash and stretch makes things look more ‘cartooney.’

If you don\’t see an animation here, your browser is not displaying Flash content.

This is my very first attempt at animation in Flash. I went for rough and loose, hoping that the expressiveness would make up for these being only stick figures. I was also interested to see if I could suggest sound through movement and color alone. The Flash timeline is organized by frames, so putting my changes at equal intervals is how I kept them all on ‘tempo.’

I had to google walk cycles to figure out how to make my characters convincingly walk onto the stage. The movements of the musicians, however, were super easy for me to figure out from memory. I found it ironic that I know what my arms have to do when I play violin, but apparently not what my legs need to do to walk.

Adobe Flash never made any sense to me in the past, but as I begin to understand the needs and processes of animators (so very different from graphic designers), I start to see why the software works the way it does. I just have to adjust my thinking and my processes too. In this class, we’ll be animating traditional walks, bounces, and character takes, as well as watching documentaries about Disney and video tutorials from animators. It’s going to be a fun glimpse into a new field!