Tutorials for Traditional & Digital Cel Walk Cycles

Why Choose This Method?

  • If you love to draw
  • If you want the maximum in expressiveness
  • If you want full control

…then this is the technique for you! Start with drawings!

Technical Options

You have a lot of choices! So I will try to find succinct tutorials for most possibilities. Be sure to utilize the references!

Draw on Paper

  • The “optional traditional technique video” in the main lesson folder is great. Learn from a master!
  • A light table is recommended for tracing frame to frame, but tracing on a sunny window works well too!
  • Check out “Drawing with Jazza’s” blue and red pencil tip in the videos below.

Draw Directly into Adobe Animate

This method is good. It’s fun, but quite different from After Effects and Character Animator. The big advantages are:

  • It has simple drawing tools that create vectors!
  • It has built-in line smoothing
  • It has a pressure-sensitive line if you use a tablet
  • It has onion skinning
  • It has a “bone tool” for kinematics.

Draw Directly into Photoshop

This technique utilizes drawing directly into Photoshop and creating frames from layers or layer groups. The drawings in the demo aren’t very nice, but you’ll get the point…(I hope!)

Another Method in Photoshop

The “blank video” method below also works! The tutorial below also demos the Onion Skin ( great tool). This guy is good, but blathers a bit. To get right to the video layer techniques, start at around 1:46 as I did below.  The second half – his facial animation – is interesting, but not needed for a walk cycle.

Truth be told, I also speed up the replay to 1.5, as he is a slow talker. I can’t bake that in for you. Tongue out

A Third Method in PS

…Using the regular video layers. This tutorial also shows the process of beginning with key poses and then adding the in-betweens. She starts out somewhat flaky but settles in with lots of good info on the whole technique.

Drawing on Paper, or Using Stop Motion

To do either of these techniques will require translating the physical images into digital. This typically means photographing or scanning each image! Scanning is preferred, as it will minimize the issues of registration, uneven lighting, and lack of consistent focus.

Either way, there is typically some cleanup that needs to occur before animating. Unless…

Here are some simple tips to minimize clean up. Spend some time to save some time!

  • Local community colleges and most public libraries have scanners for the community to use! Use them.
  • If you are using your cell phone to photograph your sketches, take the time to set up! Find a surface that you can keep your image and camera completely still and at a 90° angle to each other. A stand and a tripod would be best! Diffused outdoor light is also good, as long as you can work while the light stays consistent.

If you are going to the inking level, you can also save a lot of cleanup with the red or blue pencil method. See Jazza’s video below. (He goes way beyond, but it’s a really good tut!)

Sequencing in After Effects, Photoshop, or Animate?

Once you have a series of clean images, you can choose any of these softwares to sequence them and adjust your timing. You may wish to just stay within Photoshop, or use the others for the options they offer.

How to import a sequence into AE:

From: https://helpx.adobe.com/after-effects/using/preparing-importing-still-images.html

Import a still-image sequence as a composition.

When you import a Photoshop or Illustrator file as a composition, you have access to the individual layers, blending modes, adjustment layers, layer styles, masks, guides, and other features created in Photoshop or Illustrator. The imported composition and a folder containing each of its layers as footage items appear in the Project panel.

    1. Select any file in the sequence. To import a subset of files in a sequence, select the first file, hold down Shift, and then select the last file to import.
    2. Choose “Composition – Retain Layer Sizes”
    3. Click Open (Windows) or Import (Mac OS).

How to import a sequence into Photoshop:

From https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/using/importing-video-files-image-sequences.html

      1. In Photoshop, when you import a folder of sequenced image files, each image becomes a frame in a video layer. Make sure that the image files are in one folder and are named sequentially. (To batch rename them, google how to do that on a Mac or PC.) The folder should contain only those images you want to use as frames. The resulting animation will be more successful if all files have the same pixel dimensions. To order frames correctly for the animation, name the files in alphabetical or numeric order. For example, filename001, filename002, filename003, and so forth.
      2. Do one of the following:
        • To open an image sequence directly, choose File > Open.
        • To import an image sequence into an open document, choose Layer > Video Layers > New Video Layer From File.
      3. In the Open dialog box, navigate to the folder with image sequence files.
      4. Select the first file, choose the Image Sequence option, and then click Open. Note: Selecting more than one file in an image sequence disables the Image Sequence option.
      5. Specify the frame rate, and click OK.

Export to Video

If you wish to export to a video directly from Photoshop, here’s how:

That’s all folks…unless you get confused, or need more info; LET ME KNOW!!