3D Character Walk Cycle Animation with Maya for Beginners

An effective 3d walk cycle animation sequence for beginners (using The Bean Sprout F3R3 Method)
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Instructed by Nash Lin Design / 3D & Animation
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  • Lectures 45
  • Length 5.5 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 6/2015 English

Course Description

The difficulty in creating a realistic 3d walk cycle animation is juggling with human mechanics and the principles of animation at the same time. This can be challenging especially for beginners who are learning animation and new to the software Maya.

Fortunately, with the right approach, 3d walk cycle animation can be done effectively with realistic result in just 3 hours.

These are the main key points we want to include in our walk cycle animation:

1. Character walks naturally without any jerks

2. Good demonstration of forces and overlapping actions

3. Input of impactful details such as balancing, natural looking hands, visually appealing toe movement, subtle head motion and more.

The challenge that beginners face is juggling all these aspects at the same time. Using Bean Sprout F3R3 method, the entire walk cycle animation can be broken down into bite sizes which prevents beginners from being confused.

This course will guide you through step by step in achieving a realistic 3d walk cycle animation with Maya.

What are the requirements?

  • You should have Maya installed in your PC.
  • If you need a copy of Maya, you can sign up as a student at autodesk educational website. Educational version allows students to use Maya free for 3 years

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Learn To Install And Animate With Norman Rig in Maya
  • Animate a Walk Cycle Animation With a 3D Character With Proper Sequence
  • Learn to Apply 6/12 Principles of Animation: Pose to Pose, Timing, Easing In and Out, Overlapping Action, Exaggeration, Appeal

Who is the target audience?

  • This class is for beginners 3d animators who is are learning character animation.
  • If you had done some basic bouncing ball and overlapping exercises in Maya, this walk cycle class will be just right for you to level up your animation skill.
  • Or if you are a student currently learning animation but experiencing difficulty in churning out a realistic walk cycle, this class will assist you in your practice.
  • If you are not familiar with Maya's basic interface and have not tried animating with Maya at all, this class will guide you from scratch!

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Introduction: Basic Maya Keyboard & Mouse Controls

It is important to learn how to position your hand and control your mouse for Maya. This helps you to be efficient in your animation process and press keys that are frequently used.


Navigating in the 3D space is the most crucial start to learning 3D software. A 3D artist must be well orientated in the 3D space because he will be manipulating the objects in the 3D dimension.

This unit will guide new users how to pan, orbit and zoom in the 3D space.


Maya is a complex 3D software and there are many commands to assist us in creating 3D animation efficiently.

These commands are usually hard to locate, thus we need to know how to easily access to these commands.

Maya Basic Controls
5 questions
Section 2: Animation Exercise 1: Bouncing Ball Animation

Before creating animation, we need to learn how to set up and prepare our Maya file so that we can animate with the correct settings.

This module guides you how to use the Maya workspace and how to set up your scene for animation.


First step to create animation using animation software is to learn to create key frames. Animation softwares helps animator to generate motion by interpolating keyframes.

This is also the principle of animation: Pose to Pose.


Realistic motions are governed by the law of physics. By applying the principle of animation: ease in and ease out, we can mimic how objects move in the real world with changing speed.

Take a driving car for example, when a car is at red light, it's speed is at 0 miles/hour. When the traffic light turns green, the car will slowly pick up speed and reaches 60 miles/hour. This transition of picking up from slow speed to fast speed is called acceleration, i.e. easing out.

And when the car is driving and a red light is ahead, the car will decrease its speed from 60 miles/hour to a stop. This transition of losing speed from fast to slow is called deceleration, i.e. easing in.


Motions are depicted by its duration, i.e. Timing. This principle of animation allows animator to create either a fast or slow motion by the object.

For example, a bowling ball will drop within 1-2 seconds of duration because it moves very fast. Compared to a balloon dropping, the balloon may take 10 seconds or more to drop because it is light.


A better way for animators to understand the speed of an object is through a graph. Using graph editor, animators can analyse and edit the graph using 'handle' to create an accurate motion of the object.


It is important to preview our animation so that we can see how it will looks like.

Watching the animation in the software compared to a real video can be different. That is because sometimes due to lack of resources from our computers, the animation speed may slow down when we watch it in the software itself.

Thus, it is always a good practice to export the animation out as a video so that the playback speed of the animation will be "what you see is what you get".


Bouncing ball moving up and down will look unrealistic because it only moves in one axis. We can make the animation more interesting by having the ball move horizontally as well.


Lastly, to make the bouncing ball realistic, we can add in rotation of the ball. Due to friction of the floor, the ball will tend to rotate. By adding in rotation, we can conclude this bouncing ball animation.

Section 3: Animation Exercise 2: Overlapping Animation

Overlapping Action is one of the 12 principles of animation. This principle creates realistic movement of a joint object, such as human's arms and legs.

A good overlapping actions requires proper application of timing that separates the motion of different joints.


3D animation production consist of various stages. By breaking down the stages of development, we can better understand the entire complex production into bite size.


This video demonstrates the basic modelling tools which creates 3D objects in Maya. The creation of the 3D object will be use for our overlapping exercise.


Rigging the process that allows model to be controlled in such a way that they will move or deform correctly.

This video will demonstrate a basic rigging process of creating parent and child relationship.


In overlapping action, the first step is to create animation with the parent object. This is because parent object sets the crucial motion of the entire joint's animation.


Animation of the child object starts when we have completed the parent object. Animators must not animate the child before the parent is done as the result may not be as desired.

Child object will usually follow behind the motion of the parent object, which then creates the overlapping action.


Child object's animation can be complex. It is industry practice to review and refine the animation until it looks realistic.


3rd segment refers to the last object down the chain of a joint. It follows the motion of the 2nd segment instead of the 1st because its direct parent will be 2nd segment.


Looping the animation will make the motion repeat without having any breaks.

Section 4: Walk Cycle Intro: Preparation and Concept

Hi, I'm Nash Lin. I'm glad to help you learn your walk cycle animation!

In this video, I'll brief you on the outcome of this course, which is a realistic walk cycle.

I'll share with you my effective animation approach to animation which is not limited to walk cycle, but to other character animation in future.

My training videos are meant for you to follow as closely as possible to achieve the same animation result.

Character animation is similar to building a house. It requires good foundation and structure to hold the entire house together. If the foundation is poorly constructed, anything build on top of it will topple sooner or later.

At any point of time you feel the teaching pace is too fast, pause and replay as many times as you wish. This helps you achieve the objective in each video before progressing to the next stage.

I hope you will enjoy your learning with me as much as I enjoyed creating this course for you!

Feel free to ask me any questions in the discussion when you meet any problem.

Let's get things going!


This video shows you how to install a free character rig called Norman Rig. Followed by a demonstration on using the 3d character rig with forward kinematic (FK) and inverse kinematic (IK).

Norman is a Maya puppet built unofficially for the Academy of Art University Pixar classes. Norman Rig is a free rig for animation practice.

Download Norman Rig here:



This video explains the mechanism of a walk cycle. It is important to understand the 4 main key poses of a walk cycle to create a realistic animation.

In 3D animation, we use pose to pose approach because the software will help us generate the in-betweens.

Section 5: Walk Cycle 1: Pelvis And Legs Basic Animation

Walk cycle animation starts off by creating poses for the pelvis. 

Pelvis is the center of gravity (CG) of the human body. Posing the pelvis correctly will create a strong foundation of a walk cycle.


After pelvis, we move on to pose the legs. Again, we will follow the 4 main key pose of a walk cycle. 

Key poses for pelvis and legs will determine the timing and spacing of the walk cycle..


After pelvis, we move on to pose the legs. Again, we will follow the 4 main key pose of a walk cycle. 

Key poses for pelvis and legs will determine the timing and spacing of the walk cycle..

Section 6: Walk Cycle 2: Pelvis and Legs Realistic Animation

Once the pose of the pelvis and the legs are in place, we start to refine the walk cycle. Ease in and ease out creates a sense of force in our animation.

As we are living on Earth, we are affected by gravity force everyday. Having a good sense of force using easing in and out will create a realistic motion.


Knees is one of the challenge when animating legs movement.

Knees tends to create an unwanted 'popping' effect, making the legs motion unnatural.

This video will explain how to over come this issue.


Animation for the legs requires fine details.

More attention is needed at the feet when it lands and lifts off the ground.

Fine details of the feet is created by adding motion to the toes and heel movement.

Section 7: Walk Cycle 3: Upper Torso Animation

Upper torso animation follows up after lower torso is completed.

Upper torso very much follows the timing of the pelvis and the legs.

Again, we start a new animation with poses.


Chest requires slight overlapping action in a walk cycle.

This helps to create a sense of falling forward when a character is walking.

Section 8: Walk Cycle 4 Part 1: Head Animation

Head is last in the chain of the upper torso's overlapping action.

We always look at humans from the head and it is critical to create a natural head movement.

Subtle motion such as nodding is needed.


Up to this stage, we have completed half an oscillation (1/2 step of a walk cycle).

Next, we move on to creating another step by copy and paste some key frames from the first step.

Section 9: Walk Cycle 4 Part 2: Torso Refinement

Normal human walks by shifting their CG left and right.

We can mimic this motion by looking at our character from front view and animate the swinging motion.


When a person walks, he balance his body when swinging his body as well.

Taking a closer look from the top of a walk cycle, we will be able to see that a person's shoulder move in the opposite direction of the pelvis.

This video explains how to observe and animate this motion.

Section 10: Walk Cycle 5: Arm's Animation

Last section of a walk cycle is to animate swinging arms.

Swinging arms requires overlapping action and starts from shoulder movement.

Shoulder animation will set the timing and spacing for the segments down the chain.


Forearm is the child of it's shoulder (parent), thus it will follow it's parent's movement.

Overlapping action of the forearm will require a delay in its timing compared to its parent.


Hand animation creates a soft natural movement for the walk cycle.

As hand is the last chain for the arm's overlapping action, it's off beat timing creates an irregular yet appealing motion.


We started animating the arm on one side.

Now, we will learn to duplicate the motion over to the other side.


Similar to shoulder, we will now duplicate the motion and timing of the forearm from one side to another.


The last hand animation that needs to be duplicated over the other side.

This sums up the entire walk cycle animation.


Swinging of the arm is not entirely moving forward and backward.

A natural moving arm will swing infront, sideway and to the back of the body.

Section 11: Walk Cycle 6: Final Animation Revision and Polishing

Picking up small details is important to all animation.

It is important to learn to observe the movement of an animation and find any irregularities in motion.


We will refine the minor details of a human's movement.

One of which is crucial is the eyes when the character is moving.


Hand's gesture gives many hint to a person's emotion.

For a normal walk cycle, having a relax looking hand will creates a natural looking hand gesture.

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Instructor Biography

Nash Lin, Digital Media Coach

Nash is a multimedia trainer since 2007. He graduated from SAE Institute with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Multimedia, specialises in digital animation after graduation.

Nash loves animation. He creates flip book animation, 2D frame by frame animation and 3D fighting animation. Nash designs concept and draw storyboards for animation videos and interactive applications. Recently he is also involved in creating his own mobile game with Unity.

Nash also has great interest in teaching. He likes to share his efficient way of learning to his student. He believes learning can be fun and enjoyable. This is achieved when his students are able to see immediate result by following his step by step demonstration.

Nash wants to make learning animation affordable. He creates many video tutorials so that his students are able to watch his training and learn at their own pace. Nash's vision is to reach out and benefit more animation enthusiasts with his teaching pedegogy.

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