Walk-Run Cycles for Cartoon Animation

Sheila Graber is a well known professional animator whose work is often seen on television. She gives us some tips on getting our characters moving.

These are not meant to be definitive methods of timing two and four legged movement they are just based on sequences that I’ve done in the past which I have found work convincingly on screen. The number of drawings is, on the whole, far less than most manuals on animation usually state: so they are far quicker to work with. Whether you use drawing on paper, cel, cut—outs or models the same timings could be applied.

A. A TWO LEGGED WALK: A cycle of 6 movements: last action hooks back into first. Give each action four frames and (working at 24 frames per second) you have your figure walking two steps in one second. Obviously this is pretty fast: if you want slow the pace then ‘Inbetween actions need to be planned. To speed up simply give each movement 3:2: or 1 frame each for steadily increasing pace.

B. A FOUR LEGGED WALK: A cycle of 6 movements in which similar ‘rules’ apply. In practice each leg is simply turning in its own little circle in sequence. Combine this with a continually panning background and the centred animal can keep on walking for ever: just like FELIX.

C. A TWO LEGGED RUN: A cycle of four movements.


The back is hollow as legs extend and arches as legs move inwards.

Sheila draws while one of her cats looks on. Sheila says: “The cats act as models, but not yet (alas) as tracers and painters. Though I am working on it.”

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