YEAR2-Industrial exercises 2 TUTORIAL

                                                  Quadrupedal walk cycle tutorial
Hello everyone and welcome to my tutorial, throughout this tutorial we will be looking at how to create a walk cycle for a quadrupedal animal, this tutorial will be shown with annotations images and videos and we will be working with the “Nico” rig, when the tutorial is complete you should have a fully functional walk cycle like the one shown below:

Getting started:

Downloading the rig- to download the “Nico” rig click HERE or alternatively go to the creative crash website:
Setting your project:
Setting your project is a basic task that all animators should get used to, but its incredibly vital which is why I am still including it in my tutorial.

First open up “Autodesk Maya” and wait for it to load up
then go to “File>Project>New” as shown below

Selecting this should bring up a box, in this box you can change the project name, im going to call it “quadrapedal_walk_cycle” but you can call it whatever is easiest for you NOTE:its never a good idea to use capitals or space bars when it comes to saving your work in maya as it may cause complications when Maya is trying to open up or use a file, after you've done that select use defaults and you should have something like the picture shown below

Left click on accept and then go to File>Save scene as you should then have another box that appears (as seen below) make sure that your path is set properly highlighted in the image below

Providing that has all gone well we can begin animating!

First we need to import the “Nico” rig onto the stage, to do this simply go to File>Import and find the rig you recently downloaded he should now be opened up and ready for animating

Setting up AutoKey

Okay now were going to set up the AutoKey tool, for those of you who haven't used AutoKey before, it is definitely a lifesaver when it comes to character animation, essentially what it does is key in all the frames that get effected when you move a certain part of the rig, it makes the whole thing a lot quicker as you don't have to key every single handle one by one.

So to do this go to the bottom right hand corner in maya and you should see a box with a key click the box and make sure the background of the key goes read NOTE: this means that AutoKey has been turned on.

Now with AutoKey turned on its time to select all skeletal controls and handles and key frame them one by one, this is done because its whats required to make AutoKey work without doing so AutoKey will not be active, so select each handle and press the “S” key to keyframe them.

make sure all keyframes are on one in the time slider, to check this, notice a red line on the numbered keyframe shown in the image above this means the key frame has been keyed in. Once all the handles have been Key framed its time to think about the extreme poses our rig is going to be in for this walk cycle, every walk cycle weather it be animals,humans,robots etc all have break downs, those are: the contact position, the up position, the pass position and the down position, these easy steps allow us to narrow down the “science” if you will to a walk cycle.

Okay its time to get down the basic leg positions in this walk cycle, the main thing i've noticed when animating this walk cycle that was essential was the timing of the step!

First position:
You can play around with the frame rate as much as you want, this tutorial is more about guiding you through the poses of the walk cycle, i found that the more time you spent on where the keyframes are, the better the walk cycle looks!

This is pretty much the basic pose in which Nico was in all i've done for this one is move the back left leg slightly (see image below for the precise movements in the channel box)

Frame 5:
We are going straight to frame 5 now because i find it need to be just a tad slower than running the walk on 3's, so using the move tool (ShortKey "W")  and lift up the leg slightly and move it forward (or right if we're in side view) and then rotate the leg so that the toes are facing the floor(ShortKey "E"), shown in the image below:

Frame 10:
Okay in this position his back left leg is at its highest but because its somewhat extreme the leg is going to feel more resistance for the animal so were gonna take another 5 frames and do this position on frame 10. On frame 10 rotate the leg back to its normal position ,use the move tool and bring up the leg and slightly move forward from frame 5's position, shown in the image below:

Frame 15:
Okay time for the contact position, bringing the back left leg forward again, place it onto the floor just under the archway of the animals belly (use the image for reference) then rotate the toes into a 'heel up' position again you can reference this in the image below:

Frame 25:
I went straight to frame 25 because i wanted a slow bringing down of the paw, so just click on frame 25 on the timeline and rotate the feet to the floor:

This is how the back leg should look so far....

okay, from looking at past video's of lions and other heavy-ish wild animals, i noticed that there was a pattern, and that was that just a tiny bit before one leg hits the floor, the leg in the diagonal direction starts to lift up so thats what were going to do next! so the leg were going to be moving now is the front right leg!

assuming of course that you AutoKeyed all the elements of this rig at the beginning of this tutorial,  you can go ahead and leave frame 1 as it is,
Frame 13:
Leave frame 13 blank, the only reason we Key framed it was because we need to create a smaller distance for the pose we're about to do in the next keyframe.

Frame 18:
Okay now what we need to do is move the leg up and forward, just under Nico's shoulder if you will!

Frame 28:
With this position all you need to do is just bring the leg forward a little this will slow the leg down, giving the walk a look as though the animal is hunting

Frame 33:
bring the leg forward just a fraction more, for more resistance on the passing position

Frame 48:
Frame 48 is the contact position, bring down the leg using the move tool and make sure the foot is touching the floor of the grid!

Progress so far...

Okay, so were at the stage where if we dont start moving the body our rig starts to get a tad disfigured and could potentially confuse us when it comes to animating the res of the rig, so what were going to do very quickly is animate some of the torso you will also find that after completing this stage, things get a bit more lifelike!

If you look at the screenshot below you'll notice the large green arrow above the rig, and this is what we will be working on for the time being (cog_CON):

Frame 34:
What were going to do here is just merely push the control forward, so that it looks natural, the attributes are shown below:

Frame 50:
This is again just another keyframe to make the distance between other keyframes so we'll leave this blank.

Frame 70-onwards:
Pretty much for the rest of the walk your just following the steps of the feet, you can edit this all out later in the graph editor to make things look a bit  more fluid and natural.

Okay so apart from the set key we did for frame 1 we are going to start just after the front right leg has started, so you should now be able to see how the pattern is working!

Is yet again another keyframe to make the movement faster so just shortkey "S"

Move the leg up slightly and a fraction across! check the attributes on the left hand side for the exact movements!

move the leg slightly across so that the leg is at its midpoint in the cycle (passing position)
finally add the contact position...NEARLY DONE!

The movement so far..


This is another blank frame so just key "S"

Move slightly up shown in the image below



it should look something like this so far:

Finally were going to  finish up on the back left leg again!

This is another blank frame

Just lift the leg straight up shown in the image below:

move the leg slightly forward, just like we did with the other legs
move forward again but drop the leg slightly as its on its down position
This should leave you with your final result: