Monday, August 29, 2016

Horse Walk Cycles

Here's a walk cycle of a horse, animated from four angles by Simon Otto in preparation for Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. (link to YouTube)

Whether you're a painter, sketch artist, or an animator, it's helpful to study frame-by-frame breakdowns of walk cycles. Still one of the best sources is the pioneering work of Edweard Muybridge, who took photos of horses in motion as early as 1878.

Muybridge horse walking with rider
Here's one basic observation about a walking quadruped. Typically when one of the front legs passes the other's position, the back legs will be at full extension (first and last frame above). 

Similarly, when the back legs pass each other (frames 6 and 7), the front legs are at full extension. (Note: read the action from right to left starting in the second row.)

Even if you're a painter and not an animator, it's good practice to sketch a few key poses so that you can generate them from memory. This can be a big help later when you're sketching living animals. When they're moving at normal speed it's almost too fast to observe.

Here are some resources if you want to explore this topic further.

More about Simon Otto



Eugene Arenhaus said...

Fun fact: Muybridge actually got into photographing phases of motion because governor Stanford hired him to do it in order to prove that running horses did lift all four legs from the ground, and win in a discussion.

Tobias Gembalski said...

From my experience as an animator a proper walk-cycle is the hardest (time-consuming) thing to do. Thanks for sharing.
I also like the other video Creative
Spark: Simon Otto