How to apply the walk cycle to your Rubberhose rig

Download links at the bottom of the page

walk-cycle-final-med.gif

Getting a walk cycle just right is one of the more challenging aspects of character animation. I thought it would be helpful to create a series of walk cycles and various other actions that you could just apply to your existing rig. This is the first in what I hope will be a collection of those animations.

The download file (links at the bottom of this post) is an After Effects project with a system built in to link the different parts of your rig to the pre-built animation. The file is provided free and if you share, please link back to this page is all I ask.

 The Controllers

The Controllers

 The system

The system

 What's under the hood (shy layers) Yikes! Nothing to see here, just keep these layers shy.

What's under the hood (shy layers) Yikes! Nothing to see here, just keep these layers shy.

Just import your rig or build the character pieces and link as you go.

walk-cycle-how-to-sample1.gif

Watch the full video for detailed instructions on how to get the project working for you or scroll further down for a brief overview.

Briefly, here is how to get the system working for you...

Copy and paste your character into the Happy_Walk_Start composition. If you are building as you go, create your first Rubberhose limb.

start-comp.jpg

You may find it better organization to drag your character below the "Link To Layers" and "Controller" layers

tut-1-drag-below.gif

Select your Controller layer and, in this case working on the left arm first, deselect all controller visibility for all except Left Arm controller and labels. Then turn off the visibility for all of your character pieces except for the left arm and rubberhose controllers for the left arm.

tut-left-arm-setup-edited.gif
 You should see this at this point (but with your own character limb)

You should see this at this point (but with your own character limb)

Select the "Link to Layers" layer and in the Effects palette, click the lock to keep it in place.

tut-lock-link-to-layers-edited.gif

Open the Position property for the Rubberhose wrist control layer. Option/Alt click the position property stopwatch, grab the pickwhip and drag it to the "Link to Layers" Effect palette to the "Left wrist"/Layer property and let go. Make sure you link to the Layer property under "Left wrist" not "Left wrist" itself. Before closing out the expression type in the following code at the end (or copy and paste)

.to_comp([0,0])

This extra bit of code will convert the animation data from 3d to 2d. The animation exists as 3d properties so we need to convert it with this code so it will work with our 2d rubberhose layers.

tut-left-arm-link.gif

Your character limb should now have adopted the animation.

tut-left-arm-rigged.gif

Repeat for the remaining arm and the legs using the same procedure. Remember to unlock the "Link to Layers" Effect palette so you can have access to the effect controls of the "Controller" layer. You will need to turn on and off each limb controller if you want them as guides they though aren't necessary.

Once you have the arms and legs complete, next, we will attach the feet. You will need to align your foot design to the existing controllers. You will see a marker on the Controller layer called "left foot align" place the playhead at this point. Move your character foot into place aligning the toes, foot and ankle controls. If the control points don't line up with your design, get them as close as possible. We will be applying puppet pins and so you can always increase your mesh size to apply a pin outside of your design.

left-foot-align.jpg

With your character foot selected in the comp, add a puppet pin to the toes, foot and ankle centering them on the appropriate control points.

left-foot-pins.jpg

Delete the keyframes that are created by the puppet tool if desired. Label each puppet pin appropriately ("L_toes, L_foot, L_ankle"). Apply the same procedure as above, linking via expressions to the appropriate layer (L-toes puppet pin position to L_toes "Link to Layer" etc.) Don't forget the extra code at the end of each expression! ( .to_comp([0,0]) )

left-foot-pins-linked.jpg

You may find you'll need to tweak the puppet pin positions or the anchor point of the character foot so there isn't too much warping. You could also apply some puppet starch to help control as well.

tut-foot-animation.gif

Apply the same procedure for the right foot using the "right foot align" marker as the frame to reference.

Next we can work on the hands. This procedure is simpler in that we can take any frame and align the hand to the arm. Make sure the control layer for the rubberhose wrist is visible and align the anchor point of your hand as close as possible to the controller center.

tut-hand-align.jpg

Pickwhip the Parent of your hand design to the rubberhose wrist control.

tut-hand-link-to-wrist.gif

Repeat for the other hand.

Next we will align the body by moving it into place and moving the anchor point to the center of the "Neck Base" Controller. This can be turned on by selecting the Controller layer and in the Effects palette turning on the "Head Controllers Visibility".

tut-align-body.jpg

We then apply the same procedure, selecting the position of the body, pickwhipping it to the "Neck Base" layer in Effect Controls, and adding the extra code.

We will do the same thing for the Head aligning it with the "Neck Base". You may find you'll need to adjust the anchor point to get the position correct.

tut-head-align.jpg

Feel free to add any sort of flair to your character (head rotation etc.) to personalize.

walk-cycle-final-clean.gif

Please do write and let me know what you think. Improvements that can be made and suggestions for future animations you'd like to see.

After Effects Project Downloads

Happy Walk Cycle Animation for AE CC15

Happy Walk Cycle Animation for AE CC14

Happy Walk Cycle Animation for AE CC13

KBar Free Icon Pack Download

For those of us working daily in After Effects, we're always keeping an eye out for handy tips, scripts and plugins that make our lives easier and frankly, faster - because time is money, especially when you're freelance. I had been using FT Toolbar from aescripts for several years now and have loved the ability to have expressions, effects and the like right where I'm working, just a click away without having to dig through menus or bother with search terms for those oft-used items.
 My Customized FT Toolbar

My Customized FT Toolbar

 

Couple that with the fact that I am a very visually oriented person (guess I picked the right career path) and this tool spoke to me visually, being able to customize the palette with your own icons making it very intuitive and personal.

Well now there's a new kid on the block in the name of KBar. Essentially it performs the same function but it's more of a 2.0 version of FT Toolbar (it appears FT Toolbar isn't being supported anymore given that the last update was 2016).

 

kbar.jpg

Just as in FT Toolbar, KBar is highly customizable, allowing you to create just about any command and have it easily accessible with one click. The setup is very easy and the ability to create your own buttons makes it very personalized.

 My main customized KBar menu

My main customized KBar menu

In the image above you can see the menu bar I created for my uses. (Available in the download below). I color coded Effects (green), expressions (blue) and Scripts and Extensions (red). I didn't want a lot of text cluttering up the interface so I tried to make the images make some sense to me but you quickly get used to what button serves what function and if you're really stuck, hover over and you will see a description. Below is a description of each button.

 Description of the buttons I created

Description of the buttons I created

Of course you need to have the plugin or effect installed that a particular button is calling for and in the case of scripts, you may have to go into settings and direct it to your script folder.

KBar also allows you to have multiple Menu bars so in addition to the main one above which features my personal go-to effects and commands, I created an Expression Menu...

kbar-menu-expressions.jpg
KBar-layout-expressions.jpg

...and a Scripts Menu...

kbar-menu-scripts.jpg
KBar-layout-scripts.jpg

Feel free to download my Icon pack with my KBar Menu that you can import by selecting Import toolbars from the setting menu of KBar.

kbar-import.jpg

You may find you don't have all of the scripts plugins or extensions that are featured but you can edit this toolbar to suit your needs. As time becomes available I will make more icons based on users requests and create additional free packs.

I'm sure it goes without mentioning that this pack does not include KBar itself, just my toolbar you can import and the icons you can use for it. Go to AEScripts and pick yourself up a copy of this awesome script!