Animation &Disney &Frame Grabs &walk cycle 03 Apr 2008 08:23 am

Art Student walking

- When I was young, as I’ve pointed out many times, there were few books available about animation and as few illustrations and photos which ellicited the art of animation. Hence, it was always a treat when a Disney feature was released. The adjoining publicity would provide a trove of publicity material, some worth saving. An encyclopedia my parents bought at about the time of release of 101 Dalmations included several key images of Pongo running. One of those photos of many cels overlayed to detail the cycle. I loved that picture and frequently looked at that encyclopedia under “Cartoons, Animated” to study the photo of the cels.

At the very beginning of 101 Dalmatians, Pongo looks out onto the street to search for a good mate for both himself and Roger, his owner. At this point we’re treated to a number of walk cycles that I think are brilliant. A number of women are perfectly matched to the dogs that they walk.

Now with DVDs available to us, we can see that the characters originated in the storyboard drawings, and we can study these walk cycles. I’m determined to take these animated bits apart to watch them a bit closer.

The first of these is the “girl art student” as described in the drafts (which can be found on Hans Perks’ excellent site A Film LA.) Oddly, from my very first viewing of this film back in 1961, I identified her as a “beatnick,” which was the fashionable joke back then. Now I find out she was an “art student.” I guess that makes sense.

Here’s the pan BG that this scene employs.

________________(Click any image to enlarge.)

And here is the walk cycle animated by Frank Thomas and Blaine Gibson.
Gibson handled the following scene which pans across the bodies of the pair as they walk.

1 2

3 4

5 6

7 8



The “Art student” walks her dog on threes.

Animation note: The two separate feet are divided by a short space. The left foot is on one plane, and the right foot is on another. This is a BASIC precept for animators to follow, and it’s something that is not appearing in a lot of the recent walk cycles I’ve been seeing. It’s annoying.

26 Responses to “Art Student walking”

  1. on 03 Apr 2008 at 9:46 am 1.Mark Mayerson said …

    Thanks for isolating this walk, Mike. I use the opening to teach walks to my students and I’m going to be commenting about all the walks in this sequence, probably on the weekend.

  2. on 03 Apr 2008 at 11:00 am 2.Rafi animates said …

    Thanks for posting this analysis. I hope you do more soon because I absolutely love this film and have been meaning to analyse these character walks in particular – you’ve done a much better job than I would have, by isolating it. great stuff, thanks again.

  3. on 03 Apr 2008 at 11:05 am 3.Tim Hodge said …

    I have often studied these walk cycles and the differences and similarities between them. Compare the Art Student’s posture to the High Society Lady. The student almost seems to be leaning backwards, hence the slow gait. The faster a person walks, the more lean there is.
    And the Lady with the Pug is a good study, too: the dog has to walk twice as fast because the length of it’s stride is half the distance.
    This sequence really illustrates how well the animators knew their craft, to be able to break down so much character into a 12 drawing cycle.

  4. on 04 Apr 2008 at 2:43 pm 4.Pete Emslie said …

    As many times as I’ve watched and enjoyed this sequence, it is only now that you’ve isolated it that I notice the liberties the animators took with the hind legs of the afghan hound. Whereas all the other dogs in the film walk with their back heels raised off the ground like real dogs, this afghan is walking like the more cartoony Pluto, with her heels flat on the ground. Yet it works so beautifully as the doggy counterpart to her plodding, bohemian owner!

  5. on 07 Apr 2008 at 12:37 pm 5.Jenny Lerew said …

    Beautiful presentation of this walk. Funny-it’s one of those brief things that sticks out for everyone I’ve ever known-imo all of Dalmations is a wonderful, topnotch film but this bit is so memorable. I can remember being fascinated as a kid(pre video btw)by the hair on both woman and dog(which in that tiny but sufficient span of time we’re supposed to register and be amused by-and are).

    I don’t know how you manage to out these posts together so elegantly with everything else you have going on but I’m certainly glad you do. Thanks.

  6. on 10 Apr 2008 at 12:46 am 6.Don Perro said …

    Great choice of study. I usually use this sequence as a reference when teaching quadruped movement. One interesting point of these walks is that the first dogs walk unrealistically (either both right paws making contact at the same time or hit exactly opposite each other. Only Perdita the dalmation has a “correct” walk (ie. front legs in a stride/back legs in a cross-over). I think the animators were having fun with the caricatures before having to fall into step ;) for the walks in the rest of the film.

    Also, on the subject of walks, why do so many schools focus on teaching the walk “cycle” first? Sure, a cycle is good for studying your animation, but it’s so much easier to learn an A to B walk, avoiding the math and reinforcing feet that don’t slide around. A to B walks allow for so much more personality. And walk cycles in grad reels? Ugh. Sorry, pet peeve.

  7. on 10 Apr 2008 at 8:17 am 7.Michael said …

    Dan, I agree with you about teaching walk “cycles” before A to B walks. It’s a mistake. Dick Williams never teaches cycles, and for good reason.

  8. on 11 Apr 2008 at 1:56 pm 8.Ward said …

    Michael, funny you should mention the separation of the feet for the different planes — this is something that I’m ALWAYS aware of when I do any kind of walk for a particular character! And it’s definitely something that’s always overlooked when it comes to schooling nowadays. And when it’s done correctly, it’s amazing to see just how much difference that little bit of detail can make on a scene.

  9. on 11 Apr 2008 at 10:13 pm 9.chuck said …

    I saw this in the theater when it first came out
    and I believed it was real. thanks Michael
    I love it and your blog is awesome and inspiring!

  10. on 08 Jul 2008 at 3:02 pm 10.Dm said …

    Ok…this is probably a dumb question as I’m a bit of a newbie animator but is the different foot plane idea only apply to 2d animation or is something that 3d animators need to think about?

  11. on 08 Jul 2008 at 3:13 pm 11.Michael said …

    The two planes are designed to create depth. Since you’re asking about 3D animation construction, you’re even more obliged to follow the rules of depth. The feet ALWAYS stay on two separate planes. It’s just a rule of drawing.

  12. on 14 Nov 2008 at 10:50 am 12.Monika Zacher said …

    Dear Michael,
    Wooooowww!!! It’s absolutely terrific for me!
    I really can’t believe that I found this!!

    Thank you soooo much!!

    Best regards

  13. on 13 Oct 2009 at 9:21 pm 13.Afghan Hound Enthusiast said …

    Afghan hounds are quite regal and make great candidates for cartoons and illustrations. Reminds me of a princess! Nice animation work!

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