Download this Free Cat Run Cycle Animation Tutorial

How to animate a cat run cycle step by step

A cat run cycle is different than a cat walk cycle in a lot of ways.

Obviously a run is much faster. But in quadrupeds this also means a completely different pattern of movement for the legs. Plus there's hang time for when all the feet are in the air with some squash and stretch in the body.

All of this movement varies a bit depending on the kind of cat your animating. Lions are heavier than cheetahs. So cheetahs are more flexible, faster, and able to hit more extreme poses.

But generally cat runs are very similar. 

And at the end of the day having both a cat walk cycle and a cat run cycle with solid weight and power on your demo reel can be quite impressive. So definitely take your time in the tutorial to make the best run cycle you can.

Below is an overview of major steps the tutorial will walk you through from blocking to polish.

*Like the cat walk cycle we'll be using the Lion Rig by Truong again

Cat Run Cycle - Body Blocking

As a walk is so different than a run I'll use a different workflow in this tutorial. More of a layering / straight ahead approach than pose to pose.

So we'll start with the body first and ignore the legs. And we'll use auto tangent right of the bat to get a strong sense of weight in the body.


Break the body up and tackle 1 part at a time starting with the Chest. 


Then block out the pelvis - all the translates and rotates. 


To wrap up the body blocking - rough out the head and belly movement.

Step 2: Cat Run Cycle - Legs Blocking


Rough out the front leg key poses on frame 1, 3, 6, 9, and 13


Rough out the back leg key poses on frame 1, 3, 6, 9, and 13


Adjust all the legs from the front view as well. 

Step 3: Cat Run Cycle - Legs Blocking Plus


Add remaining front leg key poses for the last points of contact and lift off


Add remaining back leg key poses for the last points of contact and lift off


Adjust the chest/pelvis as needed to get the proper straights/bends in legs and to make sure the body has enough weight.

Step 4: Cat Run Cycle - Body Refining


Cycle all the animation for offsetting overlap


Overlap the head and refine the side to side of the pelvis/chest.


Refine the belly's translates and rotates for stronger shapes / drag

Step 5: Cat Run Cycle - Polish


Add Tail and Ear Overlap that doesn't overpower the rest of the animation


Polish Foot Arcs and Shoulders


Polish up Knees/Elbows / Ankles to make sure theres no pops.

Struggling to learn the basics?

Has teaching yourself animation been frustrating? Has overlap, smooth movement, and weight been difficult to get right? Or maybe you're not sure where to even begin... Start here and overcome it all. 

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