A cat walk cycle animation is a great start to learning creature animation.
Although, most animators get confused, as soon as they start animating any creature with 4 legs.
So if you're able to animate a cat walk with decent weight and mechanics it can help your demo reel stand out from the pack.
Check out this animation tutorial for a step by step walk-through:
And once you get this down I recommend trying out our Cat Run Cycle Tutorial next.
Check it out here: Cat Run Cycle Animation Tutorial
*If you haven't animated a normal human walk cycle yet - you should do that first. Cat walks are much harder. Check out our walk cycle animation blueprint and step by step walk cycle animation tutorial for help.
Here's a quick big picture breakdown of how we'll animate the cat walk cycle step by step.
You can use this as a reminder of what you should be working on if you get a bit lost in your key frames.
Step 1: Cat Walk Cycle - Planning
Find Reference of a Cat Walk. Getty images, and YouTube are great free resources for this. Higher quality reference can be found at rhino house.
Study the reference frame by frame
Choose a rig. I'm using the Lion Rig from Truong. Then bring that rig and your reference into Maya. If you use the same rig - set the spine to IK, the neck to FK and the tail to FK with global on.
Step 2: Cat Walk Cycle - Blocking
Start blocking in Stepped tangents. Create the Up and Down key poses for the pelvis on frame 1, 9, 17, 25,33
Create the Contact and Passing key poses for the chest on frames 1, 9, 17, 25, 33
Adjust the legs and shoulders for each key pose. Keep in mind the legs should be quite straight on the passing poses with the clavicle rising up and back.
Step 3: Cat Walk Cycle - Blocking Plus
Create the Contact and Passing key poses for the pelvis on frame 5, 13, 21, 29
Create the Up and down key poses for the chest on frames 5, 13, 21, 29
Adjust the legs and shoulders for each key pose.
Step 4: Cat Walk Cycle - Refining
Swap all your Tangent curves from Stepped to Auto Tangent
Tweak the chest and pelvis so your tangent curves keep the weight and your in-betweens favor the extremes.
Add foot smooth foot pickups with clean arcs in the paws, ankles, and elbows. Then make sure its also arcing from the whole leg is arcing in the front view.
Step 5: Cat Walk Cycle - Polish
Create some quick overlap in the neck and head by copying the rotations over from the chest and offsetting each controller 1 frame later than the last. Then translate the neck from the front to keep the head more stable.
Counter animate the belly on the passing positions to not swing out so much. And create some delay in rotate z so it overlaps with the chest as it swings side to side.
Create quick tail overlap by copying the pelvis curves to the base of the tail and all of the FK curves on the tail. Then adjust the shape of the tail and offset them all 1 frame later.
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.