In this tutorial, I'll be showing you how to animate a simple walk cycle. I used adobe flash to make it, but you can use whatever program you want.
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Step 1: Creating a Character
First, you'll create a new file. You can set the size to whatever you want, but if you want to upload your cartoon to YouTube or anything when your finished, 1920x1080 is the way to go; as it will upload in HD. You'll also want to change the frame rate. Usually cartoons are created at 24 or 25 frames per second(FPS). Go ahead and change yours to 24.
The first step is to draw your character. This can be whatever you want, but if you're creating a walk cycle for the first time, it's best to go simple. I'm starting at a point in this profile walk cycle that's usually called the passing point. This is where one leg crosses in front of or behind the other. You'll also notice that at this point both of the characters arms are at the sides.
Step 2: Beginning Frame by Frame
Most of what you do in animation is frame by frame, where you draw each frame just a little different from the last to create the illusion of movement. One tool that flash as well as many other programs have is called "onion skin." In flash it is located under your timeline (where it says layer 1) and is two overlapping boxes.Turn that on. This will let you see exactly what was in the previous frame.
So on to the next step in your walk cycle. Just after the passing point, the character begins to spring forward, and the back foot is only partially on the ground. Another important part of this frame is that the character is slightly taller in this frame than the previous one.
Step 3: Continued Frame by Frame
At this point, the front foot has just barely reached the ground, and the back foot continues to peel off the ground. The character's head is slightly lower at this point than it was in the previous frame.
An important part about walk cycles to remember is that the arms will swing in reverse of the feet; so if the left foot is forward, the right arm is also forward.
Step 4: Contact
Your character has now fully made contact with the ground, so the body should reflect that. The head should be the lowest at this point in the cycle, and the arms spread out the farthest. While the front foot is fully flat on the ground, the back foot is just getting ready to take off.
Step 5: The Passing Point Again
We have reached the passing point once again: but you're not done yet. It's the other legs turn to move forward.
The next couple frames might seem like Déjà vu, but they have to be done nonetheless.
The next two frames should be almost identical to steps two and three, but with the arms and legs on opposite sides of the body. Add them in the next two frames based off of those drawings, so that they create a nice bridge between the two passing points.
If you've not done so already, you can check out your animation so far by pressing ctrl+enter, at least for PC and flash users. It might seem a little fast. This is just because of how simple the animation is and how few frames it uses. A good way to remedy this without adding in more drawings is to drag out each picture so it lasts for two frames, which essentially brings your frame rate down to 12.
Step 7: Finish!
Good to go! Step back and admire your walk cycle. It should look something like this.
If you drew all of them in the same place like I did, you can change it to have the character move across the screen by having the background move the opposite direction, or by actually moving the character.
If you have any questions, or would like me to do another tutorial, please let me know. In the meantime you can check out some of the cartoons I've made https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtF_gXsGsMrxhRsA9.... I've learned everything I know about flash through tutorials like this instructable, so hopefully this helps!