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  • Writer's pictureMauricio Botero

Quadruped Locomotion Sequence

Throughout the next weeks, I will push myself to do something that I have never done before: a multi-shot sequence showing a dog performing a walk, a gallop and a jump without leaving behind the character development. I will be posting on the following weeks the work in progress from the beginning to the end in a daily or weekly basis. I’m very excited to face this new challenge and I hope that I get satisfied with the final result.


Original post on May 28th, 2018


Walk Cycle:

Final Blocking: 3 Hours & 20 Minutes

Final Polish: 16 Hours & 55 Minutes

Total Time: 20 Hours & 15 Minutes


Run/Gallop Cycle:

Final Blocking: 3 Hours & 20 Minutes

Final Polish: 16 Hours & 55 Minutes

Total Time: 20 Hours & 15 Minutes

 

Day 1, May 28:


I started this challenge by studying first the anatomy of multiple animals breaking down its basic bone structure: the spine, the rib-cage, the hips and the front and back legs. The purpose of these studies will be to get to know how anatomy works on quadrupeds and identify their similarities and differences. The premise of this study is that every animal share the same bone structure (the human included) but they have variations in proportions and size which describe the unique

locomotion of each animals.


I will start this study with the dog.




 

Day 2, May 30:


Today I continued the anatomy study of dogs, however after noticing that it’s too difficult to understand accurately the anatomy by drawing basic shapes I research about the dog’s skeleton and use it as a reference to know exactly the position of the bones and its shape. This allow me to understand how the bones are connected between them and understand better the basic bone structure discussed in the previous post. These are the two studies that I made today:



The color conventions are: orange for the spine; dark orange for the scapula and the hips; green for the chest; red for the upper arm/leg; blue for the lower arm/leg; dark yellow for the metacarpals and the sole of the foot; and light yellow for the fingers and fingernails.

 

Day 3, June 3:


Although this week is very difficult to work on this challenge because of time. I manage to study the basic structure of the dog’s anatomy by drawing over and over again with simple lines the anatomy of the dog (each line describing the spine, the rib-cage, the hips and the limbs) in my sketchbook.


Sketchbook (Front):


Sketchbook (Back):


 

Day 4, June 4:

After 3 days of rest after a busy quarter in college, I re-think the structure of how I will overcome this challenge and I decided to put a hold in the anatomy studies through photographs and start to study animal anatomy by reading mainly two books (one of theory and another one for photo reference).


The book are Animal Anatomy for Artists: Elements of Form by Eliot Goldfinger, and An Atlas of Animal Anatomy for Artists by W. Ellenberger, H. Dittrich and H. Baum. 


Also, in the following weeks I will try to read about human anatomy because after some research I found that animals share multiple similarities with human’s anatomy on their basic structure if it’s taken for granted that the fore limbs of animals are like the arms, and the hind limbs are like the legs in humans.


I will study human anatomy by reading the book Anatomy for the Artist by Sarah Simblet and Classical Human Anatomy by Valerie L. Winslow. 


However, because my main focus will be on animals, I will study human anatomy on my spare time and I will focus on the first book mentioned because the second one focus not only on anatomy but in motion, and in in this challenge my main goal is to be aware of the structure of the skeleton (and muscles) in humans.

 

Day 5, June 22:


Dog's anatomy study


 

Day 6, June 23:


Dog's anatomy study


 

Day 7, June 24:


Dog's anatomy study


 

Day 8, June 25:


Dog's anatomy study


 

Day 9, June 26:


Dog's anatomy study


 

Day 10, June 27:


Dog's anatomy study


 

Day 11, June 28:


Dog's anatomy study


 

Day 12, June 29:


Dog's anatomy study


 

Day 13, June 30:


Dog's anatomy study


 

Day 14, July 1:


Dog's anatomy study


 

Day 15, July 2:


Dog's anatomy study


 

Day 16, July 3:


Dog's anatomy study


 

Day 17, July 4:


Dog's anatomy study


 

Day 18, July 8:


First Cat's anatomy study


 

Day 19, July 20:


I begin animating the walk cycle of the dog for the sequence. The plan is to complete the walk cycle and then continue with the run cycle and, finally, mix them together in a single sequence.


Final Blocking: 1 Hour & 10 Minutes

Total Time: 1 Hours & 10 Minutes

 

Day 20, July 20:


Walk Cycle Final Blocking Pass.


Final Blocking: 2 Hours & 18 Minutes

Total Time: 2 Hours & 18 Minutes

 

Day 21, July 27:


Walk Cycle Final Blocking with fixes based on feedback. Thanks to AnimDojo community and my peers!


Final Blocking: 3 Hours & 20 Minutes

Total Time: 3 Hours & 20 Minutes

 

Day 22, July 28:


Walk Cycle Spline Pass Update


Final Blocking: 3 Hours & 20 Minutes

Final Polish: 0 Hours & 41 Minutes

Total Time: 4 Hours & 01 Minutes

 

Day 23, July 30:


Today I focus polishing the front and back feet of one side of the character. I do some retiming and work on the spacing of the stride, fixing some poses along the way.


Final Blocking: 3 Hours & 20 Minutes

Final Polish: 1 Hour & 31 Minutes

Total Time: 4 Hours & 51 Minutes

 

Day 24, August 20:


Today I do a polish pass on the chest, the hips and the scapula (right and left) and started to animate frame by frame the peel off of one of the front foots.


Final Blocking: 3 Hours & 20 Minutes

Final Polish: 2 Hour & 27 Minutes

Total Time: 5 Hours & 47 Minutes

 

Day 25, August 21:


Today I polish the front foot positions and poses, as well as the timing and the spacing of the overall walk and the front foot poses.


Final Blocking: 3 Hours & 20 Minutes

Final Polish: 3 Hour & 32 Minutes

Total Time: 6 Hours & 52 Minutes

 

Day 26, August 22:


Today I work on polishing the back legs's timing, spacing and poses to make them feel connected to the whole body.


Final Blocking: 3 Hours & 20 Minutes

Final Polish: 4 Hour & 32 Minutes

Total Time: 7 Hours & 52 Minutes

 

Day 27, August 23:


I decided to animate an additional hour today because I think I will not have time to do it tomorrow so I tried to finish the final details of the walk cycle by doing a polish pass on the neck, the head and increasing the length of the stride of the back legs (by following the reference).


The final step will be to post the playblast on the AnimDojo community and address possible notes according to feedback.


Final Blocking: 3 Hours & 20 Minutes

Final Polish: 5 Hour & 41 Minutes

Total Time: 9 Hours & 01 Minutes

 

Day 28, August 27:


Today I address the notes that some people gave me on social networks groups and in the AnimDojo community. I rush a little bit to get the walk done and I forgot to give the sense of weight to the body after the contacts so I work today on that, but I found that polishing the elbows of the front legs are very difficult and I think I will need an extra day or two to get done with the walk before starting looking reference for the run cycle.


I'm only working first on one of the legs and later I will transfer all the changes to the other leg.


Final Blocking: 3 Hours & 20 Minutes

Final Polish: 6 Hour & 47 Minutes

Total Time: 10 Hours & 07 Minutes

 

Day 29, August 28:


Today I keep polishing the front legs pops (elbows) and the peeling off, however I will leave the front legs as they are for now because I have already spend too much time on them. I also mirror the animation that I work on the left leg to the right leg.


Finally, I started to work on the back legs (on one side first) by adjusting the ups and downs of the hips and the knee pops by animating the ankle and the poses in the peeling off. There are a lot of work to do on the back legs but it's a good start.


Final Blocking: 3 Hours & 20 Minutes

Final Polish: 7 Hour & 51 Minutes

Total Time: 11 Hours & 11 Minutes

 

Day 30, August 29:


Today I started to polish the back legs, however I get a little annoyed while I saw the front legs because they were going from the ground to the air and again to the ground too fast, so I tweaked a little bit the timing by delaying a little bit the air time of the legs.


Later, I worked more closely with the back legs but there're still a lot of things to work on. But, also I'm feeling that maybe I have spend too much time seeing this animation and maybe I need to move ahead with looking for reference for the run cycle and start doing the blocking.


Final Blocking: 3 Hours & 20 Minutes

Final Polish: 8 Hour & 56 Minutes

Total Time: 12 Hours & 16 Minutes

 

Day 31, August 30:


Walk Cycle Polish Update:

Today I finish mirroring the work in progress of the back legs animation. I didn't touch anything of the front legs and I will leave the walk like this to start working on the run/gallop cycle of the dog.


The reason to do this is because I'm feeling that I spent too much time polishing little details of the walk that the original walk has changed too much and I'm afraid to change it more until the point that I get confused with the goal of the walk: do a standard walk cycle that will be part of a sequence in which the dog will walk, run, jump and stop.


Final Blocking: 3 Hours & 20 Minutes

Final Polish: 9 Hour & 23 Minutes

Total Time: 12 Hours & 43 Minutes


Run/Gallop Cycle Blocking Update:

I started the run cycle by looking for the video reference on YouTube and other sources and I found a video that works as a loop for doing the animation. This is the reference:


Also, I started to do the blocking of the run cycle starting with the extension pose.


Final Blocking: 0 Hours & 29 Minutes

Total Time: 0 Hours & 29 Minutes

 

Day 32, August 31:


Run Cycle Blocking Update:

Today I continue to block out the run/gallop cycle of the dog. I focused mainly on identifying the main poses in which the dog contacts the ground, and the extension and compression poses. I didn't focus on the exact position of the back and front legs or the position of the ups and downs of the chest and the hips (only the physicality that the reference provides).


This is a rough blocking pass so I will continue to work on the poses that I already have until I get the correct mechanics of the run taking into account the proportions of the rig. Then, I will go forward polishing the run on 1's.


Final Blocking: 1 Hours & 8 Minutes

Total Time: 1 Hours & 8 Minutes

 

Day 33, September 15:


Run/Gallop Cycle Update:

Big changes on the run cycle. I felt unsatisfied with the timing of the animation because I felt that the reference was giving me the wrong timing (and it was, after some research I found that it was in slow motion and in 30fps), so I changed my reference.


Before going into Maya, I analyze the motion of the run cycle because there was a lot of motion on each one of the 10 poses of the cycle. I look for the extreme poses of the reference on each body part and I decided to go with a layered method this time blocking the chest, the hips, the neck and head and the front and back limbs in separate passes. Today, I worked blocking the chest, the hips and the neck and head (I will leave the legs for later).


Final Blocking: 3 Hours & 33 Minutes

Total Time: 3 Hours & 33 Minutes

 

Day 34, September 16:


Run/Gallop Cycle Update:

I finished the final blocking of the run cycle. I work on the legs by following the reference. First the front legs and then the back legs. Then, I do a simple facial expression and finally I double check the poses of the legs to make sure that I don't have overstretched segments in the legs.


Final Blocking: 5 Hours & 48 Minutes

Total Time: 5 Hours & 48 Minutes

 

Day 35, September 17:


Run/Gallop Cycle Update:

Yesterday I asked for feedback to my peers for the run cycle to help me to see issues with the animation (apart from the ones that I already knew) and I received a lot of comments. I started to addressed those notes and I fixed a lot of the issues, however there're still some things that I have to address.


After finishing with those notes I will double check everything to make sure that the run is entirely finish and, finally, I will show it to my instructors on the college to have a final stage of polish. However, I think that I will leave that when I add an extra layer of polish on the walk cycle, which needs a lot of work.


PD: Today I have some troubles with opening Maya and I lost 50 minutes troubleshooting. However, this time was recorded because I think is important to record also the time while troubleshooting to being aware that the final log time will be not only animating but also addressing technical issues.


Final Blocking: 5 Hours & 48 Minutes

Final Polish: 3 Hour & 21 Minutes

Total Time: 9 Hours & 9 Minutes

 

Day 36, September 18:


Run/Gallop Cycle Update:

Today, I continue to polish the run cycle by following the notes given by my peers. There're still a couple of things to polish but it's almost done.


By the way, today I have some problem with the Maya file and I have to redo 50% of the things that I do, that time was recorded but 40 or 50 minutes were lost by restarting Maya over and over again.


Final Blocking: 5 Hours & 48 Minutes

Final Polish: 5 Hour & 16 Minutes

Total Time: 11 Hours & 4 Minutes

 

Day 37, No Date:


No Record

 

Day 38, September 20:

Run/Gallop Cycle Update:

Today I finish polishing the last details of the animation and I add a facial expression to give a little more personality to the dog. Now I will ask for feedback to my peers and make an appointment with one or two of my instructors in my college to have additional feedback. It's almost done!


Final Blocking: 5 Hours & 48 Minutes

Final Polish: 6 Hour & 50 Minutes

Total Time: 12 Hours & 38 Minutes

 

Day 39, September 25:


Run/Gallop Cycle Update:

Today I analyze from live action reference the foot positions of seen in the front view and work on the overlapping action of the tongue, the collar and the head positions to make sure that the dog looks straight. Also, I reduce the rotations of the head to avoid problems with the eye directions.


I will only work on this animation for one more day and after that I will continue with the walk cycle that I left behind for more than one month (I don't remember how many time has passed but it's time to come back to the walk cycle and raise the animation quality as this animation). While I work on the walk cycle, I will ask for feedback to my instructors in the college.


PD: I know I say that too much but the feedback on social media became more frequently than I anticipated, which is nice but I think is time to go give this animation a break.


Final Blocking: 5 Hours & 48 Minutes

Final Polish: 9 Hour & 0 Minutes

Total Time: 14 Hours & 48 Minutes

 

Day 40, September 26:


Run/Gallop Cycle Update:

Today I worked on the last notes that I have from the last time I asked for feedback. I will continue asking for feedback but for now I will focus on the walk cycle that I haven't touched in a while ago to be able to start animating the transition between the walk and the gallop.


Final Blocking: 5 Hours & 48 Minutes

Final Polish: 10 Hour & 5 Minutes

Total Time: 15 Hours & 53 Minutes

 

Day 41, September 27:

Walk Cycle Update:

Today I analyze a new reference and take notes because it became really hard to understand what it's not working on the walk cycle I was doing. I learned a lot form the reference that I didn't saw before and I feel ready to start adding and modifying the things that I missed.


I saw two references, one from the side and one from behind, however the most useful one was the reference from the side. Although, the reference from behind show me the foot positions from the back and front view.


Final Blocking: 3 Hours & 20 Minutes

Final Polish: 10 Hours & 18 Minutes

Total Time: 13 Hours & 38 Minutes

 

Day 42, September 28:


Walk Cycle Update:

Today I started to apply the previous analysis from the reference to the walk cycle that I already have. I locate the main poses that I need and remove additional in-betweens to stretch the timing of the cycle from 24 frames per cycle to 20 frames per cycle. Then, I started by working first on the chest, then on the hips and then on the front feet positions and poses from the left view. I started to work on the back feet but I stop because I feel too tired to continue.


I will continue on this week polishing the back feet and then I will proceed with the scapula and fixing the spacing in the legs, which I consider is the most difficult thing to nail down. However, I'm feeling that with this reference the walk is working better.


Final Blocking: 3 Hours & 20 Minutes

Final Polish: 12 Hours & 28 Minutes

Total Time: 15 Hours & 48 Minutes

 

Day 43, September 29:


Walk Cycle Update:

Today I work on the back legs positions and the knee pops of the front legs as well as their spacing by animating the scapula of one of the legs. I haven't mirror it yet but I will do it when I feel entirely comfortable with the animation.


I will keep working polishing the back legs and the neck and the head. Then I will ask for feedback on social networks and my professors here on the college.

Final Blocking: 3 Hours & 20 Minutes

Final Polish: 13 Hours & 31 Minutes

Total Time: 16 Hours & 51 Minutes

 

Day 44, September 30:

Walk Cycle Update:

Today I started by doing a pass in the neck and the head, then I add a squish (by recommendation of one of my instructors) in the toes after the feet contacts the ground to feel better the pressure against the ground. I finalized today's session by animating the position of the feet on the front and back view to break the symmetry between the front and the back legs.


Tomorrow I will continue with polishing the back legs and the hips.


Final Blocking: 3 Hours & 20 Minutes

Final Polish: 14 Hours & 47 Minutes

Total Time: 18 Hours & 07 Minutes

 

Day 45, October 1:


Run/Gallop Cycle Update:

So after 45 days of study and work I finally finished one of the animations! I know there're still things to do and I may address them later when I start to assemble everything together into one sequence. However, I already addressed too many notes in this run cycle and I need to keep going forward if I want to get also the walk cycle in a good shape.


Final Blocking: 5 Hours & 48 Minutes

Final Polish: 11 Hour & 12 Minutes

Total Time: 17 Hours & 0 Minutes

 

Day 46, October 3:

Walk Cycle Update:

Today I finished with some additional modifications to the walk such as animating the tail and provide a facial expression. Also, I do a pass on the back legs to be sure that the arc is well spaced.


I will upload the animation to social media to ask for feedback but I'm feeling that I can finish with the walk cycle very soon and include the walk cycle and the run cycle to my demo reel (to have quadruped animation on my reel for now) and continue working on the sequence on my free time.


So the next step will be polish the little things of the walk cycle and ask for feedback for the run cycle (I would say that my deadline to stop tweaking things will be until Day 51). Address the notes on my spare time, and finally start doing the transition from walk to run in one Maya file by combining both animations into one scene.


Final Blocking: 3 Hours & 20 Minutes

Final Polish: 16 Hours & 06 Minutes

Total Time: 19 Hours & 26 Minutes

 

Day 47, October 8:


Run/Gallop Cycle Update:

Today I get over with the final note for the run cycle: the overlap on the tail. I redo the shapes of the tail to make sure there is a change in shape in every frame to make it look more natural and appealing.


Now the cycle is done (for now, it may change a little bit when I tackle the quadruped sequence. However, I will not touch the cycle again.)


Final Blocking: 3 Hours & 20 Minutes

Final Polish: 16 Hours & 55 Minutes

Total Time: 20 Hours & 15 Minutes

Walk Cycle Update:

Today I address some of the notes of one of my instructors in the college. I will continue addressing the notes, there're mainly about the back legs, and then I will mirror both legs and ask again for feedback.


Final Blocking: 3 Hours & 20 Minutes

Final Polish: 16 Hours & 55 Minutes

Total Time: 20 Hours & 15 Minutes

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