How to Animate a Walk Cycle With After Effects and Zero Plugins

Looking for methods to create walk cycles for characters in After Effects? There are plenty of tutorials out there already, where you can take your pick. After Effects has more than a few tools for rigging, animating and setup for characters. Character animation in Ae a problem to which there are a lot of solutions. All of those tools aside, you really don’t need anything other than After Effects to animate a character or walk cycle.

Just watch Tony Babel walk through how to animate a walk cycle. Tony is the founder of Pixel Monkeys, and his look at a walk cycle uses nothing but shape layers and keyframes. Even though some tools such as DUIK are free to download and use, working without plugins or scripts or even a rig, can allow you to focus on the mechanics of animation. It can be all too easy to focus on the mechanics of the rig when setting up a character. Sure, it’s a worthwhile effort for production. Just try animating without a rig, once. It will let you focus more on key poses, in-betweens and timing. It can be more liberating than a hindrance.

You can download the assets for this tutorial and follow along, or have a look at how the bird character was created using Illustrator.