How to Make Your Puppet Walk in Adobe Character Animator

Add custom walk cycles to your puppets without animating it. How to prepare the puppet for walking? How to add and customize walking puppet behavior? How to rig your puppet for the best walk?

Walking is a basic behavior we would want our character to have in order to deliver the illusion of movement. Making walk cycle animations manually requires a high level of expertise and tons of time to get it right. It is actually one of the hardest things to master as an animator. Luckily with Adobe Character Animator *, this process can be automated. Of course, the result won’t be as magical as a professionally drawn manual walk cycle. Yet with a bit of tweaking the walk can look quite good.

How to Make Your Puppet Walk

Follow these 5 simple steps and your character will be walking.

Step 1: Prepare the Right Views in the Design Software

For the puppet to walk in Adobe Character Animator it needs to have at least one profile view artwork. However, it is best practice to import a character that has a front, left profile and right profile views.  

character hierarchy for walking

Each view (Front, Left, and Profile) has to have its own head and body folder.

In the body folder for the profile view, the character needs to have a right leg layer, left leg layer, left arm layer, right arm layer, and torso.

Add the + sign before each arm and leg names for them to be independent when you import the character into the software. +Left Arm, +Right Arm, +Left Leg, +Right Leg.

Step 2: Import the Character in Adobe Character Animator

importing artwork into character animator

Step 3: Add Walk Behavior

  1.  Go to the rig view.
  2.  Double click the character name you imported in the project panel.
  3.  Select the top-level puppet in the puppet panel.
  4. Click the + sign next to the Behaviors in the properties panel and add the Walk behavior. 
add walk behavior to your puppet

Step 4: Rig

Perform the next steps for both Left and Right Profile:

Add a handle for the waist

  • Select the body group and the handle tool from the tools panel.
  • Draw a handle for the waist.
  • Tag this handle as waist in the properties panel.
add waist handle to the body

Rig the Legs

  • Select the right leg.
  • Set the attach style to 'Hinge' in the layer section of the properties panel.
legs attach style for walking
  • Pick the handle tool from the tool panel.
  • Draw 4 handles: one for the hip at the top, a second one for the knee, a third one for the ankle and two more for the heel and for the toe.
  • Tag the knee, ankle, heel and toe in the tags section of the properties panel.
  • Select the Stick tool.
  • Draw 3 sticks: one between the hip and the knee, a second one between the knee and the ankle and one more between the heel and the toe.
  • Do the same for the left leg.
how to rig a leg for walking
  • Select the body group.
  • Draw handles on the green circles you will see (those are the origins of left and right legs).
  • Tag each handle as left  and right hip accordingly.
adding hip handles to the body layer for walking

Rig the Arms

  • Select the right arm .
  • Set the attach style to 'Weld' in the layer section of the properties panel.

  (In some cases ‘Hinge’ can work better for the walks, you need to experiment on your own puppet and  see what works best for you).

attach style for arms for walking in adobe character animator
  • Pick the handle tool from the tool panel.
  • Draw 2 handles: for the elbow and for the wrist.
  • Tag the elbow and the wrist in the tags section of the properties panel.
  • Do the same for the left arm.
arm rig for walking in adobe character animator
  • Select the body group.
  • Draw handles on the green circles you will see (those are the origins of left and right arms).
  • Tag each handle as left and right shoulder accordingly.
adding shoulder rig for walking

Step 5: Customize the Walk Behavior

  • Add your character to the scene. 
You should now see your character walking in place. If you see some problems you might want to play a bit with the handle positioning it usually solves many of the issues.
  • To give the walk more attitude and personality you can play with: stride length, step speed fields under walk behavior in properties panel.
  • Set the walk mode to 'Left and Right Arrow keys' once you are happy with the walk itself.

The default mode for the walk behavior is set to ‘immediately’. That means that once added to the scene the character will start walking in place right away. That is very convenient for rigging and problem fixing but usually not something you would want later on. So once you are happy with how the character walks set the mode to ‘Left and Right Arrow keys’. That will allow you to trigger and control the walk with left and right arrow keys.

Congratulations!

Your puppet should now be able to walk. Just press left and right arrow keys during the recording and your character will walk in your scene. The rigging might seem like a long process at first but it can actually be completed in a matter of minutes once you are familiar with the process.

Now What?

Now your character can move around and is ready for recordingYou can also download Nelson puppet for free as a reference or for use in your own projects.

Add custom walk cycles to your puppets without animating it. How to prepare the puppet for walking? How to add and customize walking puppet behavior? How to rig your puppet for the best walk?
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