2D Animation: Walk Cycles & Character Movement

Bring your 2D character to life in this 6-Week Workshop

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Milt Kahl example 101 dalmations

Character Movement Example by Milt Kahl

Tell a Story through 2D Character Movement

Movement is at the heart of every story, be it a subtle head tilt or a boisterous cartwheel. In order to tell an engaging story, it’s important to master the fundamentals of character mechanics.

We’ll jump right into the Character Movement & Walk Cycle Animation course by focusing on body mechanics, a term used in animation to describe the movement of biped (two-legged) characters.

When animating, it’s important to think of your character as a series of connected “parts” so that their entire body moves in a believable way. Get comfortable with body mechanics now so you don’t end up with stiff and wooden performances later on.

In this workshop, you’ll apply the core principles of body mechanics to animate believable character movement. You’ll follow in the footsteps of legendary 2D animators as you master classic exercises like walk and run cycles before moving on to more complex character movements.

Jay Jackson Walk Cycle Example 2D Animation

Rough Basic 2D Walk Cycle by Jay Jackson


$899 USD

Starts Tuesday
June 25, 2024

Register By
June 23, 2024

Pro Animators Mentor You to Be Successful

This workshop allows you to learn, practice, and get 1:1 feedback and reviews from our mentors. Through in-class examples and homework assignments, they’ll present 2D workflows and techniques that are useful to every animator.

You will have the chance to learn from our mentors in live conversations as they share insights about what studios are working on and what qualities they look for in an animator. Our mentors will work directly with you to grow and improve your skills, whether you’re interested in studying classic animation techniques, telling your own story, or enhancing your 2D character animation experience.

Jay Jackson - mentor 2d animation instructor

Jay Jackson


Jay Jackson is an incredible character animator, mastering traditional 2D workflows, 3D character animation, and modern 2D digital animation techniques. He’s worked on 2D animated Disney classics such as The Little Mermaid, Tarzan, Hercules, and The Black Cauldron, as well as a host of other films. Jay trained under the legendary Eric Larson, one of Walt Disney’s “Nine Old Men.” Jay has been teaching and mentoring with Animation Mentor for over 12 years, bringing lessons from the greats to the next generation of animators.

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Tuesdays | 8:00 - 9:00 PM*
T. Dan Hoffstedt - mentor 2d animation instructor

Animation Mentor Logo

T. Dan Hofstedt


T. Dan Hofstedt’s resume reads like an all-time great list of animated classics. Seven years at Sullivan-Bluth, sixteen years at Disney, nine years at Warner Bros and four at Sony Imageworks, T. Dan’s career has spanned decades where he has worked on both 2D and 3D projects. His foundation is the classic “actor with a pencil” (or a computer), where no matter what the medium is, the emphasis is on character. You can see his work on 2D animated Disney classics such as Aladdin, The Lion King, Tarzan, and Mulan, as well as TV classics such as the Animaniacs, and the Smurfs.

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Tuesdays | 8:30 - 9:30 AM*

Parts of a Walk Cycle Animation

1-on-1 Feedback from a Studio Pro

During this 6-week workshop, you’ll have live Q&As with your mentor each week, in addition to receiving an assignment designed to build your skills. Plus, your mentor will review and critique each of your assignments and provide you with a video of their feedback so you can improve your work.

Take the Next Step in 2D Animation

Bring your character to life through exciting physical performances and dynamic movement. Make your 2D character walk, run, and dive right into their own adventure. Using a mix of traditional and modern animation workflows, Mentor and longtime Disney Animator Jay Jackson will guide you to success.

2D Animation Student Gallery

Dan Reynolds

Adam Gillespie

Jade Bisht

Adam Gillespie

Anna Van Schaijk

Dan Reynolds

What You’ll Learn in 2D Animation for Beginners

Week 1

Walks and Locomotion

Animating a convincing walk with strong mechanics is an important skill for every animator to master. In this session we’ll look at the core structure of a “vanilla” walk and how to approach blocking out your animation using 2D techniques and workflows in Toon Boom Harmony or Rough Animator.

Week 2

Personality and Character

In this session we’ll look at how to design an appealing character to animate. We’ll apply those concepts to a personality walk and also look at how to animate details like the overlapping motion of hair and clothing.

Week 3

Weight and Momentum

The mechanics, weight, and momentum are critical components of body mechanics. In this session we’ll study and apply these concepts to a character run.

Week 4

Dynamic Movement

In this session we’ll study the body mechanics of jumping and landing. We’ll also look at how to use staging, anticipation, follow through, and overlap to create dynamic and interesting movement.

Week 5

Athletic Movement

This week we’ll dig deeper into more complicated examples of body mechanics. We’ll look at how to apply weight, balance, and exaggeration to create a compelling performance.

Week 6

Review and Recap

You made it! In this final session we’ll complete our discussion of body mechanics and character performance. We’ll put together a reel of your assignments from this workshop and note what’s working well and where things need to be developed more.

Course Requirements for 2D Animation: Walk Cycles & Character Movement

Course Details

LIVE Q&As | Weekly 1-Hour Q&As

ASSIGNMENTS | 5 Animation Exercises

SOFTWARE | Harmony by Toon Boom or Rough Animator (or equivalent digital animation software)

HARDWARE |Meet Minimum Requirements

DRAWING HARDWARE |We recommend that students use a drawing tablet or screen for this workshop

  • Wacom, XP-Pen, Huion, or equivalent are common brands to consider.

AGE | 18 Years or Older

LANGUAGE | Taught in English

Skills You Need Before You Start

This workshop is not graded so that you are comfortable learning at your own pace, but we do ask that our students meet the following requirements:

  • Basic understanding of the principles and workflows of 2D animation, including believable weight, timing, spacing, and arcs
  • Intermediate level of drawing ability is recommended. Students will be drawing full body (though simple) characters in each assignment
  • If you are new to 2D animation, we have a workshop for you! Check out 2D Animation for Beginners.

What You’ll Learn

Pick up your where 2D Animation for Beginners left off. With the fundamental principles under your belt, you can get into more of the fun stuff: making your characters walk, run, jump, and more! In this workshop you will:

  • Learn to animate a believable walk cycle, one of the building blocks of character animation
  • Bring personality to your walk to create memorable characters
  • Learn to craft clear drawings in sequence, so that each shot flows into the next and your work remains clear to the audience
  • Apply the principles of animation to full body characters and performances
  • Incorporate weight and momentum into dynamic character runs
  • Use body mechanics principles to animate exciting, athletic movement like climbing, jumping, and dancing
  • Gain intermediate-level skills with digital tools and software, like Toon Boom Harmony or Rough Animator

FAQ for 2D Animation for Beginners

What is 2D animation?

2D animation is a classic animation style where objects are animated in two-dimensional space, meaning they only have width and height.

How is 2D animation different from 3D animation?

The major difference between 2D and 3D animation is the lack of depth. When something is not visible in a 2D it doesn’t exist. In 3D every object is always present even when it is behind something. This is something that 3D animators always have to keep in mind.

What are traditional animation techniques?

In technical terms, traditional animation uses a 2D format and is created at 24 frames per second. In terms of drawing style, traditional animation closely follows the 12 Basic Principles of Animation, which were created by some of the animation pioneers at Disney. We have a whole series on the 12 Principles of Animation on our blog.

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