In Gamasutra's latest feature
, animator Cathy Feraday Miller outlines a process for animating four-legged creatures, offering references and tips on how to capture their distinctive movements.
There's one important thing to note, she writes: "most quadrupeds -- be they dogs, cats, horses or rhinoceroses -- follow the same footfall pattern."
This wisdom comes from Eadweard Muybridge, who famously photographed animals in the 1800s and published Animal Locomotion, a book that is still essential to understanding how animals move, Feraday Miller writes.
"The four speeds of movement, or the four 'gaits,'" that animals travel in, she writes, "are shared amongst most four-legged animals. Almost every quadruped walks, trots, canters and gallops, and their legs move in the same manner when they do it."
"To save time, you could animate a 'vanilla' gait cycle for each gait with the leg movements blocked in on keys and breakdowns only and the body and head having the rough up-and-down motion laid in on those keys. If using a universal rig, this file could then be exported onto any beast (with minimal adjustments, depending on the disparities of beast shape) and be used as a starting point for the animations," Feraday Miller writes.
The full feature goes into the nitty-gritty of the animation process, including screenshots, videos, and diagrams to help you master the technique. It's live now on Gamasutra