Complicated walk cycle -IK or Transform tool?


I have been busy creating a walk cycle for a cartoon spider character- with 8 legs of course- trying different techniques like Inverse Kinematics, the transform tool or a combination of the two.

The idea is to make it walk like a crab, so sideways. However, when using IK after the first few steps, the character sort of collapses. When using constraints like ‘hold orientation’ and the Y-axis constraint, it completely freezes after the first few frames, loosing all flexibility.

When using the transform tool only, although there is much more control on the body parts, the movements turn out to be too even, too mechanical. Adjusting the velocity helps a little bit, but not enough.
The last way I tried was by using both IK and transform tools, but it still was hard to get it right.

Also, what is the best way to get a walk cycle end like the beginning, so that the cycle is complete?

Could anyone give me advice on how to go about this? The fact that the character has 8 legs makes me go crazy :-\

Thanks for helping me out.


Animating an insect with 8 legs convincingly I guess, is quite a challenge…
I would use IK and “single bone-mode” (hold down the option-key when moving a bone).
(some reference footage (YouTube) might be helpful)…
Otherwise, use any tool you feel comfortable with…

Are you using a Peg for the forward movement…?
Or are you using the Paste Special “Offset Keyframes” feature…?
(If so, make sure, that the first keyframe of your body-parts matches exactly the last one)

If you like, here is a very simple test with a “Weta” using Offset Keyframes…
The cycle has just 3 keyframes (1-10-20)


Hi Nolan,

Thank you for giving such an extensive answer, even illustrated with a ‘weta test’! I visited your website to see more of your work, great!

What I did wrong at first was that I put too much constraint on the feet (it is not a real insect but a cartoon insect), so my character eventually got ‘stuck’ and couldn’t move forward. In the end, I used the IK tool, all chain and simple chain modes, and sometimes the transform tool to adjust the body parts.

I am using a peg for the forward movement, and did not know about the ‘offset keyframes’ feature. That feature makes it a lot faster. Making the body parts of the first key-frame matching the last, was quite a job. To do this, I used the ‘onion skin’, but as my character is a ‘daddy longlegs spider’, the legs are moving ad random, which makes it even harder to get it right. Finally, I managed to :). But maybe there is an easier/faster way to this?

Thanks again!


Open the hierarchy in the timeline and copy and paste all leg-positions (or else)
from the first key-frame to the last key-frame in the cycle…
Then check “Offset Keyframes” and choose your cycles.