Female Walk Cycle

How to Animate your 1st Charming Female Walk Cycle in Blender

You should try this workflow for creating a female walk cycle in Blender. This could be a recap if you have seen the video, or maybe you just like to read.

So enjoy the post or watch the video, whatever you feel comfortable with.


There are countless ways to walk, female walks are slightly different from male walks. This is your first distinction, however, character and environment play a huge part in the details of a walk creating a wide variety of female walk cycles. 

If this is your first walk cycle, don’t overcomplicate things. Keep it simple, I know I hated to hear that too. Of course, you can add some characteristic accents in the walk, be creative, but make sure to keep it bite-sized so you can focus on the principles of an excellent female walk cycle.

As always, it’s good to find some reference, shoot it yourself or thumbnail out your walk cycle. This will help you get a feel for the timing of the walk. 

So now let’s go into Blender and set the timeline length for this exercise. For this exercise 33 frames were used, where 1 and 33 would be the same pose, creating a cycle. 

The timing I use is as follows:

17Contact (reversed)
33Contact (same as 1)

In Blender, You should get rid of every distraction first so we can focus on the main elements of the animation, the legs, and the core of the female character.

What you do, is turn off the Rig controls you don’t need. On top of this, You make a vertex group for the head and one for the arms. These vertex groups are used in the mask modifier to hide parts of the mesh.

The first leg key poses.

As stated before, you should start your animation process with the core, so the chest, hip, and legs. Build your female walk cycle piece by piece from the bottom up.

At frame 1 you create the first contact pose, the pose where the feet first make contact with the ground. This is one of the key poses for a female walk cycle or every walk cycle.

The key poses are called, Contact, Down, Passing, and Up. In a cycle, you’ll return to the first key pose in the set. You could start at any key pose you like of course.

Contact pose

First thing is to space out the two feet front to back. A good rule of thumb here is that the feet are usually two and a half feet apart, which in this case is a bit much because the shoes are quite exaggerated in size. So I brought it back slightly, so in this case, it’s maybe one and a half feet apart. 

In the front view, place the legs more or less in front of each other. To add some sassiness or flair rotate the feet outwards.

With the legs in step position, you lower the hip controller so that the legs are a bit more bent instead of so overstretched.

Use the heel roll controller for the back leg and we need to lift the foot of the leading leg as well. Don’t forget to set your keyframes for these properties as well.

At this stage, you should just worry about the up and down motion of the hip and the foot placement for the female walk cycle.

Down pose

From the contact pose, the down pose is relatively straightforward to create.

Let’s start by firmly placing the leading foot on the ground, by resetting the rotation of the foot controllers to 0. 

On the other side, the back leg should be almost off the ground, with just a slight touch of the toe on the ground.

The weight of the body comes down with this step and reaches its lowest point. This means that the hip controller needs to come down. This can be a very subtle change on the Z axis because a female walk can be a very light tread.

Passing pose

This is an interesting pose, it seems straightforward, yet there are a lot of subtle things happening.

The passing point is the moment the back leg is about the pass the leading leg. The back leg is now fully off the ground, which means that the weight is fully on the leading leg.

For this reason, the leading leg pushes up to the ground lifting the body. (Read, lift the hip controller) 

In this pose, weight transference is the key. The moment your walk cycle is up on 1 leg, you should get an internal notification saying “center of gravity”. (Sometimes referred to as COG)

Make sure that the COG, from the side view, is in a straight line above the ankle. This is important for your walk cycle so it seems to be in balance.

Up pose

Following the passing point trajectory, this will be the highest point of the female walk cycle.

The leg that came forward is now preparing to step down. With a slight bend of the leg and a fairly straight foot hanging mid-air.

The standing leg still pushes off the ground, you can experiment with the heel roll to slightly lift it up off the ground.


To quickly add the other sides’ key poses, you can copy the keyframe set and mirror paste (ctrl + shift + V) the pose on the reversed contact/down/passing/up pose.

We can always break symmetry later, remember we’re building the animation piece by piece.

At this point, It’s recommended to have your animation in stepped mode. In Blender, this is called “constant interpolation”. Now you can focus on the key poses without worrying about the in-betweens just yet.

If you playback the animation now, it should look a little like this.

Hip posing

The center of gravity for humans is around their pelvis level, so naturally, the hip controller is used to distribute the weight properly. 

For example, in front view, the hips should move to the side of the leading leg, don’t be afraid to move the hip controller passed the leg. We can reel that back later.

The hip rotation is a fun one to animate in a female walk cycle, cause this is where you can demonstrate some characteristic differences with male walk cycles.

The hip rotates into the leading leg following the leg back while the other leg steps forward. In most rigs, this hip rotation is done using the Z rotation channel. You can best visualize this from a higher angle by looking down on the model.

The Y-axis, or the hips coming up sideways, follows a slightly different pattern. The hips rotate downward into the leading leg.

The biggest rotational switch occurs going from the down pose directly into the passing pose, where the rotation almost flips due to the weight shift. 

The following frames up until the next down pose are easing out of this extreme hip rotation, back to relatively a neutral hip pose.

Experiment with the timing, cause this is where you give your female walk cycle that sassy feeling. For example, you could make the up pose the extreme for this rotational switch, meaning you have more frames to transition. This will create a softer weight shift, and ultimately a less contrasting hip rotation in your walk cycle.

Chest posing

As said, you’re going to move up through the body and start animating the chest.

Let’s set a keyframe for this chest controller on the rotation and the location channel.

You could also include one chest controller lower in the spine, just to get a bit more fluidity and a feel that they are chained. To maintain a certain level of looseness in the character.

Next up you can start creating a similar arc as we did for the hips. For this, I like to switch quite a lot between the dope sheet and the graph editor.

You just should use whatever you feel comfortable with.

An easy way to block the chest movement is to copy the hip movement first. The up and down motion follows the same timing. 

The rotation of the chest should be opposing the rotation of the hips. So where the rotation of the Z axis of the hip is moving toward the leading leg, the chest is moving in the opposite direction.

Female Walk Cycle chest vs hip

Because everything in the body is connected, movement tends to follow a part that is leading. This results in overlap and drag, these are two animation terms you’ll hear quite a lot, you can learn more about them here. 

To create this in your female walk cycle, you should at some stage of your animation process offset the location and or rotation keys from hip to stomach and stomach to chest. This will help the fluidity of your character.

If the chest feels too loose from the hip, bring back the keyframes. You should experiment with this, don’t settle for the first thing that looks good. 

The aim of the game is to create a realistic, yet stylized walk cycle.

Spline animation and refinements

The dreaded term, splining, aka the moment all decent animations go to waste. (Spline Interpolation in Blender)

It doesn’t have to be a painful switch, make sure that you have enough keyframes in your blocking, some people like to make a blocking plus. Depending on the action, and complexity your animation will need more keyframes than others.

For a walk cycle, the endings of your curve are usually not eased, because they continue on the other side again. Leaving this could create some stutters in our animation, however small they might be.

Sometimes it’s okay to delete a keyframe. Since it might make it more difficult to work the curve into the desired shape. Too many keys good disrupt the flow of a curve, be extremely intently when adding or deleting keys to a curve.

The moment the feet make full contact with the floor, the interpolation should switch to linear. A walk cycle is animated standing in the same place, sort of like on a treadmill. However this is the leg you stand on, and when walking this can’t accelerate.

Also, the foot snaps to the ground almost instantly after making first contact. So instead of waiting to hit the down pose, animate in 1 of the 2 next frames the foot flattening out on the ground.

A last task on the feet comes in the form of dragging the toes, you can be as subtle with this as you like. 

The point is to disconnect the foot and the toe, so they don’t feel like one rigid block.

Knee pops are quite common in rigs, not all characters are proportioned equally, so steps might interrupt the natural arc of the knee. The knee makes sort of an 8 arc. What you could do is use the tweak control on the Rigify rig to manually adjust the arc. To help visualize this, you can use motion paths from the armature tab.

Arm animation

Let’s now continue with the arms.

You want to check the role of the bones, which means which way are they orientated and what axis will cause you the least gimbal lock.

Usually, this rig is set to quaternion which you can use obviously, but it’s easier, at least that’s what I think, to use an XYZ Euler setting.

This will be easier to clean up in the graph editor.

The contact poses for the arm is the opposing movement of the legs.

You could move the shoulder a bit forward too, rotating a bit more in with the body, and then just make every arm part swing forward.

Yeah, normally you would just do the same thing on the other side as well.

But then, of course, flipping the motion, we’re not going to do that today.

We’ve seen that before, we know how to copy and mirror paste now. Let’s do something new.

You need to know the hip bone’s exact name because you want to parent the hand controller to the hip.

Firstly though, switch the arm from FK to IK. Now we don’t have to counter-animate so much, since the hand just sticks to the hip.

Move the hand in place, then move the fingers to wrap around the hip and use the swivel controller to animate her elbow.

You don’t have to follow this tutorial one-on-one. You could just apply the principles shown for the regular arm motion.

Head animation

And now onto the last bit of this animation, you bring back the head and everything that is attached to it. 

So the hair, the eyes, and everything else.

So what sometimes could be helpful to do, if you can’t figure out how to get the right overlap, is to copy one on one the up and down motion of, say, the chest, for example, Then you grab up all the keyframes and you move them.

To create a nice offset down the spine we can move these keys by 5 frames. This all depends on whatever frames you like, so you should try out different stuff.

Since this is a cycle, You’ll go to the last frame keyframe available. You set a key, if not there already, then grab this keyframe, move back to the first frame, and place it right there.

Secondary animation

Breath life into your animation with secondary animations. Try and find different loop cycles for these where you can, this will make the a lot smoother and more fluid.

For example, the breasts could be animated.

You can be as subtle as you like, you can start with big movements and use the graph editor to tone the animation down. This Lalaloopsy-inspired character is very stylized, so an exaggerated animation would be nice.

Use the motion trails to track the arc. To create a circular motion, using both translation and rotation.

Translate them slightly up and down. Then on top animate the rotation for the breasts going up and down and left to right. Again, the amount of bounce is up to your style of animation, character model, etc.

In this tutorial, the hair wasn’t animated, but you can animate the hair too if you like.

Some rigs have controls to animate individual hair strands or entire lumps of hair. Then, some rigs don’t, but don’t let that stop you!

You could use shape keys to animate the hair by keyframing the value. You might even add some bones to the rig yourself. It’s always handy to know how to do this.

Lastly, if you want, to give your character a natural expression, you could animate some eye darts if this makes sense in the cycle you’re animating.

Usually, rigs come with this very intense stare, soften that expression up, even if it’s a minute change.

You did it!

So that’s it for your first female walk cycle! Let me know in the comments if you learned something and of course, if you have questions.

For now, just stay creative, till next time.