Basic Animation Questions

I’ve just started animating and rigging characters and have I have some problems. First, when creating scenes how do you go about making landscape and backgrounds etc? Do you simply create a plane, scale it, then add some grass partciles? I’ve tried doing this, but I have to add so many particles due to the size of the plane it slows down blender. Second, I’ve having problems with timing actions during my animation. Due to things such as particles my animation appears much slower than it does when it’s finally rendered, making the animation faster than I want. Is there anyway to somehow preview your animation before you try and render it?

Another question I have is actually making my character move.Whenever I make walkcycles I just have the movemets of the limbs, but the character doesn’t actually go anywhere. How do you make the character move and walk along paths. I’ve been looking at some tutorials but I can’t seem to find any good source that describes all the basic steps and setups.

To make the grass easier to work with, only show a small percentage of the particles in the 3D window (I know there used to be an option, not sure about 2.46), and create a duplicate plane for animation purposes which has no grass. That way, you can move the grass to a separate layer, so blender will run faster and you can use the particle-less plane as the ground. Also, I would very carefully delete any faces which the camera doesn’t see during the animation, to reduce the amount of particles (or make the grass denser).

You can do a GL render (a render from the 3D View) of your animatin to preview it.
When you press ALT while clicking the “Render View” icon in the header of your 3D View it will render out the animatin as seen in this 3D View. Settings are taken from the animation panel in render context (F10)

I also seem to have another problem, when creating my rig I could never get the x mirroring extruding to work right. I tried rotating my mesh and rig but it never worked. Now that I’m trying to animate it I have major problems. When trying to make the rig and mesh follow a path it walks along the wrong axis and I can’t get it to face the right direction with the Anim setting buttons.