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All animators must learn to walk before they can run. In 2D Character Animation, industry expert George Maestri teaches the basic principles every animator must know to build a foundation for more complex work. These principles are relevant regardless of software used or animation style. George explains how good animation depends on a firm knowledge of the laws of motion, which inform the principles of animation. He teaches the basics of creating characters, squash and stretch, pose-to-pose animation, walking and running, track reading, and dialogue animation. He also shows how to use After Effects and Flash to apply the tools learned in the course. Exercise files accompany this course.
Let's take a look how to set up another character and this time, we're going to set her up in Flash. I have this woman character here. Now, we're starting in Illustrator so I can show you the workflow from Illustrator to Flash. What I've done is I've set this character up very similarly to how I set up the bear in Photoshop, in that I have individual layers for all of the different parts. These layers are labeled so that I know what they are. Once I have these layers and I can just import those into Flash, and the layers will come right up and then I can start arranging things in Flash.
So let's go ahead and go over to Flash and we're just going to go ahead and create a new document and just do File > Import. I'm going to Import to Stage and then I'm just going to select this file called Woman and hit Open. Now all I need to do is make sure everything is checked. I make sure I have Convert layers to Flash layers checked and I make sure that I have Place objects at original position. Then I go ahead and hit OK. Now when this comes in from Illustrator, you'll see what happens is that every layer in Illustrator becomes a layer on the Timeline in Flash.
Now this can be good, because it's an easy way to select and organize things, but the best way to animate in Flash is to use symbols and also to reduce the amount of layering. So let me show you how to do this. Let's go ahead and start with the head. Now we have all of these different layers here on the head. In fact, let me go ahead and readjust this here so we can see all of these at once. So I'm going to go ahead and take the hair, the hand and the hair front. I'm going to take all of these, turn those into a symbol.
So I'm just going to go ahead and hit F8, and that creates the symbol. I'm just going to call that Head. Now this symbol has actually been pulled from three different layers. So when I create it, notice what happens is that this Head layer is going to kind of pop up to the front. In fact, I think what it does is that actually pops up to this Hair_Front. What I can do now is just go ahead and delete this and reinsert it. So I'm going to delete this Hair_Front. In fact, delete the layer, go back down to this one here I have called Head, make sure that's highlighted, and then just pull this symbol in and rearrange it.
So now I have all of my head on one layer, which is great. Now, this way of doing it actually creates a layer for the hair and the head. All of the objects that are on the head, such as the nose, the eyes, the pupil and so on, are separate. So what we have to do is in order to move, for example, the head, I just have to select everything and then move it. Now, another way to do this is to make what's called a nested symbol. So let's go ahead and just select all of these and I'm going to go ahead and make another symbol.
This symbol is going to be called Head_All. What this has, as you can see here in the description, the eyes, the nose, the mouth and everything. So what I can do is actually delete that original symbol and again, just go back down to Head layer and drop in this Head_All. So now I have a head where I can just animate it. It's much easier to animate this than it would be to animate individual objects. So, for example, if I wanted to, I could remove the pivot position here and then just animate the head.
Now, if I wanted to animate something within the head, such as the eyes or the mouth, I have to double-click on this and go into the symbol. Now, when you go into a symbol in Flash, what you do is you get an additional secondary timeline, right here, which has its own layer. So, for example, I could create another layer for the eyes or the mouth. So, for example, I could do Insert Layer here and I could take the mouth and I could cut it just using the standard Cut function, and then just paste it back in.
Now I have the mouth on a separate layer. But when I double-click outside of this, you can see it all goes back to this original composition. So, what we have here is what is called nested symbol. So you have a symbol inside of a symbol, inside of a symbol, which is kind of like a hierarchy. You can see it's operationally a little bit different, because they each have their own timeline. So when I go into this symbol, again I've got this different timeline. Now, we can do the same for just about anything, such as the arms, the legs, really any part of the character.
In fact, I have one that's already set up, and let me just show you how that works. So we're going to go ahead and open a file. I have a file here called Woman. This has a much simpler layering and a lot of nested composition. So we can just go through how it's ultimately going to be set up. Now what I have is I have a separate layer for each arm. So, for example, if you select the left arm, you'll see I have three different symbols. So I have the hand, the forearm and the upper arm.
You'll notice here I also have these symbols here. I have the forearm, the upper arm and the head as well. For example, within this head, I've got a number of different things within this layer. So this makes it much easier to animate. So if I wanted to bend the arm, I could actually select all of these symbols here. Then if I wanted to, I could just select the Multiple Transform tool here and then just rotate the entire arm. But if I wanted to rotate just a little bit of that arm, again, I can just select this and rotate it as well.
So this makes it almost like a hybrid of nested symbols and layers. You've got layers for each individual part, but you also have within those nested symbols. So this is a good kind of way to organize your scenes within Flash.
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