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The animation tools have been greatly enhanced in Flash CS4, and Todd Perkins teaches their advanced capabilities in Flash CS4 Professional Tools for Character Animation. He shows how to master the new Motion Tween model and the Motion Editor to control easing and effects such as Squash and Stretch. He demonstrates how to use the new 3D tools to add rotation, perspective shadows, and layered animations. Complex interactive animations and walk cycles are created without a line of code using bone systems. Todd also demonstrates the power of advanced masking, sound effect syncing, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
When you are creating a walk cycle, it's essential that you animate the other parts of the character's body. So you need to animate the character's arms kind of swinging back and forth, and the character's body may be bouncing up and down. So we'll look at how that works in this movie. If you are following along, go ahead and open up Animating_Body.fla from the Chapter 6 folder. If you don't have the Exercise Files, you will just need an armature to work with. So I am going to double click the monster on the Stage to enter its Timeline. Then I am going to double click the character's arm to enter its Timeline.
If you test the movie you will notice that there is no animation for the arm at this point. So what we will do is create a bone system to animate the arm and have it swing back and forth. So these are all separate movie clips. We have the back of the arm, the forearm, and then the front of the arm with the secret plans there. So I'll use the Bone tool to create a bone system. I will click and drag from the shoulder to the elbow and then click and drag from the elbow to the wrist. Notice that that hand and secret plans come up in front of everything when I do that. So I'll need to select that hand and then push it back using Command+Down on the Mac or Ctrl+Down on the PC. So I will just push it a few times to push it behind everything. Now I am going to create the animation.
The easiest way to do this is to have a pose where the hands are in front and have a pose where the hands are in back. So since I want this animation to loop, I am going to go to frame 40. I am going to place a pose here that is the same as the initial pose. So I am going to right-click at frame 40 then choose Insert Pose. So now I have keyframe poses at start and end frame so that I can ensure that this is going to loop properly. I will go to frame 20 and I will define the pose for the arm swinging back. So I am going to select my bone system and swing it back a little bit. You can choose how you want to swing it here. I am just going to keep it pretty simple.
Now I will test the movie and preview the animation. The animation looks good, so I will close the movie. Remember that you can also apply easing if you want to. Let's say I go to the first frame, the animation, and select that first keyframe. I can adjust the strength of my easing to -100 and then change the Type to Simple (Slow) and do the same thing at frame 20. So I go to frame 20, adjust the strength to -100, change the Type to Simple (Slow), and now I have easing in my animation. So I will test the movie again to preview the easing.
There is a little bit of easing in our animation. So make sure whenever you create a walk cycle, to look at the different parts of the character's body and make sure to animate them. I am going to show you one last thing here, and that is the body animation. I made the character's body bounce up and down as the character walks to add a little bit more weight and motion to the animation. So if you scrub the playhead, you will notice that the body moves up and down along with the legs. That's just actually a simple motion tween. I am just going to double click the body and show you how that works. The body moves down and then moves up and then drops down pretty quickly.
Just using this simple animation, you can add more life to your characters. Again, whenever you create a character animation, go through each of the parts of the character, like its arms and head, body etc., and make sure those are animating as well to emphasize the movement in the walk cycle.
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