Flash Professional CS5: Character Animation
Illustration by Petra Stefankova

Animating the character's head movements


Flash Professional CS5: Character Animation

with Dermot O' Connor

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Video: Animating the character's head movements

So, we've animated the basic walk cycle and now it's time to add a couple of little details to the head symbol to make it look like it's a part of the action. So let's open up our previous saved file, number 16, and go into our symbol, and actually let's look at it from the outside first. As you can see, the hair should be moving around a little bit, reacting to the motion and the jolt of impact and such. So, it looks like quite what it is, a single static symbol.
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  1. 3m 25s
    1. Welcome
      1m 9s
    2. Using the exercise files
    3. Prerequisites
      1m 37s
  2. 34m 58s
    1. Creating Flash-friendly character design
      4m 57s
    2. Animation rendering: SWF or AVI
      2m 24s
    3. Understanding line tool drawbacks when animating
      7m 7s
    4. Using uniform project scales in Flash
      3m 40s
    5. Finding helpful extensions for Flash
      2m 46s
    6. Using commands and keyboard shortcuts
      9m 53s
    7. Setting up your workspaces
      4m 11s
  3. 1h 35m
    1. Understanding character rigging
      2m 0s
    2. Exploring underlying structure in character rigging
      4m 27s
    3. Vectorizing the character body
      6m 22s
    4. Outlining colors in an animated character
      6m 15s
    5. Vectorizing the hands
      6m 43s
    6. Vectorizing the head
      4m 47s
    7. Outlining the head
      8m 20s
    8. Adding finishing touches with hair
      2m 11s
    9. Colorizing the character head
      7m 28s
    10. Colorizing the body
      5m 33s
    11. Applying gradients
      6m 18s
    12. Symbolizing and pivoting the body parts
      10m 47s
    13. Pivoting the head
      4m 42s
    14. Rigging the mouth
      10m 49s
    15. Rigging the eye
      8m 33s
  4. 52m 22s
    1. Tween types: Shape vs. motion
      5m 41s
    2. Combining motion and shape tweening
      4m 31s
    3. Animating an eye blink using shape tweening
      10m 2s
    4. Rigging a mouth in Flash for dialogue and expressions
      5m 30s
    5. Creating a D mouth
      12m 29s
    6. Creating an F mouth
      6m 58s
    7. Getting the polished look
      7m 11s
  5. 1h 2m
    1. Overview of the head turn
      2m 13s
    2. Preparing the rig
      8m 15s
    3. Posing the rig
      7m 17s
    4. Animating the head movement
      11m 5s
    5. Animating the body movement
      12m 9s
    6. Animating the head turn
      11m 28s
    7. Adding finesse to the head turn
      9m 34s
  6. 2h 44m
    1. Introducing the walk
      1m 5s
    2. Creating a profile view
      8m 30s
    3. Creating the head in profile
      10m 10s
    4. Creating the hand
      6m 57s
    5. Creating hand symbols
      8m 32s
    6. Reviewing the walk
      3m 6s
    7. Prepping the walk
      8m 33s
    8. Setting up the contact poses
      6m 45s
    9. Creating secondary contact poses
      9m 38s
    10. Finishing up the contact poses
      6m 48s
    11. Creating the passing poses
      9m 39s
    12. Finishing the passing pose
      5m 56s
    13. Animating the recoil position
      10m 9s
    14. Animating the high point of the walk
      9m 24s
    15. Adding in-betweens
      8m 31s
    16. Rigging the shoes
      8m 27s
    17. Animating the shoes
      11m 58s
    18. Animating the character's head movements
      8m 29s
    19. Fine-tuning the animation
      9m 0s
    20. Nesting the hand symbols
      8m 39s
    21. Repositioning the walk
      4m 11s
  7. 1h 32m
    1. Introducing the walk in place
      1m 30s
    2. Setting up contact poses
      10m 4s
    3. Creating the passing poses
      7m 14s
    4. Creating the recoil positions
      8m 11s
    5. Animating the head's high point
      4m 9s
    6. Tweening the legs
      5m 11s
    7. Tweening the arms
      10m 27s
    8. Setting the placement of the foot
      9m 9s
    9. Animating the shoes
      7m 52s
    10. Animating the hair
      6m 9s
    11. Creating secondary hand actions
      8m 48s
    12. Animating the torso
      6m 27s
    13. Repositioning the walk
      7m 17s
  8. 54m 9s
    1. Understanding dialogue
    2. Using the A-F system of six set mouth shapes
      4m 23s
    3. Animating dialogue using the mouth rig
      14m 30s
    4. Integrating the dialogue with the head turn
      5m 35s
    5. Animating the jaw
      6m 59s
    6. Creating an angry dialogue mouth
      7m 43s
    7. Finishing the angry dialogue mouth
      6m 38s
    8. Integrating acting techniques
      1m 51s
    9. Tips on facial expressions
      5m 41s
  9. 36s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course Flash Professional CS5: Character Animation
9h 19m Intermediate Nov 17, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In Flash Professional CS5: Character Animation, Dermot O' Connor explains the process of character animation in Flash, using nested symbols and motion and shape tweening to create believable characters. The course covers the process from start to finish, from rigging a character to creating a walk cycle animation. Along the way, Dermot demonstrates techniques such as animating eye blinks, head turns, and mouth movements during dialogue. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Rendering in SWF or AVI
  • Creating vectors for the the character body
  • Coloring the body
  • Rigging a mouth in Flash
  • Posing the rig
  • Animating head and body movement
  • Creating hands
  • Understanding facial expressions
  • Making the contact poses
  • Creating passing poses
  • Animating in-betweens
3D + Animation Web
Flash Professional
Dermot O' Connor

Animating the character's head movements

So, we've animated the basic walk cycle and now it's time to add a couple of little details to the head symbol to make it look like it's a part of the action. So let's open up our previous saved file, number 16, and go into our symbol, and actually let's look at it from the outside first. As you can see, the hair should be moving around a little bit, reacting to the motion and the jolt of impact and such. So, it looks like quite what it is, a single static symbol.

So, let's find the places where we think it should move and definitely on this recoil, you'll expect here, as the body is moving down, the hair should be catching the air and dragging up a little bit. So let's go into this. We're using the frameEDIT in command. Extremely useful and I'll be using that a lot. So let's zoom into this. This is our hair upper layer. This is the one we'll use. Actually one where that's quicker, you might find this, is a locked layer and you just keyframe all the major positions on this Timeline, and it's a symbol so we'll motion tween these.

So, on this frame, I am making sure snap is off because I just want to make fine movements. I might drag it back a bit and maybe skew it. I find skewing is very useful for this. Now, we want to make sure with that, bear in mind, that if we bring this up too much, it will reveal some of the potential problems with the underlying hair level. So let's go into this part and just pull thar forward a little bit. You can modify, in some small instances like that, if this is a personal project and nobody else is using this, asset of artwork, then making a change like that is very unlikely to cause any kind of problems.

If you are in a big production where other people might be using the same rig and sharing assets with you, it could be a huge problem. So, these kinds of changes to the rig do depend on your context and your work environment. So, I would be very careful. If it's your project, then you can pretty much be freewheeling with it. Do be cognizant of the fact that if you are sharing these with friends and coworkers, you might want to just duplicate a symbol before you make a change, give it a name of your own. So if somebody pulls in your walk cycle, they won't be corrupting an existing symbol in their library.

So, anything we do on one recoil, the beauty of doing that, is just a simple case of holding down the Alt or the Option key and dragging your keyframe to the opposite. Now, let's see what that little change has done. It might not be too noticeable. Let's look at that from a distance. You can see there's some kind of movement there. Let's look at it frame by frame. Quite subtle, but we can certainly accentuate it because on the move to the passing position, the opposite should happen. That little forelock of hair should drag down. So let's see what we can get away within here.

That'll give a much stronger transition. So again, hold down your Alt or Option key, copy that over. Now let's look at it. Again, let's go into slow motion, we'll go frame-by-frame, and drag, and now it's pulling down. So, on the way up, we can actually increase the drag a bit further. So for example, we have the hair at the maximum drag at this point.

There is no reason to why we couldn't push it even further, maybe all the way to the high point. Let's just try it and see what happens. We can always change back. That's better. It's a much softer feeling now. Changing the timing also changes the feel of the material. If you made the hair snappier, it'll be like he has got some crazy gel in it or it would make it feel it more like a wire. The slower these movements, the fuller, more like a soft puffed-out texture you're seeing or feeling on the hair.

Same thing goes for any other property. So just be aware that that timing of your object does affect the perception of the material. But in this case certainly, the slower movement really looks nice. It's subtle but it's there. We could add a few more little tiny details. I am not sure how well they'll read, but let's give them a go. So, this area may be tweenable at the hair at the back of the head. Let me un-padlock this. Now, you may remember we made this thing into a symbol and it's got everything we've done so far in this course.

It should have just a small number of points. So this thing should be able to shape tween. It won't be able to shape tween here. So, for simplicity's sake, I am going to break it apart, Ctrl+B. So now we should be able to shape tween it, and let's drop some keys in. We get the same timing I think as on the upper hair, and let's shape tween all of these. I am now using my commands for shape tweening, which are on the numeric keypad. So, let's go through this frame-by-frame and see. So, on this, you might be able to pull that hair up a little, and on this frame, let's see if we can drag it in slightly.

Yeah, and it's shape tweening very nicely. Again it's a subtle thing. It may not make too much of a difference, but it's certainly a lot better than having a big stiff static shape, and it also shows you how you can take a symbol in your Timeline that is designed to be motion tweened and sometimes suddenly just break in apart, and it can become a shape tweened object on the same Timeline. You can have it motion tweened for apart, then break it apart. Shape tween this for another few frames.

One more little thing we'd maybe like to do here, and I wouldn't go crazy with this because it might look odd, but certainly the head is tilting very much on this high point and it would be nice if we can do something with the eyebrows. So let's do that and I am going to very conservative again and just do it on the same timing as the rest. So from here, this is the recoil and this is the high point. So we are going to shape tween from here to here, and from here to here, and just move the eyebrows up a little. A few clicks with the arrow keys.

Let's see if that works. Well, I made a change there without keying. This eyebrow should be keyed as well if we are going to animate that. Let's drop them in. Set them to shape tween, okay. So, let's move up again and we should go in a little closer. This is a very subtle movement. So, when he is in his up position, he will do this. And actually he'll do the same thing on the other one.

So hold down Alt or Option and just copy that over here. Oops! There we go. So let's see if that's even readable. I think it does, very slightly, and we can make an even more subtle change. Again, I wouldn't go nuts with this because we're going to be making him walk over and over. So it might be eye-catching. All I want is this to look like his head is tilting back up a little bit as he walks. So let's just leave it at this and then copy anything you do him on step of the walk onto the other. I am feeling it. I don't know about you but I am certainly detecting that.

I don't know if I would notice that if I was looking at this cold, and a lot of times these effects are subconscious. Nobody is going to go "Wow, did you see that crazy movement on the eyebrow," but it'll certainly give a feeling that we're looking at something that's a little bit more than just a flat symbol that's been shape tweened in a very boring way across the screen. So, this is great. I am going to save this, and when we come back we will do a little beauty pass over the entire walk. Take a little closer look at some of the other parts of the body and make sure that everything is nailed down.

Let's save this and we'll move on to the next.

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