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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.
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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