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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, let's go to our Exercise Files. And we'll open character_head_turn_04. We're ready to continue with the remaining three keyframes. We have the first one set up and by no means is this final, but this is our blocking pass. This is going to be our first move in big strokes through the scene. So let's click on there, enter this, and let's try to maximize this. Those are our thumbnails, and these are our guides to the positions of keys 1, 2, 3, and 4.
So, this is key number 1, which we're going to hold until here. Couple of things right now that might be bothersome. The mouth is moving. Well, that's because it's using our standard-- Even though it's a duplicate, it's still using our standard six shapes. So one thing I like to do is select these, hold down Alt or Option and drag that and just pull them off, pull all the animating elements off, and switch off tweening. So now we have a non-distracting mouth and it still has all the nested different mouth shapes.
So, if you want to apply these during this head turn, we can still do that. I'd like to keep the eye blink at the beginning. I think that's kind of nice. It's like his brain is working, something's going on to his side out here. So let's throw down a keyframe and on this one here this will be the same as number 2. So, he'll still be facing screen left. So let's put a key here. And by this point, we should be-- Let's put that hand back into color mode. So, by this point, we're going to want to see the head facing the other direction and then settling into there.
All I will do next is now that we've had some broad idea about the direction our character will face, let's go in to the head and match that up so that we have a head turn happening here. It'll make the overall body action much more easy to see. This is the frame here. If you look at the sequence here, it's frame 16. So I'm going to click on that, and this is where our extension frameEdit comes in very handy, which we installed earlier. frameEdit is fantastic. So, if I select, for example, this frame and click on it, I enter at exactly that frame.
Now, that's the whole reason for installing that extension. So, this is the frame that we want to work in to twist the head back to the original direction. So, I'm going to keyframe this as the last one, keyframe this as the one that will be facing the other the other way, and let's just select all of these, Modify > Transform > Flip Horizontal, and that's again, that's offsetting maybe a little bit. I'm not sure. So you also have a look. It's pretty close. So now, when we look at the outer scene, that's where the head turn's going to happen.
I'm not going to worry too much about these joins and things because they are-- The body position's going to be quite different. So my priority right now will be to construct the end pose, basically the opposite of this one, and don't worry too much about the rest of the dirty work of joining all these things up. It can wait for now. So, this is the pose we want to create, and don't forget. He'll be a little bit surprised. He's seeing something, he's looking over. he's reacted.
Now, the other thing you'll find, I like to have a larger area available. So, I'm going to switch workspaces to Lynda_Character_Animation_2. Maybe move the Library over to here, and let's move these thumbnails, stack them over the character. So, maybe lean the character more to the right. As we can see here, he's like "hmm?" and then down, overshoot, settle.
So I think his center of mass should move. So I'm using Shift key and the numeric keypads and hold down Alt/Option to really skew these legs over. The beauty of using the Shift with the numeric keypad is they move things in fixed increments, so it's easier to keep your points aligned. So, we're going to be starting from this point, ending in that one. Great! So, the next thing we do is-- it's a matter of preference really for me, but I would maybe work into the anticipation first.
So let's see what happens if we bring the character down. Let's just click one, let's see start with the lower torso, bring it down by one click, bring the body down by one, the arms as well, the hands. Again, I'm going to make this reasonably fast and dirty. The big danger I found when I work in animating in Flash is over thinking. I tend to be very analytical and sometimes that can be a dangerous attribute. Sometimes it's best to just get going and start moving things and see what happens. Not always, but there are dangers in being too procedural.
So let's bring these arms out. Imagine him flaring out as he squishes, and there's going to be animation happening in the legs, but I'm not going to worry about them too much right now. Let's break them, so they're going to just move down and through the feet. Okay, and then the same. He's going to be working out of that pose here. Let's do the same thing. Try to match the previous one. See if that works. Now they're going a bit too far. Back up by one. Okay. Now, one thing that I think we'll do right now and it'll really help you to figure out what we're doing is go into these feet.
I'm using frameEdit in and as you can see, here is our guidelines, so we don't get lost. Let's put down F6 here and here, and I'll put one there too. Let's make this shape tween. This is the frame that's going crazy because we just moved the legs down. There's nothing joining into the base of the shoes anymore. So, again, we're on frame 15. Let's use frameEdit in. Click on that. This is the keyframe 15. We're right at it, but let's shape tween this thing.
This is where it gets really cool. Now, this is where we also need to have shape hints. Now, I warned you earlier, every time you're going to apply a shape hint, you're rooting to save your scene. It's very prone to crashing. I'm going to take my own advice and save that. Okay, now let's add some shape hints. Already getting better. If your first hint makes it worse, you put it in the wrong place. Ctrl+Shift+H, and we just keep applying more of these hints. The goal being each hint should make it subsequently stronger.
If it's not, then there's a pretty good chance that you've put it in the wrong place and you should try putting it on a different point. Now, you can see that's still going a little goofy here. I'm not going to worry about that for the simple reason that we could still be playing with this for a while, but watch this. So you can see for the duration of this movement, the left leg, or his physical right leg, is actually animating and it's animating in sync and we have a nested shape tween working in tandem with a motion tween, and now we just simply do the same thing with the other leg.
And you might find outline mode might be easier for some of this. Ooh! And that one worked without any shape hints. This is the mystery of shape tweening. So, I'm not complaining. So there we go and that will give you some idea about the rest of the process that we'll be following. So, since this frame here should also have bent legs, we can go into these and keep them bent. Add shape tweening on there. I'm going to go into this one, repeat that too.
Still it won't be perfect but it'll be a lot better. Shape tween there. We need to add hints on the right leg again. So, we want to have some very straight legs on frame 25. So, before I do anything else, I'm going to go into that and make a new key here, and that frame's actually be closer to this one. So, what I'm going to do is grab this stack of keys, hold down the Alt key or the Option key and drag back, and of course all of my frame numbers will be wrong. Let me close the Library panel. There we go. To correct that frame, all these, all the symbols should be set to number 25, which is our number here.
Probably a lot of you time when you do this will be spent correcting all these internal frames to make sure they all line up. So, let's push this one a little higher. I'm going to select everything except the feet, push it up a bit, maybe rotate it, bring it back forward, and then let's pull his legs down a little bit. And now, we can see, if you play it without tweening, you'll have a rough idea. So, I find just make everything a tween. Watch it quick and dirty. Let's have a look at that.
And so this, even though it's obviously very floaty and far off from finished, you can see that that's the basic emphasis of the point of the turn. As we begin to fix him, I'm going to correct the tweening of the foot here, because that's really catching the eye very badly. So, let's drop some hints in and when you have previous hints from the previous key, that's often a good idea to try to follow them. I often find the same combination, well, not always, but the same combination can work. It does.
It's good. So now, we need to fine-tune this position so everything doesn't move down as a big slidey single image, and that's simply a process of breaking apart the various elements, so that they move more naturally. So, I think we should break here. In the next section, what I'll do is I'll fine-tune and refine this basic movement. We will see the amazing transformation as we make fairly minor adjustments to this process.
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