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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 now comes the final of our four walk cycle poses. That's the high-point, pretty self-descriptive. So let's go in and add the high-point to the walk. So again, a reminder, we have our contact, recoil, passing poses done. So the character is in the recoil position, smacks into the ground, begins to move through, recovers from this, goes into their highest position where their body is at maximum stretch, and then they move back into the contact, then it repeats. So depending on how high we make the high- point, it's like the opposite of the low point.
This is how we control the weights of the character, how light footed they are. So let's do that. I think the easiest way is just let's make a keyframe stack, F6, and draw our bounding box around the upper body. I'll repeat from the last one. Make sure that your Contact-sensitive Selection is off and Object-level Undo is on. So let's select these, pull them around, just make sure that you grab them all. Undo.
And now let's just click the arrow and pull it up, by a bit. Not by too much. I'm going to use 1, 2, 3, 4, maybe 5 clicks of the numerical arrow key. Maybe bring the head up a little, just to give it a bit of a joint feel. And we can actually probably bring the legs up too, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. And it's good to keep a mental tally of the number of clicks. It helps to line things up if you are going to push them around like that. Now you can see already. You see it's not doing it here, so the first step has a bouncier feel to it.
So as you can see, of course we have some issues with the positions of joining the legs with the feet. Again, look at our reference material to see what we're shooting for. So the thing to bear in mind about the high-point is that we have a lot of flexibility with the position of the foot. It's floating in the air, so there is a huge amount of choices as potential positions that we can use for the foot. So we're not limited to this position by any means. We can play with it. So let's have a look. I'm going to take a look at this high-point. So let's push that foot off for a moment and see what's happening.
So we can actually slide this leg around. If we wanted to layer it slightly differently, we could bring it right up. We could do really crazy things with it. So I am going to try to be reasonably conservative and just pull it out to here. Don't forget, we're going to have access to the inner position as well, so all this will be shape tweened. So let's just do something a little maybe bolder with it. Now we apply the foot. So we can do that for example. Make it a bit more dainty.
What I'm going to do now is activate shape tweening, so that we can see this thing properly tweened. I haven't bothered now, because I've been more worried about just getting the thing positioned at the main points. And you can see here there is a little bit of a point here that's going to need some shape hints. So the first part of this is working great. Let's look at that first. And we're just looking at his physical right leg right now and here it breaks. At this point we have to have shape tweening. So let's use the frameEdit in or the question mark key.
So before we add shape hints, let's say this. Save your project and go Modify > Shape > Add Shape Hint, and let's pick another high corner up here and now we'll use the scrub through. It's a little bit better. Let's add another one, Ctrl+ Shift+H. Already more stable. We'll add another. Just add a couple more. We'll tie this one down. Oh, that one broke it, so I'm just going to put this one here instead.
This is the point where I've found that the program can be a little weird and it can crash, so that's why we saved it. It's possible that you create a shape that Flash just can't tween, so it's response is to crash, but as long as you backup your previous version, you're safe. So that's good now. Well worth the effort. So there we go. That's a pretty cool looking step. Good! So now that's our high-point and we need to make a couple of more little tweaks.
This leg, we can make that reach this foot by a couple of means. We could stretch it up. But bear in mind, look at the foot. We're actually going to bend the foot. So to reach this point here, the foot is beginning to peel off the ground. To work it back into the contact pose, and we're going to do that as well, this foot here is going to be slightly different shape. So I am going to leave that for now. We'll move ahead and deal with the rest of the parts first. I'm going to come back and deal with that last. Let's undo that little move. It's going to line up with the feet, the hands.
Let's go into Outline, because I want to make sure that the left hand is moving properly. That's this guy. Seems to be enough. I think we can pull it down a bit. Notice as well that the left hand and the left limbs are moving opposite to one another. So as the right moves forward, the right arm goes back, and as the left leg moves forward, the left arm moves back.
So that's our character, pretty much posed. We still have to go in and fix some of these inner shapes, but for now this is sufficient. So now I want to create the opposite of that shape, and again, we'll make a placeholder here. I'm going to copy the first high pose position, Ctrl+Shift, and paste it to the temporary layer, and then move this over. And this will be our positional guide, so that both high-points look as close to one another as we can get. Now we can make our keys here, F6, bounding box around the upper body.
Actually I'm going to include the legs as well, take that photo. Good! Now I'll just use the arrow key to roughly line up to the height I want, maybe Free Transform to tilt the head back a little, match the other. And the other thing that's important to match is the position of the foot. That should be the same. Not so much the physical position as the angle. Move them off to one side or here, but definitely the angle details should be as close as possible. And we want to make sure that the foot is on the right line.
We have one line for the left foot, one line for the right foot. Very easy for these to slip. So the one closest to us is green and the one farthest away is blue and that seems to be solid enough. So that's good. And then the other thing would be to position the leg. So I'm moving the left leg to match the one opposite, and I think that should be fine. So let's get rid of this now. Delete that layer. I was a bit premature. I'm going to put that back in for a second. I want to check for the hands as well. There we go.
Now we can get rid of it. So we have the same issue with this foot. This foot should be peeling off to join this back leg, but there's some internal issues here. So let's make a keyframe there and we will just bend the lower trouser leg or the lower leg to match that. And go to Outline for a second. I want to make sure that the arms are all properly aligned. Close enough. We're not in the game yet of being completely accurate. This just needs to get close.
So if we look at each key by itself for a moment, don't worry so much about the in-between frames, and check all the poses are solid, nothing is drifted, or not worrying about this just yet. And that's good. Our recoil pose is good. A little gap there, easy to fix. Passing pose is solid. High-point is good. That's good! And if you want to be very thorough, just check recoil against recoil. Close enough, not too far away. The passing pose to the second passing pose. Make sure they're at the same height.
The same general pose, even though they're on opposite sides. The high-point to the high-point. Fantastic! So let's save this. We call it 13. So with the file saved, it's time to move on and the next step will involve shape tweening the legs and the inner timelines of the legs and the arms to make sure that they're not popping, which is what we're seeing right now, so that way all the keys and all the in- between frames will be smooth.
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