Animation Tips and Tricks with Flash Professional
Illustration by John Hersey

Animating overlapping hair


Animation Tips and Tricks with Flash Professional

with Dermot O' Connor

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Video: Animating overlapping hair

So now I'm going to recreate the animation of the hair so that you can see exactly how it was done. So first thing we have to do is simply clear these layers. So I'm going to right-click; clear those keyframes. And we have the hair forelock; I am going to keep the first frame with that. And there is this lower level for the hair. So am going to keep the first frame for that. Just get rid of all of the subsequence.
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  1. 6m 35s
    1. Welcome
      1m 4s
    2. Using the exercise files
    3. Common keystrokes and shortcuts used in this course
      4m 40s
  2. 1h 24m
    1. Understanding video versus SWF
      2m 30s
    2. Overview of shortcuts, extensions, and setup
      6m 27s
    3. Understanding linear and radial gradients
      2m 39s
    4. Overlapping and animating the colors
      3m 53s
    5. Lighting a scene
      10m 24s
    6. Creating lens flares
      10m 40s
    7. Animating ripples
      7m 2s
    8. Creating a gradient globe
      11m 41s
    9. Creating a gradient bottle
      10m 26s
    10. Applying gradients to a character's eye
      10m 2s
    11. Applying gradients to a character's skull
      8m 49s
  3. 56m 53s
    1. Tweening a circle to a square
      10m 9s
    2. Using thumbnails
      4m 39s
    3. Animating a magic carpet jump
      10m 12s
    4. Setting up a magic carpet walk cycle
      7m 41s
    5. Animating a magic carpet walk cycle
      9m 33s
    6. Shape tweening hair
      3m 50s
    7. Intro to overlapping hair
      1m 57s
    8. Animating overlapping hair
      8m 52s
  4. 1h 8m
    1. Animating waves
      8m 7s
    2. Animating clouds
      7m 48s
    3. Animating a flame
      11m 38s
    4. Animating an explosion
      9m 1s
    5. Adding in-betweens to the explosion
      4m 36s
    6. Adding explosion clusters
      6m 43s
    7. Optimizing the explosion
      7m 30s
    8. Animating smoke with particles
      12m 45s
  5. 32m 18s
    1. Introduction to staggers
      1m 5s
    2. Animating a simple stagger
      5m 8s
    3. Animating a diving board
      6m 15s
    4. Animating a tremor
      5m 56s
    5. Animating a scream
      7m 12s
    6. Refining the scream
      6m 42s
  6. 47m 49s
    1. Introduction to Virtual Camera
      5m 4s
    2. Animating parallax
      6m 9s
    3. Animating a crane shot
      6m 26s
    4. Animating a zoom and rotate shot
      9m 30s
    5. Animating a track shot
      11m 0s
    6. Lighting a 3D shot
      9m 40s
  7. 19m 48s
    1. Animating a cross dissolve
      6m 10s
    2. Animating a wipe
      3m 34s
    3. Animating a fadeout
      10m 4s
  8. 20s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course Animation Tips and Tricks with Flash Professional
5h 16m Intermediate Aug 09, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, author Dermot O' Connor introduces a variety of real-world issues that animators commonly encounter and offers practical solutions to them in Flash. The course covers how to apply gradients to create subtle texture and light characters, reducing the flat look of most cartoons; how to simulate natural phenomenon such as wind, fire, and clouds; how to mimic 3D space; and how to add fades and transitions to create custom cuts between scenes. The course also includes a look at staggers, which can be used to create camera shake, tremor effects, and extreme character reactions.

Topics include:
  • Overlapping and animating colors
  • Creating lens flares
  • Animating hair with shape tweens
  • Animating an explosion
  • Animating smoke with particles
  • Animating a scream
  • Using Virtual Cam
  • Lighting a 3D shot
  • Animating cross dissolves
3D + Animation
Flash Professional
Dermot O' Connor

Animating overlapping hair

So now I'm going to recreate the animation of the hair so that you can see exactly how it was done. So first thing we have to do is simply clear these layers. So I'm going to right-click; clear those keyframes. And we have the hair forelock; I am going to keep the first frame with that. And there is this lower level for the hair. So am going to keep the first frame for that. Just get rid of all of the subsequence.

And I'll work within this section here, the guided out hair, and I'm going to get rid of these. So basically all we have now are four layers of hair; pretty much identical to the one we saw in the first of the hair shape tweening lectures, and all I've done is broken it apart at certain points. I could've made three cuts, I could have made two. In this case, I thought four was kind of a happy medium. So that's why we have four layers here. Now when we begin to animate this -- I've already preanimated at the top here this S curve level, and this is the kind of thing I'm trying to match.

This is the classic animation waveform that goes from the C shape to an S shape, and reverses to the opposite, and back again. It's very pleasing, and it's extremely good at creating the illusion of flexible motion. So let's see how best this can be achieved using the Envelope tool. So let's just make three more columns. I am going to go in a little closer. In earlier versions of Flash I would've been able to select all of these, and then apply the Envelope tool, but it's locked out now.

So this unfortunately means a slightly slower work process, but it's still worth doing. There is our first layer. Now if you look carefully at that point there; let me zoom in. There is a bit of weirdness going on there. It might be at the threshold that you can live with. So let's go to the next one. It's extremely small. We can definitely add hints, of course, if we think that's too much, or it starts acting weird. It's always good to keep an eye out for that. Now there are other things that we can do in terms of trying to make these feel a little more flexible.

We can individually bend the hairs. And we are seeing another little bump there on the corner. The thing that will really sell the idea that this is a very flexible object, like hair, is squeezing these into reversing their shape. This is curved into a C shape here. If we can coax it into the opposite angle, then we can tell it's not just stiff object. And on the way back up, if we can pull these down -- and now it's a question of just how much can we get away with before the shape tweening simply breaks.

And, of course, it will. It has its limits. It's not perfect. There is another tool that's very handy when you work like this, and that's the Subselection tool. If you click on that, and click on the shape, you'll see all the points. One of the things that can happen when you use the Envelope tool is that new points get generated as a natural byproduct in that process. So if that happens that can contribute to bad tweening. These new points can be deleted, and sometimes you can use the different line tools to draw around them, and cut them out to try to maintain the points.

So in other words, if you have 15 of those points on Frame 1, you want 15 on all of your frames if you can keep them that way. So that is the basic process that was used to create the various layers. So as you can see, it's holding up pretty well layer by layer.

The simpler your shape, in theory, the more reliable this process should be. I would suggest you try to break it; see how far you can take this before it snaps. And that's pretty good. I'm going to just very quickly -- and I'm not going to use much finesse with this, so please forgive, but the primary purpose now is to just show the general principle of this.

These lines here, you see that they're kind of stuck in a straight line, you may want to be little more adventurous with them. If you hold down the Alt key you can then break them apart so that they work independently of one another. It's handy if you really want to add little breaks. As you can see, it's creating a point there, but it hasn't damaged the image tweening. So I'm just going to do the last one. I am going to squash this one.

Now I'm seeing a little weirdness around some of the joints there, but the hair is going to be moving so fast, I don't think we need to add any shape hints. And if you were to add shape hints, I will say it again: be sure you save your project before you apply them, as it can lead to the occasional crash. So now we have our four layers, and obviously the animation isn't as nice as the finished one that I was showing you earlier, but we do have a one more step that we can add that will help polish this.

So I am going to select all these layers, and hold down the Alt key, and drag them here. I'm going to continue holding down the Alt key, and just copy and paste. We could also right-click, and go Copy Frames, and paste them, but I think this will be all right. So the next thing we do is offset the timing. And I select three layers here; hit F5, then select the bottom two, and F5 again, and the bottom one, and F5 again. I can continue going a little further, but I think for now I'll just chop it off about here.

I am going to drag these just to there. I am going to just get rid of them, and now let's see what that looks like. Now let's hide that lower layer, and let me guide out that. They became guides, because I copied the original Guide layer, so that property was propagated. They don't have to be guides. So let's play this. And as you can see, we've got overlapped timing. The shape tweening, of course, is much more conservative.

I didn't take any major risks with this. I have not animated the forelock, but I would use the same technique in using the same systems for animating that. Envelope tool. Same here. Of course, you see I'm using only two or three keys. You could have 20 different keys. It depends on your time. Now you see, I've finally managed to break it. And in that event what I will do is just hold down the Alt, Option key, drag Frame 1, and try again.

Maybe don't be quite so aggressive this time, and see if that works. Work in increments. And that's broken again. So, that will be a shape that I would definitely have to add the shape hints to that to make it work. Try one more time. Because it is simple shape, we could probably move that individually. Let's see if we can do this.

There we go, and that works. So I would just obviously repeat the process, select those frames, hold down the Alt key, and duplicate them. And nowhere in this have we had to resort to shape hints, which is great. So great for mermaids, under water, characters standing in wind. You can make the timing faster simply by removing some of these empty frames here. And that gives you a great deal of flexibility.

You really don't want to be animating hair by hand. It's not fun. So with that I think we're done with shape tweening.

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