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In this course, author Dermot O' Connor offers experienced Flash designers a step-by-step guide for creating and animating a full-featured cartoon face in Adobe Flash Professional. The course begins with some best practices for setting up the rig and moves on to building facial features such as the mouth and eyes, sculpting the mouth to simulate dialogue, and creating a range of expressions. The course also shows how to rotate the head using poses, move the rig along multiple axes, and incorporate audio.
So, happily, we only have one final head direction left to do. If you the adventurous type, and you feel like you've pretty much picked up the method by now, feel free to do this by yourself and skip over this movie and see if your solution to the problems and the puzzles involved will be similar to mine or different, better, or worse. So in the meantime, for those of you who still need to see more of this procedure, stay tuned, and I'll walk you through this process. There might be a few little pitfalls still ahead of this. Bear in mind that we do have to take care of not just one transition from the F to the G, but the one backwards as well, from the F to E, and that's the tricky part.
But let's just get cracking and see what happens. So what I am going to do is similar to the previous section where we used a flip of the opposite head as a reference, we'll do the same thing again. So I am going to put a little blank frame in here and the F is going to be a direct mirror image of the D. So let's select all of the D heads, I'll go Ctrl+C, making sure none of the layers are padlocked of course, and let's go to our new little reference level, Ctrl+Shift+V to paste in place, and you can see it in there, it's now a little faint gray.
So let's activate the reference image and go to the layer 2 here, that will just paste it in, go Modify > Transform > Flip Horizontal, and then we just nudge it with the arrow keys until it's pretty much where we like. Now, we can get rid of the line art in beneath and padlock the reference, and the next step will be, let's unhide everything, let's grab the entire D column, hold down the Alt or Option key and drag it to here.
So the next thing that I am going to do is because it's kind of intimidating, when you see all these layers and these keyframes popping from level to level, and you just wonder, "What am I dealing with here?" One of the easy way of getting a good feeling for how it's going to work is just make it all tween and see what happens. So I am just going to go through all these layers and just activate the tweens, there are some layers that are now standing by themselves, let's figure those out in a moment. There is even a layer here that doesn't seem to be doing anything, so we'll get to that in bit as well, and do some troubleshooting with there.
Okay, let's see what this looks like. I am going to hide that Reference layer. So we spin to the back view. Ah! Of course, we haven't matched these horizontally yet, so let's go in and do that first. So let's go into the Reference layer again. Very quickly, we are going to go through the layers and move them into position. Select the nose, swing him over there, and let's put these into outline, easier again to see exactly what we are doing, padlock and the familiar process now.
And the beauty of this is once we have the shapes selected, the shapes can then be transformed horizontally, but never the symbols. Padlock that, same with the neck, Modify > Transform > Flip Horizontal, same with the hair. The left ear should now be on the uppermost level, and this is a holdover from the other side where it was on the bottom. Let's see where we are coming from and going to, and it was when it was behind the head, and now it's spinning around, and that should be on top.
So I am not really 100% sure about this fellow, there is another ear up here, so let me just hide him for the moment again, keep going. These little outriders we can leave alone for the time being, the head let's flip that as well, Modify > Transform > Flip Horizontal, because it's just a shape. I don't want to affect anything other than itself. Now we have the two hair layers, hair Left and hair Right. What happens when we take the head from one side, from the D, and we transport it over to the F is that basically these reverse in hierarchy, so that the left becomes the right and the right becomes the left, so here is a quick and dirty way to fix this, simply drag one key up, the other down, move this guy over.
I think we'll just reactivate shape tweening so that should be safe enough. and then of course, we have we have to flip these horizontally and the same for this guy, Flip Horizontal, okay, just keep going. These are all empty, and I think you might have a little issue with the left eye that this eye here is his physical left eye, or the blue eye. So let's not use any of the green eye artwork here.
So let's just select these and delete them. And actually let's switch off the tweening, we don't need that either. Instead, what we'll do is use the blue eye level from the previous or the subsequent key, this one here, so Alt/Option-drag over, and now I am going to use Free Transform to push this into place and match the reference, and let's move that pupil out just to the edge, much better, and let's see if we can match this very twisty eyebrow, and that's pretty good, and let's see if we can figure out what's going on with this ear.
So now we have the ear Right, and we shouldn't be seeing much of an ear Right on this fellow, because it will be the right ear, was not beneath the head. So for the moment anyway let's just delete that, and we have the nose. This is the upper nose level for the A direction, we don't use that, and I am going to put in some blanks here just to keep everything consistent. So let's see, I haven't done any major thinking I have just been repositioning things, so let's go to color, see what happens. Now there are some flashing going on.
But you get the idea of the basic motion, and I find this is actually a very comforting way to work because you can see most of the work that really needs to be done now is just stabilizing some of the weird flashing shapes. So let's do that that first. So again, switch everything off, and let's go to the jaw, and I think we have a level issue with the jaw to fix, so let's leave that for the moment. You can't really fix levels when things are doing this, so it is a question of that workflow. So now we are on the neck level and their shape pins on it, we can tell because we put this little flag on there.
So let's hit Ctrl+Shift+H, and of course they've all fallen out of place because we reversed the artwork horizontally, so let's right-click on the E and remove that, but we want the other four, so let's just put them back to their corners. Again, I will warn you, back up your file before doing this, because this is a crash risk event. Okay, I lost my hints there, so I'll go back to the first one, Ctrl+Shift+H to make a new one, remove that, a bit of a workaround this, but it works.
Let's move these, I want to make sure that we absolutely have these on the corner, looks good, on both directions, check them back and forth, and let's go for the hair on the top is also facing the layering issue, so that has to be fixed, and there's probably another hair top layer up here, which we'll combine with this. But for now, I think we can let that slide. Let's look at some more layers and see if there's something bad happening on the hair.
So let's go to the hair Left level. That seems to be working to here fine. The hair Right is doing something strange. Let's figure that out, see where things are breaking. So the jaw is doing something very strange. Let's fix that, yeah, so they need shape hints, so we are going to put in a little label in the Properties panel to put a flag on there, Ctrl+Shift+H, two of them for an A and the B, I am going to apply them, and there are two over here as well.
So I'll fix them, whatever they are doing. Okay, so we fixed that. So this ear seems to be stranded, and we probably are in need of another right ear to fix that. There is not one up there. So what I am going to do is go Ctrl+C, Ctrl+Shift+V to paste in place and just slide it off like that and then put a black frame there and Create Classic Tween.
So we have one last thing that's sticking. Now let's go from the E to the F, seems to be working okay. Okay, now the hair Left. Sometimes you get confused or lost is it better to work backwards from the end. I found it very easy to work forwards from the A and to the E, and then it can get really bit of a puzzle in here. So one way to work is to work backwards from the A, through the H, to the G, and now we are looking at the left side of the hair, into this state, and we want to work this into a large mass of hair here.
So let's see if we can find that, and there it is. So we may need to duplicate this and have it in more than one spot. So let's copy that, paste it here and Create a Shape Tween, see if that works. We may need to add some hands onto this. So let's hide everything, snap on, Ctrl+Shift+H to get us a hint, and move that in the corner, and in this case one hint seems to be enough. There is a little bit of weirdness going on here, so I'll put one more down.
Again, back up your file before you do this, and that's okay. Okay, so now when we look at the whole thing, it's starting to look a lot more solid. I'll padlock these and outline them, and there are some very strange business going on here. I suspect this probably won't even be noticed, but we do have a duplicate anyway of this hair right mass, so it's possible that we can just switch that off and then jump to the layer beneath, it's exactly the same, again, kind of like a relay when one transfers into the other. Let's try that and see if it works.
And the rest of the column is pretty empty, and there's the F, we have four more here, for the left eye, okay. So now I am going to put color on again and see how close we are. So the pops note that are still outstanding are because of level problems, so let's work backwards from the end to the center. So the jaw is on top as it should be, as we go back, still on top. We need to get to the point where the jaw is on the bottom, which is down here.
So we have a jaw level on the bottom, and we have a jaw level on the top up here, so some kind of handover has to happen. So let's hold down the Alt/Option key and drag this down to here and then hit F7 there, because we don't need the jaw after that point. Let's see what this looks like. So that's where to find out at what point the jaw needs to be above, and I would think right here. So what I am going to do is make a keyframe here and then select that and drag it to the upper jaw level here and then blank it out here and then delete this as well. Let's see what that looks like.
I think when we add the ear to cover that little join, I think we need one more left ear right at the spot. So let's see, I'll go into Outline mode. With the left ear here, I think we can do better than that. Don't forget, too, we have a bottom ear level and what happens is let's follow this thing around in 3D NURB from the beginning. We have the left ear, and as he rotates, the ear is beneath, it's still beneath the head, still beneath the head, still beneath the head, until here, and then boom! At this point, we need another left ear on this level, right here on that square.
So what I am going to do is drag that left ear up to here, back down to the bottom. I am very carefully moving up and down, trying to catch these layers. This ear symbol, I think we can do better than that, so I am going to delete that, and I am going to put in a blank frame there, so this is the last time we'll see the left ear beneath, and now we are going to transition up here to the upper left ear, as it begins to rotate around. So we need to add one in here. So let Flash do, and I am going to clear that keyframe, right-click and Clear Keyframe, and there is a better position for it, hit F6 to keyframe that, and let's move that into place, and now we have the ear moving around solid.
You see what I've done here, even if I was doing this by myself in an empty room, I would talk this through slowly and very carefully, trying to reason the position of all these objects, and now as we scrub through, it's really starting to come together. On this transition from E, through F and G is starting to really look a lot more solid. It's not there yet, but it's really getting close now. The big scary pops and problems are starting to go away. So let's figure out the last few bits here.
The hair on the top is disappearing, if you follow through there, it's popping on and off. That's just another layer issue. So here we have the hair on top, and as we move to here, we have the hair on this level down here. So all we need to do is to duplicate the hair from this level, and one way of doing it, Ctrl+C, and let's go down to the lower level, here it was that again, easy to get lost, hair top to the hair top level down here, Ctrl+Shift+V to paste that in and hit F7 after that to blank it out, and let's see how this behaves.
And at least it stopped disappearing, so we have definitely improved it, and I think we might want to keep the hair on top a little longer. I think to here, probably to here, the hair should still be on top. So let's go down to this level again, I am just going to grab this and Alt or Option and drag all the way to there. I think that looks stronger, and then it's just a piece of housekeeping to get rid of all of these, hit F7, so now the transition happens on this frame to this frame.
So this is the kind of operation that you have to follow through. I am still seeing a bit of weirdness here. So let's have a look, the hair is on the top, looks fine until here, until here, and I think we are missing maybe a piece of the hairline, that could be it. So let's hide him for a moment, there it is. So, this area here, I click on it so I can see it and put it in outline, follow it through, frame by frame, and it's spinning around right there, and that's what's making that a little color pop. So let's hide this as well.
All I want to see right now is this little green area. Let's go in really close on that, and I suspect we'd probably have to add shape hints, so please save your file before you do anything. So this is the frame we have to contain with, click on the timeline, in the Properties panel under Label, give it a little red flag, and now Ctrl+Shift+H, and let's pick maybe that point there, Ctrl+Shift+H for another one, click, maybe we'll put it here.
Let's try one more, Ctrl+Shift+H for another one, click, and I am just going to move that around, play with it a little bit. There we go, that's a little better. I think that might be enough to at least stop that pop. So the other thing that we can do is change the shape of this hair, let's do that. I am going to put it into outline, and pull this line down like this so that we get a smooth motion into here, we pull this point in a little bit deeper, I am going to switch Snap Off, and let's see what that looks like.
Let's zoom out so we can see a better look. It's a lot better. Now this could use some polishing, no doubt, but you get the idea of the basic process, and it's well worth taking a bit of time on this particular area here. If you have watched this and thought that this is just a phenomenal amount of effort to go to, then I stress most of the real puzzle work is between here, and if you look carefully, after we are tweening between the A, the B, the C, it is quite straightforward, there is no level changes happening here, and there are no level changes happening between the G and the H and back to A again, and this area here is where you will do almost all of your animation if you are doing character work.
It's very rare that you do stuff from three-quarter rearview. I'm putting this in here for the sake of completeness. But I have animated most of my career, most of it's happened within here and here, so I would suggest if you feel that this is just not worth the effort, then don't worry about the tweening, but I would still recommend that you try to maintain the layer hierarchy, and that's pretty easy. You could switch off all the tweens here and be able to move between the rearview and the three-quarter views with the same layer structure.
It creates a lot more freedom and opportunities when you begin to animate. So that is the head rotation, 360 degrees, and now we're going to just do some last minute tweaks. There are some things that obviously aren't going to work from here. The most obvious being the mouth, and the mouth right now is in the front on A view, and we need to make a mouth that will work in the B and the C directions, and luckily that's not just fun, but it's pretty straightforward, so we'll do that next.
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