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Creating Flash-friendly character design

From: Flash Professional CS5: Character Animation

Video: Creating Flash-friendly character design

When you're working in Flash, it's important to know the strengths and weaknesses of the program. This is going to affect how you design your project and your characters. Now unlike in 3-D programs like Maya or 3D Studio MAX, Flash works with a series of flat layers. This means that we should favor design styles and movements that recognize this and allow for it. Now we have to work around this flatness and create the illusion of dimensionality, that the character actually is in a series of squished levels. So I'm going to show you the rig that we're going to create during the course of this class.

Creating Flash-friendly character design

When you're working in Flash, it's important to know the strengths and weaknesses of the program. This is going to affect how you design your project and your characters. Now unlike in 3-D programs like Maya or 3D Studio MAX, Flash works with a series of flat layers. This means that we should favor design styles and movements that recognize this and allow for it. Now we have to work around this flatness and create the illusion of dimensionality, that the character actually is in a series of squished levels. So I'm going to show you the rig that we're going to create during the course of this class.

Let me change the workspace layout a little bit. So it's easier to see the vertical stack. That's good. Let me switch this to Outline mode. Each layer has a different outline color. I'm going to pull the figure apart a little bit. Let's go back to color. So you get the idea. Essentially think of it like a one of those little flat dolls on strings that you pull and yank the legs out.

It's pretty much no different. That's the physical structure of the character. I'm going to reverse them back now, okay. So the simpler and the more graphic your design, the easier it's going to be for you to pose the character and to animate them, and the more realistic and the more detailed the design, the harder it's going to be. So let me show you. In fact these layers are old one single color means I can move them, align them into different positions and poses, and I don't have to worry quite so much. I can split the legs over here.

Quite drastically change the pose of the character, even without doing anything really substantial. I don't have to worry about lining up too much details. That's pretty good. I can flip the head over, all kinds of things, and that's just a simple example. Now, let's suppose that our figure has lines, one of the big design no-nos of Flash. Try to avoid stripy lines that cross the seams of the levels. You got to try to avoid polka dots, and I've seen all these things in actual productions and they caused havoc, because lining up the seams, if stripes cross them or dots cross them or some other graphical element crosses these points, the animators have to spend quite a lot of time making that work.

So let's try to do something similar with this guy. If I move that arm, you can see immediately on the shoulder area, if I move that hand, try to do anything with that hand to make him look like, "Come this way sir," oh dear, oh dear. That's going to be someone's lunch break ruined. So this is the problem with being too ambitious and too fancy with these graphical elements. You have to be very careful about how you structure them and where you put them and if I wanted to do something even more important with one of these shapes.

For example, if I wanted to take the arm and work inside the arm, to do something really interesting and position it into a different gesture, it's easy enough to do it. It's just a single area of flat color. To do this same thing with the striped arm involves point after point after point. It's going to take a long time just to do something, the smallest change.

That's not going to be fun and the chances are it's not going to look good. So that's one of the cardinal rules when you're designing a character for Flash. Don't inflict this on yourselves, because it will wear you down. I'm not saying it's impossible. There are ways and means to do some of these effects, but they require quite a bit of engineering and they're certainly not for somebody who's beginning to work in Flash and you should have a lot of time to decide to do it. As a good rule of thumb, the more complicated your design, the less energy and time that you're going to have to actually animate the character.

Let me show you just the simple example of a simple design, little dollar bills walking in great numbers. These are marching. Let's go in a little closer. Okay, let's go try it again. So there we see a little shape, a simple shape tweened animation. A lot of personality in that, a lot of fun to work in, and all this is a couple of layers, so if you're in the process of learning this program, I think you'll get a lot more enjoyment out of animating something that's easy to work with, and not overly laden with graphical elements, things around the perimeter or any of the detail.

So that's initially, we'll try to keep these symbols as simple as we can, and make your time as free as possible to focus on actually making our little guy perform and act and walk. So let's move on.

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This video is part of

Image for Flash Professional CS5: Character Animation
Flash Professional CS5: Character Animation

83 video lessons · 21261 viewers

Dermot O' Connor
Author

 
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  1. 3m 25s
    1. Welcome
      1m 9s
    2. Using the exercise files
      39s
    3. Prerequisites
      1m 37s
  2. 34m 58s
    1. Creating Flash-friendly character design
      4m 57s
    2. Animation rendering: SWF or AVI
      2m 24s
    3. Understanding line tool drawbacks when animating
      7m 7s
    4. Using uniform project scales in Flash
      3m 40s
    5. Finding helpful extensions for Flash
      2m 46s
    6. Using commands and keyboard shortcuts
      9m 53s
    7. Setting up your workspaces
      4m 11s
  3. 1h 35m
    1. Understanding character rigging
      2m 0s
    2. Exploring underlying structure in character rigging
      4m 27s
    3. Vectorizing the character body
      6m 22s
    4. Outlining colors in an animated character
      6m 15s
    5. Vectorizing the hands
      6m 43s
    6. Vectorizing the head
      4m 47s
    7. Outlining the head
      8m 20s
    8. Adding finishing touches with hair
      2m 11s
    9. Colorizing the character head
      7m 28s
    10. Colorizing the body
      5m 33s
    11. Applying gradients
      6m 18s
    12. Symbolizing and pivoting the body parts
      10m 47s
    13. Pivoting the head
      4m 42s
    14. Rigging the mouth
      10m 49s
    15. Rigging the eye
      8m 33s
  4. 52m 22s
    1. Tween types: Shape vs. motion
      5m 41s
    2. Combining motion and shape tweening
      4m 31s
    3. Animating an eye blink using shape tweening
      10m 2s
    4. Rigging a mouth in Flash for dialogue and expressions
      5m 30s
    5. Creating a D mouth
      12m 29s
    6. Creating an F mouth
      6m 58s
    7. Getting the polished look
      7m 11s
  5. 1h 2m
    1. Overview of the head turn
      2m 13s
    2. Preparing the rig
      8m 15s
    3. Posing the rig
      7m 17s
    4. Animating the head movement
      11m 5s
    5. Animating the body movement
      12m 9s
    6. Animating the head turn
      11m 28s
    7. Adding finesse to the head turn
      9m 34s
  6. 2h 44m
    1. Introducing the walk
      1m 5s
    2. Creating a profile view
      8m 30s
    3. Creating the head in profile
      10m 10s
    4. Creating the hand
      6m 57s
    5. Creating hand symbols
      8m 32s
    6. Reviewing the walk
      3m 6s
    7. Prepping the walk
      8m 33s
    8. Setting up the contact poses
      6m 45s
    9. Creating secondary contact poses
      9m 38s
    10. Finishing up the contact poses
      6m 48s
    11. Creating the passing poses
      9m 39s
    12. Finishing the passing pose
      5m 56s
    13. Animating the recoil position
      10m 9s
    14. Animating the high point of the walk
      9m 24s
    15. Adding in-betweens
      8m 31s
    16. Rigging the shoes
      8m 27s
    17. Animating the shoes
      11m 58s
    18. Animating the character's head movements
      8m 29s
    19. Fine-tuning the animation
      9m 0s
    20. Nesting the hand symbols
      8m 39s
    21. Repositioning the walk
      4m 11s
  7. 1h 32m
    1. Introducing the walk in place
      1m 30s
    2. Setting up contact poses
      10m 4s
    3. Creating the passing poses
      7m 14s
    4. Creating the recoil positions
      8m 11s
    5. Animating the head's high point
      4m 9s
    6. Tweening the legs
      5m 11s
    7. Tweening the arms
      10m 27s
    8. Setting the placement of the foot
      9m 9s
    9. Animating the shoes
      7m 52s
    10. Animating the hair
      6m 9s
    11. Creating secondary hand actions
      8m 48s
    12. Animating the torso
      6m 27s
    13. Repositioning the walk
      7m 17s
  8. 54m 9s
    1. Understanding dialogue
      49s
    2. Using the A-F system of six set mouth shapes
      4m 23s
    3. Animating dialogue using the mouth rig
      14m 30s
    4. Integrating the dialogue with the head turn
      5m 35s
    5. Animating the jaw
      6m 59s
    6. Creating an angry dialogue mouth
      7m 43s
    7. Finishing the angry dialogue mouth
      6m 38s
    8. Integrating acting techniques
      1m 51s
    9. Tips on facial expressions
      5m 41s
  9. 36s
    1. Goodbye
      36s

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