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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.
Here we're going to apply a gradient to a very common graphical symbol; a lot of people at some point need a spinning earth, or a planet. And it's pretty common to see some really cheesy ones out there in online graphics and whatnot. So here's how we take an existing gradient, and this is the identical assets, the same shapes, with some gradients applied. So as you can see, it's quite a transformation from one to the other. And actually we could add even more gradients, but for the purpose of the lecture, let's keep this simple. So we're looking at adding maybe about three gradients to the shape of the sphere itself, and maybe about four or five to the internal shapes of the map.
So I'm going to take you into this quick look-through. So layer by layer; we have our ocean on top of the map, and then the outer atmosphere, and then the shade layer. And we can push these; these are actually pretty subtle, but we have them in place; now we can do what we like. The map is basically the entire map of the Earth with a few bits chopped off out here, and it's masked with a layer that's the same shape as the ocean. And that basically frames the entire surface. That also allows us to move the map back and forth if we want to focus on different areas.
So what I'm going to do is, like I've done before, I'm going to delete some of the current layers, and recreate them to give you an idea about how this is constructed. So let me switch off the map layer first. And we'll just deal with the sphere of the Earth. Imagine there's no landmass on the Earth, and I'm going to take the beautiful blue orb and just make it a flat area. I'll pick a flat color, and fill that. This is what I consider the base shape of the globe. And obviously we want this to be a nice radial color.
So we've defaulted back to an earlier gradient that I've used, so let's just delete all of that. And what we're looking for here is something reasonably simple. I think three colors will be plenty. And let's pick a dark blue, obviously, so that will be the major color. Our opacity settings are too low; I'll bring them back up to 100%. And a quicker way of creating new clones; I'm just going to delete the ones that are there by dragging off, and I'm clicking here and creating new ones. So click that to drag, and click this to move. And now we have three that are pretty much the same.
So now I'm going to, as you can see, lighten that a little bit. Click on this and lighten that some more; maybe change the color slightly, and now let's fill this area. And by clicking at different spots you can see how you can start to create quite different illusions of illumination. So that's a bit more precise; we'll use the Gradient Transform tool. And again, snapping is on; let's switch that off. Let's do this. And I'm going to move this triangle slightly to one center, just to create a little more interesting shape.
Here I am going to move this down just to darken that out. And we can also, of course, change the position of the colors by pulling these back and forth. So let's lock that for now. Now I'm going to make the horizon, and this is the thing that will create the illusion of a dropoff. So let's do that. And we'll again click on the Fill tool. And we have our earlier gradient already created here, so let's make a different one. Pull these in. And we want the outer edge to be white.
And I think we'll fade it out to white as well. This is going to be the inside one; let's set that to 0. And this one, very subtle, just a little blue tint, just to give a hint of some kind of color so it's not pure white; that's kind of boring. So again, very subtle, bring this down to 10% or 15%, and I'm going to fill that. And now bear in mind, what we're seeing now is two gradients overlapping. And you really notice this if I pull this off to one side. Now you're seeing the outer edge of the white, over here, is now being shown there.
But if we pull this in to match the outline, you get a sense of how pretty this is going to look. So the outer edge is 100%; I'm going to bring that down, let's say, to 60%. This is too strong, and now you're seeing a great deal more subtlety in it. And this is completely a matter of your personal taste of course, but this is not looking too bad. And now the shade layer, which is also at the moment that default blue that I was using.
So let us make another gradient here. I want to drop the preceding gradient onto that, so obviously that's not the one that we want to use. So let's just reposition this anywhere. Don't be afraid, like I said, to really make a crazy artificial color if it helps to see exactly what you're working on. So this is going to be the shadow layer, and I think we probably should have four layers for this. And this inside one is going to be at the darkest, so let's make that one an interesting color; I'm going to make it, like, a darker purple.
Not too hot though, so I'm going to pull the color down a lot. What I'll do, it's easier and quicker, is to click over here, and drag new colors to this end, and then get rid of the old ones. You get used to this pretty quick. And let's see. Now, the outside, that's going to be 0, and now you can really see what we're doing.
The second one out from the right would be about 15. And then the mid one will be about 40. Okay. And now, it's a little too purple of course, that's obvious. So let's desaturate that, and we bring it closer down to a dark blue. This is less important on the more transparent colors, because they're obviously more transparent; you can make them almost any color sometimes. So let's just keep expanding this, and we also have access to this little triangle to change the shape. We can pull it out, and now we're starting to get a really nice feel of a planet floating in space.
And that leaves the last aspect, which is the Earth. Now, I've got a mask which is identical to one of these gradient shapes, so that's precisely matching the Earth. Let me go in, and we'll deal with the Earth by itself, because it looks like a lot of detail here, but it's very deceptive; it's quite simple. I want to do just one of the continents to give you an idea about how this was done. Let's pick North America, and this is the base North American shape, and I put the little southwest desert in as another gradient. Now, I'm going to duplicate these two layers, and hold down the Alt, Option key, and just drag them up here.
And I'm going to wipe the color, so I'm just going to give them a boring flat green. Same on this gradient thing here. Okay. So here we have North America. How do we make this more interesting? Well, let's just pick our fill again, and we want a radial, and I think three colors will be enough. And again, I'm going to just delete some of these. Pick a nicer green, and let's make it 100%; all these colors should be 100% for the base.
Obviously, you don't want to see through the land to the sea beneath. Okay. So that gives us three colors to play with. And we can select the entire area and click on -- actually, we would probably just be able to access the primary landmass, which will be the shape. And again, it's popped off my radial. So let's go to Radial gradient again, and refill that, and hopefully this time it will take, I'll fill the entire area. So I just clicked on the frame, click on the Fill tool, and now that's it.
So now when I select our tool here, we can begin to position this. And it depends where you want the darker areas to go. Bear in mind that the sun is coming from this way, so maybe you want your brighter stronger colors out here, and darker ones over there. So let's try that. And this is going to be the center of the tool, don't forget, so we will be radiating out from here. So what I'm going to do, in this case, is pull that to there so that the darker will be center, so let's do that.
Darken the middle color, and if it pops off like that and goes live with all the little dots on it, again, just click the Gradient Transform tool. And as you can see, it's a little too dark, so I'm going to pull the darker closer to the center. And if it does not fit in the curve, just expand this; pull this in. And we have two colors here that are pretty much the same so I'm going to alter one. And it's very good if you can change from one kind of green to another. You'll find it gives you a much more lively gradient.
And I think that our dark is a little too dark, so sometimes if I want to brighten it up, I'll hit the midpoint, delete that, and drag this to where the other one used to be. It's a quick and dirty way of making a change. Next thing to do is to drop in the desert for the Southwest. I don't think I need to worry about having all these little Baffin Islands up here; let's get rid of them. I'm just going to work on this area here. And click on the Fill, pick Radial, and this time I want to make a desert, like the American Southwest.
So let's go to something that's going to be a yellow value. And again, simpler just to drag these guys off, make a new one, and let's make this one really simple. So I'm just going to have the outside go to 0. And makes no sense right now because it's filling the entire map, so let's grab our F key, our Gradient Transform tool, and pull this in. And now we can pop it into roughly the area of the country that's desert. I'm feeling snap on again, so I have to switch that off.
Let's probably make the desert area not quite so bright; we want this to be subtle. I'm going to pull that in a bit more. And this is the kind of point when I usually need to make an intermediate color, and then drag it so that the dropoff is a little more subtle. Let's go in a bit tighter; have a look at this. I know there's not desert up in San Francisco, so let's pull this down a little bit. Okay. I'm going to pull the core in, and then basically move these around until I get something that has a much more natural feeling of dropoff.
And so this is the basic process that I've used to create these maps. And to look at the finished product, which has obviously a great deal more subtlety. You see, I've got some little blue tints in Alaska, and there's a layer for like the entire Sahara, and Arabia. There's the one that I've just done now; you can see how it's a little, maybe, too aggressive. Now that you see the process, though, you should easily be able to see how this was done. We're dealing with, like, a base gradient, and whatever additional layers you want on top of that. You could add another layer for the rainforest with a darker green, and with any of these maps, it's entirely a matter of your personal preference as to how many layers you want to add.
Bear in mind that the more layers you add, the slower a SWF file is going to work; that's my only warning on that. So when we pull out to the main Stage, here's our globe, and here is the before and the after. So keep this in mind as something that you might be able to use to add a little bit of extra heft to your graphics.
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