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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, we are in character_rig_profile_ 04. This is where we left off from the previous section. So, we have our line arc created for the hand in its profile position, and the next step will be to help to differentiate between these different layers. Some of this is more easily done than others, so the thumb for example, let's just make sure we have selected the right color for that. In the Color panel, go and make sure you have H selected and just drag the color down and you can see you can -- you'll watch on the stage where I'm going crazy with the color. So, let's just bring it down to something that's a little easier on the eye, just by making that one color change to the thumb.
That's the simplest way of making this alteration. If we can do it like this, it's also advisable to just do it with simple change in tone. The next thing is how it will help differentiate these fingers and this can be done quite so easily because obviously this is a continuous shape and if we were to do that, then this could look quite peculiar. So, the solution here should be to add a little highlight area. Like imagine there is light coming from the top-right and we are going to see a lighter tone.
Let's start with the small finger first, Snap on, and thenSnap off again because I want to make a very thin, narrow shape here and make it fine. Let's put the color back on so we can separate this area now. So, I want to go back into that original skin color, select the area that we've just closed off, and brighten this. Let's double-click in that line. Ctrl+X to delete it.
Now, sometimes how readable this is could depend on the brightness of the color you've chosen or the size of the area. It usually depends on the combination of two. So, if you think it's not a strong enough separation, you might want to punch it up a little bit or make the space a bit bigger. So let's go into outline on the middle finger. We'll Snap on, same process here, and Eyedropper to make sure we're using the same color. Double-click on that line, delete it, and there we are.
That's probably the simplest way of doing it. We could also add, as we did on the previous hand, this shadow area on this side. I don't think it's strictly necessary on this one. It's a good idea to keep things as simple as possible and not add too much complexity if it's not required. So, I'd be conservative with this and just keep it like this. I am going to drag all these keyframes of the new hand and just drag them over by one. Layer 1, I am just going to call hand all to differentiate that between this. So now, we can move from this to that.
Definitely a slight style change because of the absence of that dark area. So, I am actually going to add it because that'll help keep it consistent. Okay, just make sure we're working in the right layer here, yeah. And if you look in Outline mode again, I have just a slight slippage there. We need those points to line up properly. Okay, so now, if we go into the earlier frame, let's use the Eyedropper again and select that dark area, because I want these colors to match exactly. Hit the Fill tool.
Now, in this case we are kind of limited by the geometry of the shape. So I am pulling the shadow into a point here, and we'll do the same thing on this layer. Again, notice how I select that layer by clicking on the outline, and you can tell with the different layer colors too that you're working in the correct layer. So now let's create that line and fill this. Now, we can do that back and forth test again. It's a little better. We're not seeing that kind of pop quite so bad. I'll also add the shadow area onto the other two fingers.
We need to hide this one first, because we're working beneath it. This way if and when this finger rotates and moves, you'll be able to see that color area beneath. I am now going to add it in here too, outer lining, the outlining. Again, see the advantage of working in your own outline colors, because you can tell at a glance which level you're working on. So, there we go. Again, don't forget. Get rid of these lines. Just click and remove the lines that you've created the spaces with.
It's looking better. It's stronger to have the dark on one side and light on the other, and now we go back. Okay, that's not going to catch the eye. Good! Now that we have lined the shadows of the different layers, we will now pivot the areas of the symbols. One important aspect of this is to name it so that it lives in the right area in your Library. So let's call it arm right and it'll be finger 3. So, F8, arm right hand will be better.
Now, when we drag that into the correct part, you'll see that's really nice. Whereas if I call that finger 3, it'll be down here somewhere and as your Library gets bigger, it gets hard to find things. This'll be arm right hand finger 2, arm right hand finger 1. We'll again do the housekeeping and just drag these new symbols into the body parts folder, and there they are, very nicely sorted. I think we'll keep the palm as a flat image right now.
Now, I am not sure that we need to symbolize the thumb. We might be able to shape between the thumb, and that might give us more flexibility. So for now, let's not bother with that. So the next thing I want to do is to correct the pivots on this. The quick and dirty way is Free Transform and drag to there, but as you know, I like to make it a little more rugged than that. So what I am going to do is make a temporary layer, Shift and click, copy these layers, Ctrl+C, put them into a blank layer up here, break them apart, put them into Outline mode, and then this will be our reference layer. So then as we go into each of these symbols, double-click on them, I want this finger to pivot around here.
View > Snapping > Snap to Grid. Great! And now as you can see, that's our primary pivot. That's by far the strongest ways of doing this. So there we go. That finger is now corrected pivoted and can rotate. We can fix these gaps and breaks later on as we begin to animate the form. So let's repeat this process. The middle finger will pivot around this point instead. If it pivots around the other, it'll not be as strong I think.
Let's correct the pivot on this symbol here. Great! And that snapped in there very nicely. So delete the guide layer and there we go. That's out three-quarter hand on one layer. We could separate this onto layers like the other one, and that's the beauty of Flash. You can do that later on, you can create everything on one layer as a first pass, and then begin animating with it, and then later on, if you think, I want to break this into multiple layers so that I can do really cool stuff with the hand and splay out the different fingers and get more expressive with it, then you can do that too.
You're not padlocked into one, especially on a smaller project where it's not going to be duplicated a thousand times. So, that's the right hand. Okay, so that's it. There's one last thing I want to do and we did this earlier too. This is right now, if you look in our Properties panel-- dDouble-click on that to move that down so we can see it more clearly. The Properties panel is currently calling on frame 1, and we did our new hand on frame 2. So we'll set this hand not from Loop, put to Single Frame, and we'll say you are now on frame 2, hit Enter, there we go.
Let's just do a little quick check on the left hand. I am going to go into Outline mode and see if we need to make any changes to the left hand, because again this is going to be a profile hand. Even though we made that hand in our three-quarters position, it looks really good in the profile position as well. That's nice and natural looking. Like the other hand, it's all in one level. If we do need to, we can break these fingers up, but I think for now we are good. So let's go back into our outer layer, and we will switch everything to full color, and we'll save this as 05, and then we will move on and we will begin doing the walk cycle.
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