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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.
Before we go any further, I would like to make a quick comment about the nature of making an animated figure in Flash. It's not like 3D where you can build a beautiful rig and if you do it well enough, it will be almost perfect, and it will do everything that you need it to do. Flash is more like making a Frankenstein monster; you are patching together different bits and pieces and sticking them together and trying to trick the audience in to thinking that you have made a really unique character that's perfect. And you really can do it, but just bear this in mind before you go too much further, so don't feel bad if weird little things happen. It may not be your fault.
It's just something that you have to work around, and that is what most of us have to do most of the time. And I would like to make some comments first as well, before we go even further than this. There are some dos and don'ts that are very good to observe, and I have found this through bitter experience. Keep your file names short in the project library. Don't name things very, very long. You want your designs to be clean; don't overcomplicate your character design. In this course, I have gone as complex as I feel comfortable with in a tutorial. You can make them more complex than in this course, but if you are starting out and you are doing this for the first time, try to get the characters simple and graphic.
Keep a universal scale, by which I mean have one size for your characters and your props and your backgrounds if you can. If you have different characters that are made to different scales and you try to move between them--let's say you want to have a character move an object from his hand to the hand of another character-- it will change size, so pick a universal scale and stick with it if you can. Consistency in the way you work is also very important. If you do things in the same way over and over again, it will help you when you make a mistake.
It's very easy to make a mistake when you get into a very fast workflow, and if you name things consistently, you will spot your mistakes much more quickly. And you will see during the course of this tutorial that there is an extremely high level of consistency in the way we work. Some don'ts. I avoid using uppercase when I name the files. The reason for this is I conserve uppercase for when it's really important. Using lowercase keeps your file sizes shorter, it allows you to fit more on the screen, and again, this will become apparent as we work through the process.
Don't over complicate the project; try to keep it as simple as possible. We are going to be trying to do very complicated things, so if your workflow, if you pipeline is too complex, you will just be adding more work. When we rig the characters, I will avoid ever flipping any symbol horizontally. It's something that I think a lot of people do. I think it creates problems. I know in the real world you have to do it. When you are rigging the character, we try to avoid it at all cost. Finally, avoid grouping symbols. I find when you group symbols that it can be very difficult to figure out where you are in the symbol hierarchy.
You can get lost very easily. It really doesn't make sense in the animation process. It might work if you are like a static designer of graphic art. As a character animator in Flash or any kind of animator in Flash, I just find that it creates many more problems and it isn't worth it.
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