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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.
We are finally ready to begin, so let's open the Exercise Files folder and look at the 01_01_character image. Let's click on that. So the way we are going to approach the figure is to break he down into a series of directions that we will rig, and the one to begin with, on the far left, is what I call the A pose. And the reason why I don't call these profile, three-quarter side view, is because they don't stack in a logical way in the Library panel. If you name your different directions after letters, for example, it's much easier to keep control and to be able to find which direction is where. You will very quickly become comfortable with knowing that the A pose is the straight-out portrait view, and the B pose would be at the three-quarter direction, C is profile, and so forth.
F, G, H are little more than flips of B, C, and D and of course right now we are just focusing on the head. The same principle is applied to the head as to the body. So let's proceed from here and take a look at the Flash file. Click on that. In the Library panel, I have saved a series of drawings of our character. Let's open this up a little bit, so we can see him a bit better. And this is the A, or the front out, the B, C, D and so forth. And these directions give us our full 360-degree turnaround.
We will start rigging the character in the A, or the front pose, because it's the easiest to work from, and it's fairly straightforward to repurpose the A pose into the B or the three=quarter pose. If you start with the three quarter or the B pose, you will find that it's much more difficult to walk backwards from that into the A or the front pose, so going from A to B is easy; going from B to A, it's a little tricky. So let's go from A to B. So first things first. Let's go to the Timeline and insert a new symbol, and we will call it space hd space 1 space turnaround, and make sure it's a graphic not a movie clip or a button and just click OK.
And the next thing to do is to access the symbol. You won't see much on the stage. Double-click on it in the Library panel and you will see on the timeline that we are actually inside it now; inside Scene 1, we are inside hd 1 turnaround. So let's make some layers in the Timeline to create spaces for all of these images. I will call the bottom one nothing. These are going to be just placeholders for the basic images. I am going to make a folder for these, and just drop them in there. And the top layer will be called labels, and the folder will be called reference, or ref.
It doesn't look like much right now, but bear with me. So let's just make some empty frames over here. Click F5. And what I am going to do is to create these poses for these slots for the A, B, C, D, so forth. So let's hit F7. Let's see. We will get it 1, 2, 3, frame between and another three, and we will just keep forward, so we have three in-between frames between each of the keys. Or if you want to do it quicker, simply grab these and hold Alt+Option and drag, so A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, back to A, and then we just get rid of what's left.
Now to make this a little more easier to navigate, I am going to make some labels. So click on the top layer of labels, and inside the Properties panel, we will type in a. Space a is easier because it makes it a little easier to see. And we will just keep doing this for the rest. Space b. These are completely non-functional. They are simply there for you as a visual guide. And I am going to make some blank keyframes here. And inside each one of these, I am going to drop these pre-created images.
I am going to roughly line them up so that the crosshair is between the eyes. I am just using the arrow keys on the keypad to move this around to where I like it. Let's do the same thing with the B. I am moving forward to the b frame, and from the Library, drag him down here. When I do this on the first pass, I don't need to be too specific about it; we are just getting them reasonably close. I'll move to the d and drag d on to the stage, and we just continue until we have them all in. And a will be the same as the beginning, so let's Alt+Option and drag that. And now when you play through, you begin to have a very rough idea about the effect they were looking for.
So let's zoom out a little bit, because we are a little bit close and I'd like to see him a little more full body. And again, during the course of this tutorial we are only going to be working on this area here. We are not going to be working on the body, but he is ghosted in right now, so that you have a rough idea about how the neck is going to align with the upper torso. And the other thing that will really help to make it solid is keeping the center of mass the same. So I am going to hold down the Shift and then push the arrow keys to make these larger movements so the center of mass is pretty much in the middle of his skull, and just keep nudging.
This should already look at lot smoother. Now, the critical thing to watch out for is that the level of his head, the height, is the same. It should be consistent all the way throughout, so let's make some rulers. So go to View > Rulers, and if you simply drag, you will see the line. And we can switch the View > Rulers off; at this point they're not needed. So let's zoom in pretty close. I am going to pick a point that we think is really critical, and I'd say that bottom of the eyes will be a good one. And then as we move through, you can see how on this one, he slipped a little bit.
Let's go back there. So again, just use the arrow keys, with Shift that you want to move by larger amounts. Let's zoom out and have a look at that. Looking better already, and you will notice on some of these that the eyes aren't visible, so it wasn't possible when they got to here to use them as a guide. So what we can do is simply move the ruler and pick a different point, let's say the middle point of the nose, and maybe the bottom of the hair. I was very careful when I sketched out this head to make sure that it was pretty exact, so I'm ashamed to let that work go to waste.
Let's move that head down. So I am just going to zoom out again. Now as I scroll through, I am watching to make sure that we don't have any horrible bumps. This is where you really want to take your time, get picky. You might want to move this line up, say to the top of the head. And I think perhaps on this one we can move them up a little bit, and if you are happy with that then simply drag the line off, and that, to me, looks pretty good.
Now for the rest of the course, I strongly recommend, if you want to follow my work as closely as possible, that you use the next exercise file in your folder, and this file will be available to everybody, even those who don't normally have access to the project files, because I want everybody who does this to be following along as precisely as possible. So you will have access to a file called 01_02, and that will give you my fully positioned project file.
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