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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.
By this point, we have animated our character and it's time to do some little fine-tuning on the walk. So let's open our file, number 17. Let's have a look inside. Now, when you do an animation in 3D or traditionally, you are always told and in 3D it's kind of done for you to a degree, to move things in arcs. So, things in nature, they do tend to move in arced paths of various kinds. So, in this case what we should be seeing for the head is a kind of a bounce.
So let's just look at the head layer, and I am going to onionskin the whole thing, and it might appear that it's moving in a sort of an arc, but really if we look a little closer, it's not quiet as good as we would like. So, let's just look inside the head and I am going to guide out all of these layers. Actually what I am going to do is temporarily delete them. Don't worry. We'll undo this in a bit. Let's just draw a crosshair around close to the center of the head. So this is the path that we created when we animated the head.
So, let's hit F6 and now we'll look at the onionskin, and you know, that is not an arc path. that is a series of zigzags. So, what we need to do is to try to make this more arcing and less straight. So, if we look at the points, there is our contact. Let me lock this down. If we select Anchor Onion, now we can move through this without changing it. So there is our contact pose with the blue line.
There is our recoil position. There is the passing position. There is our high point. So as you can see, we have a couple of options. We can reposition each one by hand or we could put in a motion guide, lots of different things. It's important to figure out which one we get the most for our effort. So, if we did some certain extra smaller keyframes and just tweaking some of these positions. So let's say on the first step, we might take our passing position, which is here, just move it up a little bit, and there is our high point.
That should be fine. There is our contact position. We might even add a second keyframe in here to round these lines off. Now, if we add keyframes into this part, we are starting to see something that's much more natural looking. We achieve that simply by adding and playing with some other positions here. So that's how we are going to do. So let me hit Undo a lot. I am going to Ctrl+Z and get rid of all this. Okay. So let's click on our strange little crosshair shape right now and this is very important to work like this.
Go to your Preferences panel and to work in this method, make sure that your Contact-sensitive Selection and Lasso tools is off and that you are at Object-level Undo. That'll help when you are working on this. Your Undo History is now isolated inside each symbol and that means you can do drastic things inside it, like delete the entire layer set. Don't worry. They're one Undo button, Ctrl+Z, Ctrl+Z, away from being back again and then now we can Ctrl+Y to bring the crosshair back.
We can work independently of -- let me get the cross back again. There we go. Okay, so, Ctrl+Z and Ctrl+Y. So now we can work with this crosshair. It might be a little bit easier to visualize this. So, what I am going to do is just make a few of these and this way I can see the overall arc pattern a little bit better between the contact position and the recoil.
That seemed to be a really nice spot for fine-tuning this using the numeric key, and remember, any change you make to the first pose must be made to the last one. So, be very careful with that. Okay, so let's keyframe everything. Well, first of all, we will activate Edit Multiple Frames and now let's hit F6 and now we can see that that's much nicer. I hit Ctrl+Z. We might even add- - We wanted possibly one more in here.
Now, as you can see, as you add the keyframes, they appear in the multiple view that we've selected. Here is another. So the more of these you add, the more you round it, but I don't want to have to add that unique keyframe for the entire timeline. That is going to be beyond tedious. So, I think that is a vast improvement already over the first pass that we had. Once we have that, let's go back into the head symbol, hit Ctrl+Z until we resurrect our head. There he is.
Okay, we can delete that temporary cross layer. Now, let's switch off the Edit Multiple Frames, have a look at this and see what it looks like. Okay, that's looking nice. Now let's see how it integrates with the body. Now, you are going to find that by doing this that the head no longer cooperates with the body. It seems to be a little too high, because we have been pushing these arcs a little bit. So, either we bring the head down, or we push the body and neck up a little bit.
So I think the lesser of two evils here is to select the entire head, Edit Multiple Frames, make sure you got the entire Timeline, bring them down by a couple of clicks. Okay, that seems to be seated a little bit better and we've got that alterations we want to make here such as maybe move the head forward a little bit. Either we alter the neck symbol to pull this back a little bit. We could also do the same test on the body. The body, don't forget, is also subject to the same constraints arc-wise as the head.
So let's Edit Multiple Frames on that and have a look at it, and if you follow these corner points, you might see more of that. You'll see little less of that happening on the upper body because don't forget, we've actually rotated it left and right and that just create some natural arcing. But let's test it. It should be interesting, at least on the core of the symbol, the same thing. I am going to make a little cross and a guide out to the body. Let me put that little cross back in. Now, if we hit F6, it's a little bit less geometrical but not quite arcing enough.
So we can find these positions that can be pushed a little bit, we soften that straight line. Now, let's hit F6. It's a small change but it actually looks a lot nicer now. So now, let's go back into the torso body, get rid of that temporary cross layer, and guide out the other. You can keep the cross layer again if you think you are going to be going back-and-forth between these two a lot. Let's switch off Edit Multiple Frames, see what this looks like, and that's going to affect the neck perhaps.
It doesn't seem too bad, and now let's see the entire thing. So now we have an arcing torso and an arcing head. Those are the big areas that would catch the eye. So that would be one fine-tuning, call it arcing, and we can push this a bit further. We can do the same thing on the lower torso and watch how each leg pivots. There is no end as to how much detail you can add to a walk and we could keep doing this for hours, making it finer and finer.
We have to draw the line somewhere, but something to watch out for with your walks, especially if your motions are this broad. The other walk cycle that we'll be animating later is animating in place. It doesn't have quite so many of these issues. Well, this is something that's going to appear more when you animate your character moving across the screen. There are a couple of details I want to correct on this, but for now let's save this project and we'll move on to another fine-tuning pass.
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