Rigging a Face in Flash Professional
Illustration by John Hersey

Fine-tuning expressions


Rigging a Face in Flash Professional

with Dermot O' Connor

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Video: Fine-tuning expressions

Now that we have the face acting and the mouth articulated, let's go and see if we can add some extra details that really polish it off. So if we double-click on the facial acting symbol so we are in the right place, being careful to never go into the turnaround by mistake, we have the three extra expressions--jubilant, furious, and puzzled--working into and out of our basic happy. So lets take a look at the reference images for a moment. And as you can see, there are crease lines at the edge of the mouse and underneath the eyes.
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  1. 14m 16s
    1. Introduction
    2. What you should know
      2m 0s
    3. Setting up Flash
      8m 35s
    4. Dos and don'ts
      2m 59s
  2. 59m 26s
    1. Establishing the directions
      7m 9s
    2. Setting up layers for the head
      6m 58s
    3. Drawing the head
      19m 2s
    4. Creating the mouth
      11m 27s
    5. Drawing the eyes
      4m 31s
    6. Animating the eye blink
      10m 19s
  3. 48m 0s
    1. Creating happy mouth dialogue shapes, part one
      10m 24s
    2. Creating happy mouth dialogue shapes, part two
      7m 43s
    3. Creating mad or sad mouth dialogue shapes
      10m 7s
    4. Creating neutral mouth dialogue shapes
      7m 36s
    5. Building unique mouth shapes
      12m 10s
  4. 29m 27s
    1. Creating jubilant expressions
      11m 47s
    2. Creating furious expressions
      6m 4s
    3. Fine-tuning expressions
      11m 36s
  5. 1h 9m
    1. Clock rotation demonstration
      2m 23s
    2. Creating the twelve-o'clock pose
      9m 2s
    3. Creating the six-o'clock pose
      5m 19s
    4. Creating the three-o'clock pose
      10m 16s
    5. Creating the nine-o'clock pose
      9m 35s
    6. Creating the remaining poses
      13m 17s
    7. Fine-tuning the head rotation
      11m 54s
    8. Fixing layering issues
      7m 42s
  6. 2h 10m
    1. Introducing the turnaround
      2m 55s
    2. Creating the B head (3-quarter)
      6m 45s
    3. Creating the C head (profile)
      8m 51s
    4. Creating the D head (3-quarter rear)
      13m 2s
    5. Creating the E head (rear)
      8m 59s
    6. In-betweening symbols manually
      9m 58s
    7. Creating the H head
      6m 41s
    8. Creating the G head
      11m 33s
    9. Creating the F head
      19m 18s
    10. Creating the B mouth (3-quarter)
      13m 41s
    11. Creating the C mouth (profile)
      14m 33s
    12. Adding detail to the C mouth
      7m 42s
    13. Creating other mouths
      6m 28s
  7. 54m 24s
    1. Putting together a head rotation
      14m 29s
    2. Moving frames between symbols to make a rotation
      10m 23s
    3. Using the rig with audio
      14m 59s
    4. Adding expressions to the animation
      14m 33s
  8. 1m 0s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 0s

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Watch the Online Video Course Rigging a Face in Flash Professional
6h 46m Intermediate Sep 19, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Setting up layers for the head
  • Animating blinks
  • Fine-tuning expressions
  • Fixing layering issues
  • Adding expressions to the animation
3D + Animation
Flash Professional
Dermot O' Connor

Fine-tuning expressions

Now that we have the face acting and the mouth articulated, let's go and see if we can add some extra details that really polish it off. So if we double-click on the facial acting symbol so we are in the right place, being careful to never go into the turnaround by mistake, we have the three extra expressions--jubilant, furious, and puzzled--working into and out of our basic happy. So lets take a look at the reference images for a moment. And as you can see, there are crease lines at the edge of the mouse and underneath the eyes.

These really will help to give us the feeling of like a fleshy mass rather than just a bunch of vector lines moving around the place. Okay, so let's go back and have a look at the color again. So what we need to do is to add these lines, and if we are going to add lines, I like to know where additions are. For example, these additions are going to be in the turnaround symbol. This symbol simply doesn't need them. They are only going to exist, for the most part, in the Facial acting symbol or comp. So let's go in there and see how we should add these in such a way that we know there they've extra.

They are unique. So I think the best place to put them would be maybe 4 layers beneath the hair top level. And in order to identify them as additional layers, let's give them uppercase names, and I reserve upper case as a flag, basically, as a little red light letting me know this is something that I have added for a special purpose. So the top layer is called MOUTH R; beneath that, MOUTH L; beneath that, CHEEK R; and beneath that, CHEEK L.

And let's color the outlines medium green, medium blue, dark green, and dark blue, and let's put in some F7 for blank keyframes. Great. So lets start drawing. Quickest way to do this is going to outline mode, padlock everything except the layer we want to work on, and go to the jubilant.

Zoom in, and let's just draw with the Line tool. And let's put Snap on, Snap to Objects. I think we can color this, the probably gray area can be okay. It wasn't closed. Let's close the edge and fill, and I'll double-click on that line to get rid of it, and there we go. I'll do the same thing on the other side, and that we'll be the MOUTH L.

I have got a pink color, paint that in, and we can get rid of those lines. And we'll do the same thing now for the CHEEK R. This will be a slightly different in that it has to have two separate areas. The first will be the dark line, and that will define the actual line that you see here. But we also need to hide the white of the eye, this area here.

So let's expand that to this point. That should do it. And let's color that in, again, with the dark here and fleshy color which I want to put in here to hide the eye. Let's unpadlock everything and we'll sample that with the eyedropper. There is our skin color and then we will paint it in there. And now we've that area masked out--well, not masked out, but covered up. And now I want to duplicate this to cover this side, so that's just Alt, Option, and drag, Shift with the Arrow keys, Modify > Transform > Flip Horizontal. There we go.

Let's zoom out. Now, as you can see, they pop in, and we need to go a little more naturalistic than that. Actually, now that I look at it, I think these creases will be better served if they were a little closer to the edge of the mouth. Okay, so let's copy these, Alt, Option, drag, go in tight, and we can click. Actually, let's padlock everything again except these four layers and just drag the crease to where you want it to be.

Now let's activate shape tweening so we can test this as we go. And already you're seeing a flicker right there, which is just good. I am glad you are, because you see the one on the left, the right eye, his physical right eye, is working fine even without moving. The one on the left is actually misbehaving even though it's not moving or changing or doing anything differently. This is the mystery of shape tweening, so I'll show you how in each case we can handle this. So first things first. We don't need these creases to be visible on the standard beginning, so let's hide them.

And how we'll do that is we will simply paint them with skin color. And now they'll fade in, so that's now it taken care off. Let's hide them. Now let's go in very close to this eye and on the beginning, this is the CHEEK R level, let's pull it down a little and in. And let's do this in outline so we can really having much closer look at what's happening. And what I want to do is to have this completely away from the eye so it's not visible at all in the standard position.

We'll take care of the color in a moment. We'll do the same thing on the blue eye. Okay, let's see. And suddenly, it seems to be behaving again. I have no idea why and then I don't think anybody will. Some things work in shape tweening; some things don't, and a lot of times you are simply playing with different combinations. I wish it was more stable than this, but these are just the vagaries of the thing. Right, so now the question is, how do we hide this? If I color it with the skin color, then that will turn this into one big shape and the shape tweening will become unstable.

So we need to keep this as a completely separate area. So the best way, I think, to do this is to make it that color that's extremely close to this color but just slightly different by the tiniest of amounts. So be sure we have this color activated, hit Escape so it's deselect, and then let's go into the fill and select this widget here so we can play with it. And on this side, just move it down slightly enough, just to change these numbers by 1 or 2. Click OK and now we fill that area.

They look the same, but they are not. You can see we have two completely different colors there. They are not completely different, but the human eye will never detect that. We'll do the same thing on the other side, and now everything fades in. And let's unhide the creases here. This is the trickiest part of the whole procedure are the fade-ins and the fade-outs. I say tricky; it's still pretty minor. It's so worth to see these appear and then disappear into the relaxed state. So that's that.

Now the one thing I want to draw your attention to is the glitch that we saw earlier on the left cheek. If that persists and you simply can't deal with it, then the other solution is to split both of these areas onto their own layer. I tried to keep them on the one layer for simplicity's sake, but at some point if I hit the wall where it simply won't do what I want it to do, then that's the solution, to separate the light from the dark. So with that, we will proceed and do one more of these. And I think if we take these, Alt, Option, from the very first frame. Actually, no, it's not.

I'll take the second and drag them to here. And let's padlock everything again, just to be on the safe side, because it's so easy to accidentally modify or select something else. And let's create a shape tween so we can scrub through, and there is that clear glitch again. And let's get Snap off so I can have a finer control over this.

With these ones, I find it's very easy for this guy to spin around 360 degrees if you move the corners too much. So there is a kind of a limitation as to how aggressive you can be with moving the edges of the mouth. You'll find your own limitations with that. The CHEEK R now. I need to have look at what the reference was. Yeah, the reference on this, the crease, was going down this way. So let's do that.

Super. And on the other side, the crease is moving a little over that way. And here we see the little wonkiness. So what I am going to do, so you can see the process, I am just going to split this myself. So right now it's CHEEK Left, so let's make a new layer, put it below. CHEEK L skin we'll call it. Let's bring this out a little bit. And the quickest way to do this is simply to select all of the upper layer and just duplicate it, Alt, Option and drag. And to be thorough about this, let's just look at this layer completely by itself.

In Outline, I want to get rid of the upper layer completely, so that we're just leaving yourselves with the skin tone. And on the layer above that, we will do the opposite, so that we're just left with the line. And now if you look at it in outline, perfect. So sometimes that's just a sacrifice that generates one extra layer.

I like to keep the layer as few as possible, for obvious reasons. We're already filling half the screen, most of the screen here, but sometimes it's just not worth the time to mess with it any more than that. And you can see already from this transition to this one, it looks really great. You really feel like he has cheeks and muscle mass there. So the other thing I'd do, be sure that we end on the same thing too. So let's just copy the beginning to the end, this one as well, and switch off Shape Tweening here.

And I'll leave it to you as an exercise to add your own creases wherever you think you can get away with, and I think you will find there might be issues with some of the creases around the mouth if you push them too hard. Do it; push too hard. Find out how far you can get with this before it spins. You'll see pretty quickly what the constraints are. It's good to know what the programs breaking point is so that you know not to exceed it when you begin laying out these kinds effects with characters. So with that done, I think we're ready to proceed to the next chapter, in which we will articulate and pivot the head to give it even more flexibility and natural quality.

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