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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 have our character rigged and all of his symbols and comps have been named and set up. So now let's pose him into a nice position. So let's open our file, character_head _turn_03 in your Exercise folder, and let's move into the symbol. So here are our rough thumbnails. What we are going to be doing is more or less keep his feet planted. Trying to start him in a much more interesting position than this generic vertical uninteresting pose. That's where our model sheet pose or a zero pose is supposed to be, but we want to find something a little more fun.
The other thing would be to make the head closer to the start position, because imagine his upper body looking off somewhere here. So let's do that. Some of this is pretty easy. Let's go into the foot and Modify > Transform > Flip Horizontal. That's a slightly better pose. More balance maybe. So, lots of things that we can do here. But be sure if you are going to be moving the torso,and the head that we select everything and use the Free Transform. I am using the Shift key to select multiple objects and maybe the lower torso.
Let's pivot it around here. Let's give him a little more attitude perhaps. Let me grab the leg, and the other tool I like to use other than just rotating objects, that can be kind of unforgiving, is to use the Skew tool. Oops! If you hold down the Alt or Option key, you can skew from the other direction, where as if I just grab it like this, it skews around the pivot, the circle here. So Alt or Option is a very good tool to have, if you are going to be making your character skewed from side-to-side for example. So Alt or Option here again.
In the head, he is looking the wrong way for one. So let's go in here. I wanted to reverse the angle of the head, so around this pivot. But I also want to respect the center of mass of the head. There is an easier way of doing it. I am going to Edit, just by itself, or I could double-click on the head in the library. I'll copy all of the layers, and paste them into a single layer. Ctrl+Shift+V in place. Padlock that.
Now select all the layers beneath, Modify > Transform > Flip Horizontal and as you can see they're kind of off-center. So let's just pull it back in a little bit. There we go. Sow now if you compare with the other layer, they should be more of less occupying the same space. I think I like to move this layer over a little bit. I am using the arrow keys here. Good! So you might want to fine- tune the position of the head. Maybe tilt it back of it. We can do all the things like playing with the neck, skew that, and stretch it out a bit.
If you even had to make bigger changes for example, if I was going to make a huge change to this neck to really work with the new position, duplicate all, just duplicate. Again, call this headturn like all the other dupe symbols in the scene. The big change I'd like to make here would be just to make it work with this new angle a little bit better. If you wanted to, you can curve the neck a little bit. Everything is too geometrical there. Or if your angle changed, if you tilt it down, things like that. You can be quite flexible with this. Now let's move this arm a little bit. So let's rotate it and let's go in a little bit closer for that.
Now I did something when I set up this rig, and guess what happened? I have never done a rig where I didn't make a change once I began animating, and in retrospect this is a silly mistake. I've rigged the wrists on the hand layer and that's going to look bad when we start rotating this thing around the place. So what I should do really is have the wrist be part of the arm layer and completely separated from the hand. Look at this. That's not going to be fun. Let's very quickly go in here. I'll show you how to make this kind of change. This is the point.
Every time you do a rig, you'll do a couple of test animations with the rig and that's when you'll find "Oh yeah, yeah, I shouldn't have done that, and that was probably not the best choice." So let's make that outline. We'll go into the arm layer. We'll make a new layer, paste that, and just position it where you want the replacement to be. I am going to put it on the lower level, and let's put some lines in to break this up, Snap, and make the cut about there. Now we can delete the wrist. Let's try that.
Now we go into the hand layer and we do the opposite. We get rid of it. Maybe bring that point down to here. See what that looks like. Of course, we also have to check the pivot. Now the pivot might be-- or I think that should be fixed. There we go. I'll repeat that process over here. But let's say for now, I would like to tilt that hand. By layering that, we can make the forgiveness of the coverage a little more.
Okay, you might want to move these feet little further apart. Alt or Option to skew from the base into opposite side, because this is a bigger negative shape. Okay, so now he looks like he is a little more alert and more attentive. And these are the issues with, for example, correcting the rig on the wrist. Don't forget you have to map them onto any other symbol. So the corrections I made, I made to a duplicate symbol, the bd headturn symbol. So we'll have to copy them, and that's actually pretty easy.
Going to the body library, and so any changes you make on the fly that you want to duplicate onto the other. There is the arm, the arm right, and the arm right. There is the corrected one. So let's go into arm right headturn and copy this. That's the new wrist. Go to the original arm right and Ctrl+Shift+V. There it is. So one now matches the other, and make sure that the hand has been corrected. That we used the same hand for both. So that's just one small thing to keep in mind.
So now we have the body and better start position and ready to be moving. I am going to make the change to the other hand. I am going to correct that in the rig. You'll have that asset in your Exercise Files, and any other errors that I see creeping up in the process as we begin to animate I'll flag them. I'll explain them to you, what the corrections will be. So with that done, I think we are ready to go to the next step, which will be actually animating and posing out the other three keyframes and then beginning the process of animating our character from keyframe number 1 to keyframe number 4.
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