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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.
Okay. So it's time to add some little fine details to our rig. the head is done, the body is done. Let's go into the Head symbol and we are going to first approach the mouth and convert the mouth from something that's a static object into something with layers. Upper lip, lower lip, teeth, a tongue, that we can then have setup so that we can animate them later on. What we can do is just double-click on the Head symbol. Ctrl+3 to Zoom-in, and let's double- click on the Mouth symbol, and then we can Zoom-in, Z on the keyboard, make it nice and big.
So what we are going to need are a series of layers. Right now it's just, like I said earlier, it's a placeholder, something to show us what it is, the general color of it and the position. We'll need a separate symbol just for this crease, certainly an upper lip, lower lip, and we'll keep this lower lip shadow as its own symbol, and obviously he will need teeth, upper teeth, lower teeth, a tongue, and some kind of shape for the inner mouth. So let's make those layers. About 6 or 7 should do it. I am going to padlock the reference layer, keep that safe.
So let's make the top layer the crease and then the upper lip. So I call it lip upper. Call it what it is and then where it is. I found this a good way of naming things. Then lip lower. At the very bottom certainly we have this thing here. The shadow. It's nice to build a system that helps you remember where things are. So since this thing is the lowest point physically, and keep it lowest down here too if we can do it. So that's the lip shadow and it would be the teeth, which will be inside here.
Teeth upper, teeth lower, and beneath them there will be a tongue layer, and beneath that, there will be the mouth inner. That will be the mouth shape when he opens his mouth. We'll need a mask layer as well, because these teeth obviously can't be flapping around outside this area. So we're going to have a mask layer as well. The teeth, the tongue, and the mouth inner will all be underneath this mask.
So that's going to be our basic structure and as we've done before, these awful random color layers should be replaced by something a little easier on the eye. So let's make the upper maybe dark green, and make the lower lip be dark blue, and maybe the teeth upper can follow the same basic color scheme. That will be the medium green. The teeth lower will be a medium blue. We can make the tongue layer. Like the tongue will be, maybe a reddish color, and the mouth inner color maybe a bit darker.
If I ever make masks, I like to make them white. Selecting the mask area, usually something that needs to be done pretty often and it makes it jump out to me visually. Makes it easier to find. Let's label it and the crease on the far right, make that green as well. This might seem pointless, but this will really help when we begin lining the object. The lip shadow. Also make it a reddish color. Okay! Now, we are ready to start. So we have colored and named the layers properly.
So let's make the easy one first. The crease. So using the old familiar Selection tool, the Line tool, we can begin on this. I am going to outline the mouth and snap this on. That's good. So let's just begin drawing. Same as before. We want these shapes to be clean, crisp. Don't have crazy amount of points. So we can padlock that, maybe outline it, and I think this layer will be easier to read if we had it in a light gray outline color. Here we go. So, the lip upper layer.
Now, this is something that we'll be doing in a later chapter, but this mouth is ultimately going to be tweening quite a bit. I've found my experience to be that if we make the geometry a particular number of points, in this case three separate lines constituting the form of the mouth. You will see what I mean when I complete this. It's a very solid, very stable form for shape tweening this object. So we are going to do that for the upper and the lower lip.
Let's switch off Snap to Grid. That's been causing problems, and we'll switch off Snap to Objects. Let's position that. Then we can try to pull it in a little bit to match the original shape a bit better, and again taking care to make sure that these points are not deleted by Flash, which it likes to do. So that's pretty good. Now, I am going to duplicate this for the lower level. Padlock the upper. Just pull it down.
It might be a bit clearer to see if we can fill this in. The upper lip, the lower lip, and the crease and we'll outline them again. So the other thing that's easy to do, this lip here. Copy that, that's Ctrl+C, and then Ctrl+Shift+V to paste it in place. So it's now out here on its own layer. Check to make sure it's a clean shape. 2 points, 2 lines. That's great! Padlock that.
So the next thing that we need to add are things that really we don't have reference for and those are the teeth layers, and the tongue layer, and the inner mouth shape. So we can pretty much have a good idea about where the teeth should go. Use the Rectangle tool to create an outline of the teeth layer and these will be white of course. I want to keep the shape of the teeth fairly simple for now. You can imagine if we zoom out, imagine we are seeing through the character, we are seeing his teeth as they would more or less appear. He'd have gums up here.
We could even add them in if we were going to do extreme dialogue that was going to open the mouth very wide. But for now, I am just going to keep this shape very basic. I'd go to Outline, do the same addition for the lower teeth, and maybe have them overlap a bit, as in reality. Your lower teeth are nested inside your upper teeth. Double-click on that line and get rid of it. Okay.
So for now, that's fine. Now, we can hide those teeth. They're getting in the way of seeing the rest. We also need a tongue layer. Number of ways we can do that. We can continue to use the Rectangle tool. Give it a more tongue like color. If you have a tablet or Cintiq, you might find that easier to sketch this in and use that sketch as a reference. You might get a more organic shape, but it's a pretty basic form of the tongue. So I am going to follow it through so that we can see right to the bottom.
Essentially imagine if you're going to open this mouth to an extreme position, which we will be doing later on, something down to here. So that would be nice if the tongue doesn't get cut off halfway through. You might even want to add a little crease in the tongue here. It'll help it to look more natural. See from that maybe a little bit of our highlight layer in here, and select that color and brighten it up a little bit. Now, if you're going to do work in here, brightening the tones, it's nice to have the H selected. It's got finer control over the brightness of the hue of the color you are using.
So that's the tongue level and then the mouth inner, which will be the same as the mask layer. Actually, it will be pretty much the same as the outer shapes of these lines here. The top of the green, and the bottom of the blue. So, you hold down the Shift key and we select all of them, Ctrl+C, Copy, also accessible here. Then paste in place. Ctrl+Shift+V. You can see already the complete silhouette of the mouth. It might be necessary that we're on as we color it slightly differently, if it bleeds over the edge here, to pull it in a little bit.
But for now, we're more than happy with this. So let's color that. I am going to give it a very dark, one of these colors maybe, and then we can duplicate this. Holding down the Alt+Option key, drag it up to the mask. And there we go. Of course, you notice the teeth and the tongue disappear, but they're all there. And the beauty of this process is that if later on we want to move the mouth around, pull it out of position, and create different mouth shapes, our inner teeth, the tongue are already in place.
So we won't be opening this to see an empty space. So it becomes a question of working with the mask, so that we can see the various mouth shapes. It's a very simple demonstration. I am going to undo all this. But the essential anatomy of the mouth is not completely established. In a subsequent section of the course, we're going to add six completely separate mouth shapes using these layers and we'll be able to use them to create our dialogue and various expressions and acting for the character.
So, the next thing to do before we proceed is get rid of the lines. So, to do that, the quickest way is zoom out, select the Eraser tool, and erase lines. Make sure that's selected. Move over that. Then if you access the padlock to activate the mask, it looks exactly the same. We've started that with this. We still have it. The difference is before, we were looking at one layer, which is really good for nothing, and now we have eight or nine layers with which we can begin to work and animate and to create different expressions and states of being for the character.
So now, we'll move on, do our first actual animation, which will be adding eyelids and then an eye blink for the eyes.
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