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- Setting up layers for the head
- Animating blinks
- Fine-tuning expressions
- Fixing layering issues
- Adding expressions to the animation
Skill Level Intermediate
First, let's take a look at Flash and set it up so that it closely matches the way I like to work. And if you have your own way that you set the program up that you are comfortable with, then please go with that, but I think it's important that you see the way I configure it, because there might be ways that the program behaves given my personal preferences. So let's just take a look at that. Everybody has access to this. It's the 0003 file. This comes with a default color. This is the palette that I work with all the time. It's a lot different from the usual one, so I just like to set this up as the default by going Save as Default, and then just click Yes.
So now every time you open a new Flash project in the future, you will see this instead of the old one. If you want the old color palette back, go to Web 216 and you will have the old familiar back, so now you have both. But let's go back to Load Default Colors and now you have this nicer selection. These colors at the top where you see these little three color sections of green, blue, yellow, and turquoise, and so forth, I will use these for good purposes later on when we begin to assign outline colors to the different layers. So they are not arbitrary. These will be important.
So the next thing to do is to set up the workspace because this workspace that we see here is fine, but probably not the most efficient for rigging a character, so let's click on the Window and go to Workspace and let's select Classic. I find this right out of the box is a much efficient way for me to model a character, but we can still improve it a little bit. So first thing is go to the toolbar and let's drag it over a little bit, so I see two rows, because we were losing a bit of real estate down here on the screen. The next thing we need to do is to open the Library panel, so let's go to Window > Library.
Now, I would like the Library panel to be as vertical as possible, because it's going to fill up pretty quickly. So let's grab this little empty gray space here and drag until you see a vertical blue line, and release, and now we have a nice tall Library column. I have given a good chunk of screen to the Properties panel and a good chunk to the Library, and we can then access these swatches here and here. Now the next thing I would like to do is to save this layout, because during the course of working oftentimes you might accidentally move panels around or get lost a little bit, So let's save this, now that we have one that we like for ourselves. Go back to Window > Workspace, and let's click New Workspace. And we will call this rigging_face. And now when you go back to Window > Workspace, you will see you have the options of selecting back to that. So you can toggle back and forth from Classic or any of the other layouts that suit, you, and you can create as many of these as you like.
The next thing to do is to adjust some of the preference settings, because some of these can be problematic. So the first thing to do is to switch Document-level Undo to Object-level Undo. And let's click OK there. What this means is that if you click Undo, each symbol that you create has its own dedicated Undo history, whereas if you have Document- level Undo, you going to have these very wild paths back through multiple symbols. Your entire Undo history is external to your symbol. That can be quite confusing.
So Object-level Undo helps you to keep track much, much more easily. It's much more forgiving of mistakes I find. The next thing to do is Contact- sensitive Selection and Lasso tools. Un-tick that. What this means is that you can select a symbol by drawing a box around the entire symbol, whereas with Contact-sensitive, you simply have to just cover a tiny little corner of it. I find it's too sensitive for my tastes. You may prefer the other, but I like to switch that off. And finally, you don't need to do this, but I will, because it will interfere with the recording.
I am going to click off Auto-Recovery, but I think you should probably keep it on if you like to have backups of your work, so click OK. The next thing to do will be to set some adjustments to the Snapping settings, and oftentimes you will find Snap Align and Snap to Guides are selected by the program. You don't need any of these; go up to Snap to Objects to begin with. Sometimes Snap to Grid, but there is no reason to have Snap Align or Snap to Guides or Snap to Pixels set on; they will only interfere with your work. Okay, so now let's adjust the stage a little bit.
I am going to zoom back out. Let's go to the Properties panel. Make sure that you've set it to 640 x 480 and your Frame rate is 30 and that way you will match my project. Another thing that I like to do is to have the grid visible. So right-click on the stage, go to Grid > Show Grid. And your grid color may vary from mine, but let's go to Grid and Edit the Grid now. I will make sure that each grid unit is 20 x 20 pixels and your Color, maybe this is a little bit too light, so let's pick one of the darker grays. Click OK.
The reason why I do this is I like to have just a visual cue that there is empty space, and it's a bit like the black-and-white checker square on Photoshop if you have a transparent level, rather than just having an empty, blank white screen. It's very easy I find to get lost so, you may like it 20 x 20 or 40 x 40, or maybe you don't need the grid at all, but that's why you will be seeing me with the grid. That's something that I do deliberately. One more recent change that might not be familiar, if you remember the older versions of Flash, the Work Area setting is now called Pasteboard, and Pasteboard is just a change in name.
This constricts that work area to what you are working on. And if you like that then you can activate it there or switch it off as you need. So now I am going to go to some third-party extensions that I like very much. So let's go to Firefox, or your favorite browser, and the main site that I use for extensions is toomonkey.com. And these are free, easy to download and install. So let's click on his extensions link, and you will see a big collection of them here. I am not going to go through many of these because there are simply too many, but the one that I find very useful for me is called FrameEDIT.
So you download that. And then the next big link that I will be using is from animator davelogan.com, and the extension that you want here is called Keyframe Jumper. So we download that. What Keyframe Jumper does is instead of just moving forward on the timeline by one frame at a time, it takes you back and forth to the next or the previous keyframe, and this makes it much, much easier if you are animating to go from key to key rather than having to scrub through every single in-between frame; it's a wonderful plug-in.
If you are not sure how to install them, it's very simple. First of all, I suspect we are probably going to have to switch off Flash, so let's just go over to that. And in search field type in Adobe Extension, and that's the Adobe Extension Manager. Or you can usually just double-click on the extensions that you have downloaded to your computer. And let's double-click on the other. Click Accept and now we have them, so now we can close this, and let's restart Flash.
So I will start a new empty project, just to get rid of this area here. To find the commands you just installed, click on Commands on the menu bar, and there is frameEdit, and the Keyframe extension has come in as Next Keyframe and Previous Keyframe. This is how they will appear onto the Commands menu, and this is where all your commands will go. So let's map these onto keys for our keyboard shortcut. That's easy to use. So go to Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts, and you will find them under the Commands menu. frameEdit is the first one to apply.
We are not allowed to mess with the Adobe standard, so first of all, we have to duplicate this, and let's call it the rigging shortcut. You can name it what you like. And now, any key that I press here will be automatically detected by the program, so I am going to pick the bracket key, or the question mark, and hit Change. Now the next one to map is Next Keyframe, then the shortcut, and click on the apostrophe key. Hit Change. Next, select Previous Keyframe. Hit the Plus key and select the semicolon key and hit Change, and now we click OK.
To show you what this looks like on the graphic of the keyboard, these are built-in shortcuts to go back 1 frame and forward 1 frame on the timeline. You don't need to mess with them. They are already there. Frame edit in has now be mapped on to the question mark. And to go back one keyframe and forward one keyframe, you simply have to push your fingers up and over by one and a half keys, so it's a very quick and easy way to toggle your way around the Timeline. That covers us and hopefully gets you more less onto the same page that I will on as I proceed through the rest of the course.