Flash Tweening Flash

You can use Flash tweening to help your cartooning. Now that you’ve created some symbols, such as the walk cycle, here’s where you can save a great deal of time making them slink and prance across the view without drawing every tedious frame. The hard hand drawing work is done, now you’ll choreograph the character.

Because once you’ve built a library of various walks, runs, turnarounds, and stand stills (a piece of walk cycle that ends with the character just standing still), you can use computer power to help you tell a story. Remember that you can always create more symbols of the character as needed—in fact, you can steal from other symbols to create new ones.

Panning
Use the panning techniques discussed earlier to get your walking symbol looping, stationary in the middle of the view. Then move the background elements to give the illusion of the camera following alongside the walking character, a sort of dolly. It usually requires a little experimentation to get the motion of the background to match the stride of the step. If the timing isn’t correct, you’ll notice that the feet will seem to skate across the ground. To fix this, adjust the speed of the background by either increasing or decreasing the number of frames in the tween of the background. Another trick is to set the walking symbol to start at one end of the view and proceed to the other by tweening the symbol itself. What’s really cool is to use a mixture of both. Again, to get it just right, experiment.

Instance swapping
There comes a time when the star of your show must stop walking (or running, or whatever he’s doing) and reach into his pocket to pull out a hotrod car and make his getaway. This is where instance swapping comes in. At the end of the tween, create a keyframe on the next frame (the frame immediately following the last keyframe in the tween), and then turn off motion tweening for that keyframe in the Frame panel. This causes the symbol to stop at whichever frame the cycle ended on in the timeline. To swap the symbol, follow these steps:

  1. Click the symbol to select it.
  2. Open the Instance Panel (click the Instance tab on the Frame Panel that you have open).
  3. Click the Swap Symbol button.
  4. In the Swap Symbol dialog, select the symbol that you want to replace it with (in this case, the one where he reaches into his pocket).
  5. Click OK.

If you loop the play of the symbol, you can also choose the frame on which the symbol’s cycle will start. Other choices are limiting the symbol to play once and playing just a single frame (still). You must be sure that Synchronize is unchecked in the Frame Panel otherwise your newly chosen instance will not show up; the old one will remain there instead.

This procedure may have been more easily accomplished in Flash 4. The new work flow is impacted by these considerations: (a) In the Frame Panel, under the options for Motion Tweens, the Synchronize option now replaces the former Synchronize Symbols option but it does function the same. By Right-clicking/ Ctrl+ clicking a frame to invoke the contextual pop-up menu, and then selecting Create Motion Tween, you’ll find that Synchronize and Snap checked by default in the Frame Panel. (b) However, if you select the frame and then navigate to the Frame Panel and create a motion tween there, then Synchronize and Snap are not checked by default. The second procedure is the preferred method for accomplishing the swap symbols technique described previously. To repeat, when you change a symbol instance on a motion tween, if the Synchronize box is checked, the old symbol instance will not be replaced with the new one which is Swap Symbol failure. (c) Furthermore, double-clicking an instance will no longer bring up the desired instance controls. You must now fish those controls out of the Instance Panel. The Swap Symbol button is the little button at the far left with an icon of little arrows, a square, and a circle.

Finally, unless you’ve drawn all your symbols to perfect scale with each other, this new symbol may not fit exactly. No problem! To fix this, simply enable onion skinning from the Main Timeline, and set it to show the previous frame (the frame the tween ended on). Now you can align and scale the new symbol to match the ghosted image. We can’t begin to tell you how much you’ll use this simple instance swapping function when you create your cartoon. This is one of the unique functions that sets Flash apart from all other cel-type animation programs. After you have a modest library of predrawn actions, the possibilities for combining them are endless.

Motion guides
Although not terribly useful for tweening a walking character, the Flash motion guide function is tops for moving inanimate objects. If your character needs to throw a brick, a straight tween between points and some blur lines will do fine. If he needs to lob that brick over a fence to clang a pesky neighbor, then the use of motion guides is the ticket. Here’s how:

  1. Turn the brick into a graphic symbol if you haven’t already. This makes it easier to make changes to the brick later.
  2. Create a Motion Guide layer.
  3. Draw an arch from start to destination. This is best done by drawing a line with the Line Tool and then retouching it with the Arrow Tool until you have bent it into the desired arch. This method keeps the motion smooth. (To use the Pencil Tool to draw the motion guide would create too many points and can cause stuttering in the motion.)

Although your brick is flying smoothly, something’s wrong. Again, the computer made things too darned smooth. You could insert a few keyframes in the tween and rotate slightly here and there to give it some wobble. But that’s still not convincing. You want this brick to mean business! Here’s what to do: Because the brick is already a symbol, go back to the brick symbol and edit it, adding a few more frames. Don’t add more than three or four frames, otherwise this will slow it down. At each of these new frames, mess up the brick a little here and there; differ the perspectives a little from one frame to another. Then, when you go back to your Main Timeline, the brick should be twitching with vengeance as it sails towards its target.



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