Frame-by-Frame Animation Flash

The most basic form of animation is frame-by-frame animation. Because frame-byframe animation employs unique drawings in each frame, it’s ideal for complex animations that require subtle changes for example, facial expression. However, frame-by-frame animation also has its drawbacks. It can be very tedious and timeconsuming to draw unique art for each frame of the animation. Moreover, all those unique drawings contribute to a larger file size. In Flash, a frame with unique art is called a keyframe. As shown below, frame-by-frame animation requires a unique drawing in each frame, which makes every frame a keyframe.

You can see the progression across seven frames because onion skinning has been activated. (Note the cursor, having just clicked the Onion Skinning button.)

You can see the progression across seven frames because onion skinning has been activated

All of the source files, including the files that were used to generate these shapes for the lunar phases, are included on the CD-ROM they’re in the frame-by-frame folder of the ch11 folder. The timeline shown above is from the file named moon_phases _fbf_ 06.fla. If you examine the files leading to this animation, you’ll gain an insight into one process for generating unique drawings. The final .SWF plays like an elapsed time-shot of the moon; 14 days in less than 1 second!

Adding keyframes
To add a keyframe to the timeline, select the frame that you would like to turn into a keyframe. Then, do one of the following:

  • Right-click or Control+click the keyframe and select Insert Keyframe.
  • Select Insert➪Keyframe from the main menu.
  • Press F6 on the keyboard.

Creating frame-by-frame animation
Here are the steps for creating a frame-by-frame animation:

  1. To create your own frame-by-frame animation, start by selecting the frame in which you’d like your frame-by-frame animation to begin.
  2. If it’s not already a keyframe, use Insert➪Keyframe (F6) to make it one.
  3. Then, either draw or import the first image for your sequence into this keyframe. Wherever possible, use symbols and flip, rotate, or otherwise manipulate them to economize on file size.
  4. Then click the next frame and make it another keyframe. Change the contents of this second keyframe.
  5. Continue to add keyframes and change the contents of each keyframe until you’ve completed the animation. Finally, test your animation by returning to the first keyframe and then selecting Control➪Play from the menu.


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