Animating with Adobe CC: Part 3 – Animating with symbols in Flash CC

 Jan 10, 2017

In part 3 of my Animating with Adobe CC series, we will be looking at animating with Graphic Symbols in Flash CC.

Now that we have a library of the character assets, we will create a separate Graphic Symbol for the walk cycle animation. Select the Insert tab and select New Symbol. In the New Symbol window, provide the name "Walk Cycle", change the Type to Graphic Symbol and click OK.

On the frame by frame Timeline, you will find the key Frame 1 and Layer 1 generated by default. Double click the Layer 1 name and replace the name with "Head". Press enter to confirm. From the Library, drag the Head Graphic Symbol onto the middle of the stage. You will now see from the Timeline that the Frame 1 is no longer hollow, but filled with the Head symbol. You can drag and drop other facial elements or symbols into the key frame1 of the Head layer, but eventually we will transfer those to their own layer in the Head Symbol.

In the bottom left-hand corner, create a New Layer and give the layer another name of a character part. From the Library, drag and drop the Graphic symbol onto the Stage and place the part in its respective position. Repeat these steps until we have a completed character on the Stage via the Graphics Symbols, all of which are placed in separately named layers so we can manipulate for our walk cycle.

When using Flash CC, the reason you would create separate Graphic Symbols of animated elements is so that you can edit the existing, and at the same time, generate new symbols based on the existing ones. By either double clicking the placed Graphic Symbol on the Stage or from the Library, you can enter into the symbol for further editing to ensure any mismatched areas (particularly the lines) are corrected for the character. You will notice the enhanced view of your entered symbol while in the Walk Cycle graphic symbol, since the rest of the symbols are displayed in an opaque manner.

To edit the graphic inside the symbol, simply double click the selection and, in a fluid approach, you can now edit the corners and lines by dragging and dropping. Now that you have ensured your symbols are placed correctly whilst editing them where required, double click anywhere on the stage to exit from the symbol and to return to the Walk Cycle symbol.

Delete any facial elements such as the ears and eyes by double clicking the Head Symbol on the Stage to enter into the symbol. We will create separate layers similar to before of the facial elements such as the eyes, ears and mouth and possibly any other accessories, such as the sun glasses, so that we can manipulate each element for the animated head. By creating separate layers of elements in separate symbols, it will allow us to focus on certain animated elements of what will become the entire animation. As a result you will eventually have Graphic symbols within Graphic symbols to better control the level of animation.

In the top of the left hand tool bar select the Free Transform tool (or use the shortcut Q) to select the graphic symbol where we will reposition the center pivot point to the appropriate location that will allow us to rotate correctly to form the animation. Alter the position of the pivot point for all elements of the Walk cycle symbol and Head symbol.

Let’s start animating the head first with perhaps eye blinks and minor mouth movements that will simply continue to loop with however long the walk cycle will go for.

Now that we are in the Head Symbol, in which we have separate layers of symbols including the Eye and Mouth symbols, let’s create the animation via the frame by frame timeline. With 25 frames we will create a continuous loop of the blinking eye as a part of the walk cycle animation. On the Timeline, select Frame 25 of the very first layer and, holding onto the Shift key, select Frame 25 of the last layer to select Frame 25 for all layers. From the selected frames press the F6 key to create the key frames.

Since the Eye layer in the Head symbol is where we placed the Eye symbol, let’s double click the Eye symbol to enter into it to animate a loop of the blinking eye. Once again, it goes back to the approach whereby symbols within symbols will allow us to focus on the animated elements of what will form the animation. Inside the Eye symbol, create 25 Frames for all the layers of the Head Symbol and, selecting Frame 9 on the Timeline press the F6 key to create a key frame. So, from Frame 1 to Frame 9 is where the eye will be stationed.

On Frame 11 press the F6 key to create another key frame where from Frame 9 to11 we will begin the animation of the eye blink. Select Frame 9 and from the left hand tool bar select the Free Transform tool (or press letter Q key) and from the top mid-point of the selection drag downwards to slightly reduce the height of the eye to begin the blink. Of the selected eye symbol, you can also reposition if necessary by using the arrow keys that would reposition it per pixel. Select Frame 12 and press F6 to create another key frame where we will reduce the height of the eye further but given just in the one frame this will mean a quicker motion. Select Frame 13 to create another key frame and we will delete the eye in this Frame so to draw a line for the closing eye with the Line tool found in the left hand tool bar. Frame 13 becomes the frame where the eye fully closes. Have the eye closed for a short 2 frames and select Frame 15 to create a key frame. Here in Frame 15 and with the Free Transform tool selected, rescale the height to an open eye. Test out the blinking eye animation on the Timeline by pressing the Enter key to play back the animation.

We have now created an animation in the Eye symbol that will become a looped sequence for what will become a part of our walk cycle of this character design.

Stay tuned for my next blog on animating a walk cycle here in Flash CC.

For more information, take a look at our Adobe Illustrator training courses.


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About the Author:

Keith Ching  

At New Horizons Keith delivers Microsoft Office, Sharepoint and Adobe/ Graphic Design training to corporate Australians. Because of his proven ability to build rapport with Clients, Keith has been engaged on training projects that have required expertise outside of the traditional instructing role.Keith also enjoys sharing his knowledge with others, in particular in educating students who contribute to our local ICT industry and economy. In doing so Keith has delivered high quality training to over 4000 students at an average of 92%.In a competitive industry which constantly changes, Keith has a unique skill set which is up-to-date with the latest technology combined with being able to communicate this technical knowledge in a way that students relate to in an engaging, clear and concise manner.His passion in IT and Art and Design has resulted in several recognised qualifications which are a reflection of his creditability by peers and industry.

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