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Adobe Flash – animating with onion skin

Posted on Posted in Tutorials

Now let’s get to the guts of animating :). To make the tutorial more clear we are going to be animating something simple. Let’s animate a simple hand punching. Click on the button below to see the example.

We start with a clinched fist and a bent elbow.

Idle view

The next step is a hand swinging back. So we draw the extreme of the swing.

The windup

When that is done, insert a frame between these two and draw the position in between these two actions. This is called inbetweening because you draw frames between the extreme positions.

To make the process easier turn on the onion-skin function. This will show you the content of the frame before and the frame after the one you are currently editing (you can change the number of frames it shows). This way you don’t have to jump back and forth between frames and estimate the position of your drawing. You just simply see where to put things.

3 frames aren’t enough though. So we need another frame between the 1st and 2nd frame and one more between the 2nd and 3rd (at least I’d advise even more).

The next extreme is the punch. So you draw that in a new frame.

Extended arm for punch

Now draw inbetween frames to animate the swing.

The animation:

I’ll admit this is a crude example of how to animate but if you start simple you’ll soon understand how to animate more complex and larger things.

Animating a punch this way doesn’t make it believable though because there is no force in the punch. How can we achieve that? We can do that with image stretching.

That means that we make just one frame between the wind up and the punch but make it stretched out so it looks like faster movement.

Download example file

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