Monday, March 09, 2009

FlashTips: Questions Anyone?

It's been a couple months since my first tutorial on inking in Flash, which I followed by one on coloring. So I thought it would be a good time to ask everyone how you're doing and if you have any questions or suggestions for future tutorials. I've thought about doing a short demo on approaches to lipsyncing, but that gets more into animation (less drawing). Is anyone stuck on a certain aspect of drawing or coloring that I can answer? Are people interested in Flash as an animation tool as well? Do you want to know more about the guts of the program? The floor is open, just leave your questions or ideas as a comment. Let's just stay away from topics directly related to CS4 (where a lot of new features have been added). I'm still getting up to speed, myself.

I also wanted to mention you can now follow me on Twitter @bobjinx.

FlashTip #1: Drawing with a Brush
FlashTip #2: Approaches to Coloring


Christina said...

Hi! Louise directed me over here- While I don't have a question at the moment, I just wanted to thank you for posting these tutorials on Flash- I really had no idea you could use Flash for drawing as well as animating. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Bob! Let me first say that I love your style and I'm enjoying this blog immensely. I adore Flash so your topics are of great interest to me. Here's my question...what do you do to import your paper drawings into Flash? I take it that I require a vector conversion software of some sort? Perhaps you could discuss this process for those of us that would like to use our scanned artwork in Flash. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Bob, your line work is just beautiful! I love the range of thicknesses in your line, really brings the characters to life. I'm having a hard time getting such a range in a single line even using the pressure sensitive option. Are you just a master of using that option, or do you go over your line more than once to create such a great effect?

Anonymous said...

Oh, and yes, I would love to hear about animating in Flash. For me personally, I would be very interested in reading about the basics, which might be a good place for you to start, and you could expand from there.

Honolulu Dogfight said...

I've got a question for the general audience! Who thinks that little flash icon Bob drew should be the official flash logo?
Also, for Jason, I used to use an old copy of Adobe streamline, but if you're inking in flash you can ink right over a jpeg, on another layer, and if you're coloring an inked analog drawing, try saving as a .png

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the suggestions Honolulu, I really appreciate it. I don't want to get off-topic and waste space here in the comment section, especially since my problem could probably be solved by a drunk monkey. My goal is to colour my analog drawings in Flash, so I just scanned a drawing and saved it as a .PNG in Photoshop. I imported it into Flash and tried to add colour with the brush...but I can't seem to figure out how to get the paint behind the inked drawing, rather than having the brush stroke cover over the analog drawing. Am I making sense here? My apologies to Bob for hijacking this conversation.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to add....Bob's Flash logo is da bomb!

Bob Flynn said...

Hey gang! Thanks again for all the kinds words. Glad you like my little Flash dude.

Jason Curtis: Unless I'm mistaken, what you're describing is coloring a scanned pixel art drawing in Flash. While you can certainly color over your drawing, you certainly won't be able to color inside the "pixel lines." You'd be better off working in a raster native program like Photoshop. Paint over it on another layer with either the color or line layer set to the Multiply setting, for instance.

When I talk about coloring in Flash, I definitely mean drawing in the program in vector, and then coloring it in vector.

In newer versions of Flash, however, you could convert your imported PNG into a Movieclip, select it on the stage, go to your Properties palette and changes the blend mode to Multiply (basically making it transparent, similar to Photoshop). And then paint underneath. Your linework would be pixel, your coloring would be vector.

Chris Sabatino: Good to see you around here! In terms of my line quality, you bring your habits to the program. Once you get the hang of the brush tool, your style should automatically translate. I like that cartoony line, so I've studied the masters. I usually hit the line I want with one stroke.


Okay folks, keep'em coming! I'm getting a sense that people want to know more about how to control your line-weight better.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much Bob. Now I understand.

Anonymous said...

How about a topic such as "How not to suck when drawing with a Wacom tablet!" I'm sure it's simply a matter of practice, practice, practice but I'm finding that my stroke loses it's "life" when I'm using my Wacom (compared to a good 'ol pen and paper).

Are you using an Intuos or a Cintiq series tablet? Maybe you could touch on your technique, or simply suggest tips on how to become more adept at drawing digitally.

Bob Flynn said...

Sounds like a great idea, Jason!

I will say that it took me a good year to be completely confident drawing in Flash. Plugging away, getting used to the disconnect that happens when you draw with a tablet. I am still on an Intuos...would love to try a Cintiq (haven't even been in the same room as one yet).

You need to make your strokes with the same confidence as you would on paper...and keep it loose.

I'll start thinking of how to explain my process a bit. But practice is a huge component of it.

Anonymous said...

I guess it's just common sense that I need to dedicate more time to become comfortable drawing with a tablet. I suppose I'm too impatient at times.

I'm using an Intuos as well because I can't justify the purchase of a Cintiq. I operate my own photography business and having a Cintiq to draw on is definitely a "want" more than a "need".

Thanks for your comments Bob.

Nico said...

Hey! First of all thanks for your previous posts about colouring and drawing in flash: i found them very usefull. So my vote goes for the animation tips and other drawing process. Thanks!

Sherm said...

Love your "little Flash dude" !!! I'm a sucker for cute cartoon mascots, and you just created a major winner!

Honolulu Dogfight said...

Wow, I hadn't checked back here in awhile. I didn't know about the movie clip suggestion Bob, when importing a png. The quick solution I use for the png trick is while still in photoshop, make sure your background is transparent. Then,you can color on a layer beneath the line work in flash. Might have to try your way pretty soon.

Rodrigo Eller said...

hey you!
Can I use movie clips in animations that will not be in swf formats?
How can I export a good video file in Flash?
Tks a lot

(sorry about the bad English)

Bob Flynn said...

Thanks for all the responses, folks. I probably won't be able to get to another tutorial for a month or so, but keep leaving your questions.

Rodrigo: If you're not exporting your animation as a .swf (say you want to export as Quicktime), whatever you see when you playback on root timeline is what Flash will export. Meaning, anything embedded inside of a "movieclip" will not export. So, you should contain your animations inside of "graphic" symbols instead—which you can set to loop, play once, or sit on a single frame. It's counter intuitive, I know...but it's the way the program is built. Though, I believe they may have fixed this to a degree in CS3 and CS4.

A trick: You can always change a movieclip into a graphic in the properties menu, on the stage. So you might have to go through your file until what you scrub through the root timeline is what you want.

A note on exporting to Quicktime: Both CS3 and CS4 have an extremely buggy export engine which often mucks up your file with dropped frames and other oddities. I get great results with Flash 8 and earlier (but obviously, you'd need those versions of the app to export). We've been experimenting with exporting as a PNG Image Sequence. Which you can then load into a program like After Effects or Quicktime Pro to string them all into a movie file.

All for now, hope that helps!

Kathy said...

No questions yet but thank you, thank you, thank you for your posts on drawing in Flash. And an extra thank you for the tip about saving as EPS as well (instead of as an AI file). EPS saves the colors as well, just like you said.


Bob Flynn said...

Hi Kathy! Glad you've found the tips and tutorials useful, and thanks for spreading the word. I'm late in getting the next round going, but keep looking for them everyone. Hopefully in the next month or so.

One thing I will say about saving out as EPS. It is also a good way around a known bug in Flash that limits how large you can export a raster image (as a PNG or jpeg, for example). The colors turn yellow or start banding on the edges—really bizarre—if you try to save out a really large image (like 4000 pixels wide). In this case, save out as EPS (vector) and then let Photoshop convert it to pixel for you. I just had to do this on an illustration job where I had an image that was 16 inches wide at 300 dpi.

A bit of BAD NEWS on the EPS front. For some inane reason, they got rid of this save option in Flash CS4. Which is just one a huge list of problems I have with the program. They still haven't bothered to fix the save as to AI file, either—the colors still don't match up. So if do you upgrade (though I can't say I advise it—not a fan of CS4 so far), keep a version of CS3 or earlier around so you can still save as EPS.

George Fearns said...

Hi Bob. If you could do a quick tut on exporting animation from flash. I always seem to have problems with resolution and other glitches. Thanks for the great tips.