In last month’s issue, Paul Shih guided you through the process of designing two characters in Flash, based on his Hollow Threat series of rock-loving rabbits. Here he prepares these characters, organises and assembles their structures, and animates them. 

We’ll also look at some of Flash CS4’s tools: the Bone tool enables you to link symbols together, which is great for animating arms and legs. 

It behaves like an IK (inverse kinematics) system, and is a boon to character animators. The 3D Rotation tool allows you to create 3D effects with 2D objects – we’ll be using this to create an illusion of a head-banging motion. You’ll also learn some basic animating with motion tweens.

Step 1 First, we need to prepare the artwork for animation, so open your character design document. If you didn’t follow the tutorial last month, open hbjb_animation1.flv from the Download Zone. Delete the ‘outline’ layer, and unlock all layers whose name starts with ‘hb’ – this is the boy character. 

Select all (Cmd/Ctrl + A) and right-click on the frame, select Cut Frames, and make it into a symbol (F8). Next, hit Insert > New Symbol, name it ‘HB’ and select Movie Clip as the symbol type. Right-click on the blank frame and select Paste Frames.