From Layers to Life: Creating Animated Characters in Adobe Flash | Katie Henderson | Skillshare

From Layers to Life: Creating Animated Characters in Adobe Flash

Katie Henderson, Character animator on the loose!

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10 Lessons (26m)
    • 1. Trailer

    • 2. Intro and Class Materials

    • 3. A brief look at the Flash interface

    • 4. Helpful hints for drawing

    • 5. Drawing in Flash

    • 6. Creating assets

    • 7. Make your character turn

    • 8. All the little steps to animating

    • 9. My complete class demo

    • 10. Alternative animation tricks


About This Class

Flash is one of two industry standard programs (The other being Toon Boom) for creating cartoons online and on television. You will already be familiar with several of these cartoons: Axe Cop, Archer, China, IL, Happy Tree Friends, and many MANY more.

This class is for anyone who has an idea for a web series, or wants to expand their Flash and animation knowledge. A certain level of meticulousness and patience is required, as building a character is the most time consuming part to animating. Some familiarity with the program such as the use of layers, keyframes, and most importantly, symbols is a plus, though each will be quickly explained at the start of class. Due to intensive information, this class may be better suited to students who have some familiarity with Flash.

In this class, students will learn how to design a character, build and move its various assets in Flash, and use it to produce a very short demo. Students in the class will need to have access to Flash CS4 or higher. 

The lesson will discuss what goes into creating a character for Flash animation and provide some tips for handling certain design issues before the set-up stage. At this point the student is encouraged to design and share a 3-point turn-around (front, 3/4, and side view) for a character of their own creation.


The next, and by far, most intensive step is to build the character from the bottom up in Flash. Techniques for naming and organizing parts of the character and building poses for things like hands and mouths will be discussed. At this stage we will also be animating the 3 point turns created in the previous lesson, to give them a smooth, '2.5D' appearance when in motion. Tweens (as in inbetweens, not adolescents) are crucial to this step and students will get a crash-course on using Flash's built-in tweening abilities, and tweening by hand.

Last but not least, it's time for a little fun. Students will be asked to complete a few seconds of animation to show now that the character has been created, they also understand how to use and move it. The animation should demonstrate movement from one view to another, examples of different gestures/poses for things like eyes, hands, and lip sync.