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Recently, I tried animating using symbol based animation, imported to the library from Illustrator, in Flash CS6 and discovered that Flash has a bit of a complicated user interface. I found it difficult to find my assets, first of all. There is no layer tab or any means of organizing the separate symbols and no way of telling if you're actually keying the right symbol.
Another problem I had was figuring out how to make an object snap to another symbol. I also had trouble figuring out how to hide an object at a specific place in the animation. Example: eyelids, when the character opens their eyes. I asked the group because I figured there's bound to be a few or more of you that understand symbol based animation in Flash and I'd like a little guidance from you, if you would. I like hand drawn and am skilled with it, but I really want to start symbol animation in Flash. I really love the capabilities and the bright colors of the look and style and would love to become skilled with it, but I need a few tips and tricks under my belt. Also, How to swap symbols in an animation, without making it look goofy, would be a great tip as well.
I thank all of you that reply to this and if you want to help, either submit a tutorial here, link me to your youtube or simply instruct me, :iconblackn-yellow: via note. Thanks again all of you, you are an awesome group!
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:iconravendark82:
ravendark82 Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
As others have said, you should distribute your symbols to layers. Select everything in the layer and right-click then select "Distribute to layers" and Flash will do it for you and name the layers what you have already named your symbols.

Flash does have built in snapping tools, make sure they are turned on in View>Snapping>Snap to Objects.

For your eyelid issue, you should use nested symbols. For example, make a drawing of your eye, convert it to a graphic symbol. Click inside that symbol and add a new frame, draw the eye half-closed, add a new frame and draw the eye closed. Go back to the main timeline, and click on the symbol. In the properties panel there will be a drop down menu with options: loop, play once, single frame. So you can choose single frame and enter the frame number of your eye closed. If you want the eye to keep blinking you would choose loop, if you wanted it to blink once choose play once. At any time you can add a new key frame and make the eye do something else. Here is a tutorial: [link]

Swapping symbols is easy. Set a keyframe where you want the swap to happen. Then right-click and choose swap symbol, then select the symbol you want. Things to keep in mind: The new symbol's transform point will align with old symbol's transform point. Your new symbol will inherit any scaling or rotation your old symbol had. It is very important that you set up your symbols correctly. Always try to keep the transform points in the same spot, and try to draw them all at the same size, so you won't have to keep going back and fixing things. Here is a tutorial: [link]
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:iconluckyde:
luckyde Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2013  Professional Filmographer
->I found it difficult to find my assets, first of all.
Label them carefully, with the assets they're attached to in the names. e.g. mike_nose_front, mike_nose_side

->There is no layer tab or any means of organizing the separate symbols and no way of telling if you're actually keying the right symbol.
select all, right click, distribute to layers. Then delete off the layers with just shapes, now you'll have layers with the names you gave your symbols so it's easy to organize. There are also layer folders if you've got too many symbols.

->Another problem I had was figuring out how to make an object snap to another symbol.
Make a shortcut, I use CTRL+ SPACE for swapping symbols
->. I also had trouble figuring out how to hide an object at a specific place in the animation.
2 ways. One is to add a layer over top for the few frames with an overlay so you can hide it
Second which i use more is to have multiple positions in a symbol, so the eye symbol can have a fully open, mid way, closed frame in it and you set it as a graphic. Then on the blink frame you set the graphic to single frame, frame 3 which would be your blinking frame. This makes it neater to work with. Look up Keyframe Caddy
->Also, How to swap symbols in an animation, without making it look goofy, would be a great tip as well.
Spend time making your model sheets before hand, test swaping symbols back and forward in the model sheets before doing it in the animation, saves a lot of time in the long run
Hop that helps
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:iconwezenbeesje:
wezenbeesje Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2013  Professional General Artist
I remember Flash itself had tutorials about it.
Flash was my first digital art program. It was very easy to me. Also, the tutorials in Flash itself helped me understand the symbols and groups etc.
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:iconpikapetey:
Pikapetey Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2013
I don't use flash. Line quaility and drawing tools need to be inproved. I use Toonboom to animate in vectors and TVPAINT to animate with pixles. and After Effects to compositie it.


Oh yeah.... and at work I use paper and pencil. TEE HEE!
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:iconthe-intrepidtraveler:
The-IntrepidTraveler Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2013  Hobbyist Filmographer
Okay, I'll touch on this point by point

"imported to the library from Illustrator,"

Why not just draw directly in Flash? Importing Illustrator assets for animation is just going to balloon your file size, slowing things down. Or at the very least, save them with alpha channels as pngs, tiffs, or targas then import them, but you're still going to have a large file size.

"found it difficult to find my assets, first of all. There is no layer tab or any means of organizing the separate symbols"

Make sure you're working with the "essentials" work space, the "animator" work space sucks. The Library tab is right next to the properties; make sure every asset in your library is correctly labeled and organized or you're going die of a brain aneurysm. The best way to organize the symbols is in the timeline. After you have made every symbol a "Graphic" symbol, right click drag over all of them in your work space, then press ctrl+shift+d and all of your symbols will be distributed evenly throughout the timeline.

"Another problem I had was figuring out how to make an object snap to another symbol."

They don't "snap," they all float alongside each other to create the illusion of movement. Make sure you place your pivot points in the correct spot to make it easier (for instance, you'll want a pivot point on the elbow, so the arm will rotate around it.) After you key your animation, you going to get some weirdness going on where the parts break up and reform at the point you wanted them to. You're just going to have to go in there and fix it with multiple keys, but make sure you key every part to keep the timing of the animation uniformed.

"I also had trouble figuring out how to hide an object at a specific place in the animation"

Just remove it from the timeline when necessary. Of course, you could also make a mask, but you might have to ask someone else about that.

"Also, How to swap symbols in an animation, without making it look goofy"

Double click on the symbol and draw other parts in the frames (for instance when lip-synching, you draw multiple mouth pieces in this part.) But in the looping part of the property tab, make sure it's set to single image, otherwise it will play all of you drawings from that layer.

If you're talking entire rigs, that's actually less complicated, just make sure you speed up the arm movement or body movement or whatever you're animating, using the "tweening" option on the property of your tweens and speed up, do the switch, then slowdown on the switched rig. (I don't know what you're trying to do exactly, so that makes it a little hard to help you).

P.S. All of your tweens should have some kind of timing to them, otherwise, it's just going to look floaty, weird. and goofy (remember, even timing = bad timing, most of the time).
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:iconblackn-yellow:
Blackn-Yellow Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2013  Professional Filmographer
Because the pen tool in Flash sucks. lol Seriously, though, It's much easier to illustrate the symbols in Illustrator, plus that's what the instructor taught us to do for the Flash class. Actually, there's a very simple way to fix that and it's the save for web option. Really decreases file size, which isn't exactly important because I have a monster computer that is never slow.

Ouch. Well, that's counter-intuitive of Adobe! They really need a layer tab. :/ Yeah, the instructor told us that, I just lost it among my poor memory. Taking note of it now!

I see. Yeah, I didn't have too much trouble with the pivots, I rounded each edge, so it seems fluid, it was just the flippin eyelids that got wonky on me. Makes sense.

Hmm, I may try the mask.

Aha! Looping! Of course!

I see. Well, I'm looking to copy the body, but swap the head onto the other body, to animate twins. Here's an incredibly choppy sample of exactly what I was working on. [link] I mean, for my first symbol animation, it isn't TOO bad. It just needs work, obviously. I can probably easily fix the issues, though.

Thanks so much for the help! I really appreciate it!

Oh, I know about timing. I'm quite skilled with hand drawn animation, I'm just not entirely familiar with the Flash interface. I know more about Illustrator than Flash.
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:icongrievousfan:
grievousfan Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2013  Student General Artist
I'm no expert at Flash, but I do use it quite a bit for my art. The Layers panel is contained within the animation Timeline and should be right there on the lower left, when you first open Flash. Your Assets panel is the Library (the second toolbar of the three toolbars on the right side of the screen), and to get your assets into the program you need to go to File > Import > Import to Library. (I'm looking at the default layout of Flash)

As for symbol animation, there's a tool you can use called the Bone tool that creates a "skeleton" for your figure, then you can pose it for animation. The way my teacher taught it to us, we had to lay out our figures, then separate them, lay down the skeleton, then drag the pieces back together, but there was an issue with the other pieces drifting apart whenever you moved one piece. I've only used this tool once for school and almost punched in the computer screen, so I just animate the symbols individually :XD:
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:iconblackn-yellow:
Blackn-Yellow Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2013  Professional Filmographer
Yeah, our instructor advised strongly against using the bone tool. It's not hard to move the symbols, it's finding where things are at. Once I get a feel for it, I'll probably make something more fluid. Thanks!
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:icongrievousfan:
grievousfan Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2013  Student General Artist
What do you mean by "finding where things are at"? :XD:
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:iconblackn-yellow:
Blackn-Yellow Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2013  Professional Filmographer
As in, where each part of the broken up rig is in the timeline. There are no layers for that.
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:icongrievousfan:
grievousfan Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2013  Student General Artist
You could put each symbol on its own layer? :V By default you should have one empty frame per layer to start with; when you put a symbol on the empty layer it goes onto the first frame, so unless you've made more frames then all your symbols should be on the first frame.

[link] That's an interface for one of my symbol animations. If there wasn't animation on it, all the symbols would be on their own layer line, and each layer line would have only one frame with one symbol in it.

Hope this is easy to understand :XD:
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:iconblackn-yellow:
Blackn-Yellow Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2013  Professional Filmographer
Hmm, that could work. Someone also said Command+Shift+D breaks them up within a layer.

I see. Thanks!
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:icongrievousfan:
grievousfan Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2013  Student General Artist
*separate the pieces
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