This tutorial will walk you through the steps of creating a simple animation using the bone tool in Adobe Flash. In this tutorial, I am using Adobe Flash CS 5.5, but this will work with Adobe Flash CS 4 as well.
The bone tool is a finicky tool. When you use it, you will see that sometimes it behaves in odd ways. Movements can look stiff if you’re not careful. The tool can sometimes change the colors of areas without warning, forcing you to redraw the area. Most of the time the bone tool will work without a hitch, but you need to be aware of the potential problems that may arise when you use it.
Okay, let’s get started. For this tutorial, we’ll animate a monster that is dancing. You can repeat these steps to add more monsters and create a monster party if you like.
Step 1- Open up a new Flash file with Action Script 3.0 selected.
Step 2 – You will want to separate all of the moving parts on the monster. So, you’ll need to create a new layer for each monster body part. We’ll begin by drawing the body. Name layer 1 “body” and use the brush tool to draw a body for your monster.
Step 3 – Now that you’ve drawn a body, you’re ready to draw one of the arms. Create a new layer and name that layer “right arm”. Then, using the brush tool, draw a right arm. You will be bending the arm using the bone tool, so don’t draw the arm in its starting position, instead think of the arm in terms of a puppet. You will bend the arm by using the bone tool, so it should be pretty straight in your drawing.
Step 4 – Now you will draw a left arm for your monster. You’ll want to be sure to repeat the steps that used for the right arm. Create a new layer and name it “left arm”. The draw the left arm pretty straight, overlapping the body layer.
Step 5 – Now we’ll need to add some legs. We’ll start with the right leg. Create a new layer and name it “right leg”. Again, draw the right leg overlapping the body layer with the brush tool. Be sure to keep the leg of the monster pretty straight.
Step 6 – You guessed it. We need to create the left leg now. Create a new layer and draw a new leg, or you can just copy the right leg and paste it on a new layer. You may want to transform it and “flip it vertically”. Go ahead and create a new layer after you’ve made the leg and draw a head too. I named that layer “head”.
Step 7 – Now we’ve got our monster drawn. Next we’ll animate the parts using the bone tool. We’ll start with the right arm. Lock all of the layers except the “right arm” layer by clicking on the small lock under each dot in the layer menu. Now select the “right arm” layer. The drawing of the arm should become selected. Now grab the bone tool from the tool bar. Left click from shoulder down to the elbow. Then left click again and go from the elbow to the wrist. Then lastly, pull from the wrist to the end of the hand. Now, you’ve created the bone structure for the right arm.
Step 8 – Notice that now you have two layers for the right arm. One layer is a regular layer with a blank key frame. A new layer now exists above it. This new layer is named “armature”. The layer is green and has a small figure out beside it. We will be working with the “armature” layer. Go out to frame number 24 and right click. Select “insert pose”. When you do this, the armature layer will extent out to frame 24.
Step 9 – Next, you will scrub your playhead to a point between frame number 1 and frame number 24. Grab the black arrow selection tool and select a portion of the armature. Now move the arm to a new position. Notice that the arm moves like it has real joints and bones inside of it. Move the arm where want it to be. Now scrub to another location and use the arrow again to place the bones. You can test what you did by scrubbing back and forth with the playhead.
Step 10 – Now we’ll need to animate each of the other body parts of our monster. Do this the same way that you animated the right arm. Lock all of the other layers for each body part and click on the layer that you want to work on. Then grab the bone tool and create the armature. Right click in frame 24 and select “insert pose” . Then use the black arrow selection tool to move the body part at different locations along the timeline. Repeat this for every body part except for the head and the body. We’ll take care of animating them next.
Step 11 – We almost having a dancing monster. Next we need to animate the head and the body. Let’s start with the body. Lock all of the other layers except for the “body” layer. We will animate the body by using a simple classic tween. On the “body” layer, right click on frame 24 and select “insert keyframe”. Then go back to frame 12 or so and right click again to “insert keyframe”. Use the black arrow selection tool to move the body into a new position. Then right click in between the three keyframes and select “insert classic tween”.
Step 12 – Now, we’ll do a similar thing with the head. Since we’ll be adding a classic tween, we’ll need to add keyframes. So on the “head” layer, go out to a cell and right click to add a keyframe. Then move the head to a sightly different position. Do this a couple more times until you reach frame number 24. Then go back in between each keyframe and right click to insert a classic tween. Now you can quick export your movie (crtl+enter, or command+return)
Now you should have a result like this…