Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Back in a Flash

Last year it crossed my mind that I should learn how to do a bit of animation. The idea of making my creatures & letters move was tantalizing. The software & class costs were a bit daunting, though, so I applied for a United Arts Artist Project grant to help out. I honestly didn't think I had much of a chance of receiving it, but surprise! It came through!

The grant covered most of the costs & gave me the much-needed impetus to make the leap into learning Flash. What it didn't cover was the time it would take to get the hang of the program (which I found far more daunting than Photoshop or Illustrator)-- not to mention the many, many hours I'd need to invest to create actual animations! Nor did I quite realize the toll it would take on my computer... especially when I was trying to run Flash, PS & AI all at the same time. I think they might have named it Flash to rhyme with crash. ;-)

In other words, the process has been something of a struggle for me and my computer. But last night there was a reception for the United Arts Project Grant winners, & I was determined to bring a sampler piece to the event to show that their generosity was not entirely wasted! The above piece uses nearly every technique I learned in Flash 1.*

One of the hardest things about Flash for me is finding the balance between finesse & practicality. In my paintings & calligraphy, I'm all about details & subtleties. When I work in Photoshop, my files end up being immense, with many layers & high resolution. But part of the deal with Flash is making the files small enough to run efficiently, & letting the "tweens" do as much of the work as possible. Which means relinquishing a lot more control than I'd like. Looking at this piece quite honestly makes me cringe for any number of reasons. I could easily spend another two weeks refining it, except that I don't have two more weeks to spend! But I'm hoping that with more experience I'll learn where I can cut corners & let Flash do its stuff, & where I should invest the time & file-size to tweak frame by frame. I certainly hope my skills improve, but at least this is a start!

*About a week ago, I got a call from the school where I'd taken my class. Apparently they had had many complaints about the teacher, & were offering the next session of Flash 1, with a different instructor, free to those who had taken the first session. Hmmm. Now I feel a little better about my slow & steep learning curve-- maybe it wasn't just my inadequate brain! The new class begins this Friday, so we'll see if it helps... stay tuned.


  1. I think it's cool! I'm VERY impressed.

    If I had one suggestion it might be with the animation of the creature. Since its "leaf'-hopping, flying and landing are insect-like, I feel the need to see its movements resembling a familiar insect, like a dragonfly, rather than an unworldly creature. The beginning is so beautiful, mimicking earth's nature, that the creature's movements don't seem to belong in that world.

    My dumb opinion.

  2. Thanks for your help, Ted! I completely agree that the critter's movements don't work well-- for a lot of reasons-- but it hadn't quite struck me that it was inconsistent with its insect characteristics. That really helps! I hope I can refine it during my class do-over-- if I do, I'll post the remake. :-)