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Monday, April 11, 2011

Inking In Adobe Flash

1. Setting Up the Sketch

First, create a new document in Flash. The size and other settings aren’t that important.

Next, choose ‘insert’ and select ‘new symbol’

When the new symbol dialogue pops up, create a symbol called ’sketch’ with behaviour set to ‘movie clip’

Now I’m going to get the sketch I saved in Photoshop. If you’re sketching in Flash you can skip this step.
Choose ‘Import’, then ‘Import to Library’, and select the sketch file. That image will appear in the Flash Library (hit CTRL-L to view the library).

There should be two items in the Library now- a movie clip called ’sketch’ and the drawing you’ve imported from Photoshop. In the Library window, double-click on ’sketch’ to open up the movie object. Then, drag your drawing (in my case jerbilay.png) into the main work space. You can use Flash’s transform tools to rotate or scale the sketch, if needed.

In the top left, above the timeline, click ‘Scene 1′ to return to the main screen.
Now, drag the ’sketch’ object from the library into the workspace. You’ll see that since it’s a movie object, it has some different options from the drawing ‘bitmap’ object type. You can adjust those options using the Properties menu (CTRL-F3 or Window > Properties)
Click on the ’sketch’ object in the main workspace to select it.
Then in the Properties menu, set the mode in the ‘Color’ dropdown menu to ‘Alpha’. Adjust the alpha until the sketch appears light gray- mine is set to 34%. Lightening the sketch makes it much easier to ink over later. If your sketch is light already, you can skip this step.

My sketch is pretty big, there’s not quite enough room in the main work space. So, I’ll convert this to another movie object. Click your ’sketch’ object to select it, and choose ‘Workspace’ > Convert to Symbol. I’ll call my new symbol ‘inks’, and make it a movie object.
Double-click ‘inks’ in the Library window, and it should open.

Check out the timeline at the top left. There’s one layer already, which has my ’sketch’ object inside it- I called that layer ’sketch’ too.
Click the ‘new layer’ button, and create another layer on top named ‘inks’. This is where the magic’s gonna happen!

2. Inking Tools and Tricks

Locking a layer prevents any inadvertent editing. Click the dot underneath the lock icon to lock your sketch layer.
Zoom in at the level you want for inking- I usually choose 200%.
Now, set up the brush tool- I select the smallest brush size, and activate the ‘use pressure’ option, which is the button that looks like a swoosh.
Make sure your ‘inks’ layer is selected, and ink away!
    A few tips to keep in mind:
  • Using multiple layers for inking makes it easier to manage some complex illustrations with overlapping shapes, BUT remember that the Flash eraser tool works on all visible layers. Make sure you Lock layers you don’t want to erase!
  • Changing the color of the ink is easy- click the ‘inks’ layer, and change the color using the fill bucket tool.
  • You can use the Selection tool to pick areas you want to ‘Smooth’ or ‘Straighten’. It’s pretty handy sometimes.
  • The brush size scales according to the image zoom, so if you need to zoom in or out to work some details, you might need to adjust your brush.
  • Undo is your friend! If you want a particularly smooth curve, just sketch it a couple times, and press ‘CTRL-Z’ to undo the weaker lines. It may take a couple tries for the best result. Sketch, undo, sketch, undo, sketch until it looks just right.
  • Add friction. If your strokes are too quick, and are getting overly smoothed by Flash, put a piece of paper on top of your drawing tablet. The extra friction on the surface with slow your strokes and give you greater control over their appearance.

When you’re finished inking, you can delete the ’sketch’ layer, leaving just the inks.
Then you can finish coloring your work in Flash, ‘Export’ the image as a PNG and color it in Photoshop or another digital program, or even print it out and color with traditional media.

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