2D Animation Terms – Adobe Flash, ToonBoom Studio/Harmony
This is the second post in a five part series of animation terms. Here you’ll find terms associated with digital 2D animation and the most widely used digital 2D animation software – Adobe Flash.
Design Breaking – The stage in Flash production right after the original designs are approved by the Director. Final character designs (and props if needed) are cleaned up in Flash, colored, and broken apart in pieces that the animator will use when animating a scene.
Clean-up – The stage in which drawings are traced back in order to enhance the quality of the line work. The Flash line tool is often used to clean up scanned drawings before the character is set up or rigged for animation.
Shot Comp – Short for Composite Drawing. The Comp is a symbol that has many subsequent symbols/artwork inside of it. For example, the head comp of a character is a symbol but has additional symbols inside it – one for each eye and one for the mouth. The Shot Comp encompass all the assets of a scene – characters, props, background…
Ease – There is a function in Flash called ease located in the properties panel. It’s used for slow-in’s and slow-out’s. To see it you need to have the area between two keys selected on the timeline, and “Tweening” has to be on.
Guide Layers – You can set any layer to “Guide” and that layer will not be rendered in the final Flash movie.
Masks – Masks are basically mattes. They create a hole through which Animation can be viewed. In Animation they can be used to create match-lines to place a character behind a BG element like a table or door frame, or to create a reflection of a character in a mirror or puddle.
Onion Skinning – A function in Flash that allows the user to see a desired number of frames at once. Used to check the spacing and arcs of your poses.
Properties Panel – Part of the Flash interface. The properties panel is located at the bottom of the screen. When an element is selected, a variety of properties will be displayed in this panel and can be adjusted as desired.
Scene Library – Each scene has a library window that holds the graphic elements (symbols) created for the animation of the scene.
Scene Set-up – Sometimes known as Scene Assembly. This is a stage in Flash production where all the elements of the scene, ie-characters, props, effects, BG, and any pre-animated cycles are all imported into the library and set up for animation.
Skewing – Part of the transformation tools in Flash. Skewing artwork in Flash is commonly used in place of an inbetween or to get a character (or part of a character) from one position to another. Animators are advised never to leave any parts of the character skewed. It should only be used as a transitional effect to get from point A to point B.
Stage – Part of the Flash interface. The stage is located at the center of the screen, it’s the main workspace. This is where all elements are placed and animated.
Swapping – The switching of a symbol (body part) in mid-motion. Most often used for switching out hands but is used for just about every body part. This is done in the properties panel.
Symbols – Vector art created in Flash is placed inside a symbol before being animated. Symbols provide various functionality helpful for character animation such as looping, playing once, show single frame etc… (eg. allows eye and mouth symbols to be animated inside a head symbol).
Timeline – Flashes timeline is usually located at the top of the interface. This timeline is comprised of layers that stack the artwork contained in it’s frames one on top of each other. All elements in a scene can be keyed and animated in the timeline.
Tools Panel – Part of the Flash interface, usually located on the left side of the screen. Contains the main drawing functions available for drawing, painting and animation.
Tweening – Flash has two ways of tweening: Motion Tweening and Shape Tweening. Usually when animating characters we are using Motion Tweening. This function will automatically add inbetweens between your key poses, but only in a linear fashion (point A to point B), so breakdown drawings are sometimes needed to define any arching motion.
Vector graphics – Flash uses Vector graphics as opposed to bitmap graphics. bitmap graphics save images as colored dots but vector graphics save images as curved lines and fills. The advantage to vector graphics is that it eliminates pixilated look.