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Thread: Cartooning in Flash -- Brush or Line Tool?

  1. #1
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    Cartooning in Flash -- Brush or Line Tool?

    What is the preferred tool when cartooning in Flash? I realize that every artist has their own style, but when it comes to making animated cartoons, what is the better method?

    I have a Wacom Intuos2 6x8 tablet and I love to use the brush tool because of the pressure sensitivity that a graphics tablet allows, but should I be using the line tool instead to get a cleaner, more shape-friendly cartoon to turn into symbols that I will animate?

    I go in and do the "Optimize" which seems to give it a polished effect, but sometimes it takes out a bit too much line that I have to go back in and "repaint" before I convert to a symbol.

    Just wondering if others do their drawing with the line tool or if they use the brush tool. Take for example, the Strongbad emails on Homestarrunner.com -- do you think they're mostly using the brush tool or line tool when craeting their animations?

    Should I be drawing with the brush (since I'm more comfortable with it) and then doing "clean up" with the line tool before I convert them to symbols?

    Thanks in advance, still learning what it takes to get animating, but I'm enjoying myself along the way, amidst the frustration

    *EDITED* .... I read a few posts and notice that most of you seem to prefer frame by frame animation rather than converting to symbols... which is the faster way to go and which looks better in your opinion? Perhaps I'm going about this the wrong way and should be doing it with the line tool and going frame by frame.... <ponder/>
    Last edited by tekchic; 12-17-2003 at 01:49 AM.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member ceglia's Avatar
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    not sure about the line tool.... i only use it for drawing straight lines or geometric shapes. perhaps you mean the pen tool?

    i tend to use the brush tool above all else, for precisely the reason you mentioned.... i have a wacom tablet and i like the pressure sensitivity feature.

    having said that, you do have more control over the number of curves and vertices that are created if you use the pen tool.

    as far as animation goes, frame by frame will generally look best, unless you're going for some basic squash and stretch stuff, in which case you could create your object, say a rubber ball, convert it into a symbol, and use the scale tool to create the squash and stretch effects.

    timewise, converting objects to symbols and then manipulating the symbols is faster than redrawing each frame.

  3. #3
    no noise means no bees xup878's Avatar
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    i always use the brush tool to draw anything that needs to look good over file size... nothing like variable strokes
    if you really need to save space then the pen tool is worthwile...

    i generally use a mix of symbols and frame by frame in my animations, generally thats what most people do... but i do like to encourage the use of less symbols and more frame by frame.... a person should never be made up of more than two symbols, just a head and a body...

  4. #4
    Moderator CNO's Avatar
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    Think of it this way - a line is a single collection of points, whereas a brush stroke needs twice as many points (to surround an area of color).

    Simply put, this means that your file size will be twice as large and your movie can potentially run slower with more information to process each frame, but you have twice as much detail and information to manipulate.

    Just to complicate matters, reusing symbols will reduce the overall file size no matter which method you use.

    So really, it depends on the look you are trying to achieve - stylized cartoons will benefit more from using thick solid outlines (a la PowerPuff Girls, Samurai Jack), and they will translate better to mediums like television. Animations that need lots of detail or a distinctly hand-drawn look benefit from the brush tool, as long as you don't over-optimize.

    But the key, really, is to turn as many elements as you can into symbols. This doesn't mean that you have to turn your character into a marionette, but certain smaller elements can be turned into symbols throughout the animation (check out some tutorials on television animation and reuse of cells) without looking fake or jerky.

    I believe the HR guys mostly use the pen/pencil tool, but that befits their character styles.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the insight. By "line tool" I mean both the normal line tool (say I was drawing a table, or a kitchen cabinet) or the pencil tool.

    I'm so hopelessly inept with the actual "pen" tool that does the Bezier curves... no matter how many times I've had it explained to me I have no idea how anyone can draw with one
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  6. #6
    Always Twirling Toward Freedom pooon's Avatar
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    It all depends on the cartoon you are making. Frame by frame generally is more pleasing because it takes a lot of work and people notice that. I like the brush tool myself, but it all depends on what you want your style to look like. Of course frame by frame and symbols can work great together through movie clips so you can get the frame by frame feel but save yourself a lot of work. For an example see my flat world promo. Also, if you're new to animation, read my tips on making a better cartoon
    Last edited by pooon; 12-18-2003 at 08:20 PM.

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