Creating Animations Using Flash Motion Tweens

Flash 8 | Beginner | Blue_Chi

One of the very basics of Flash animations is motion tweening, it is a method by which you can easily create animations without the need to draw each and every frame in an animated sequence as required by traditional animation tools. This tutorial will show you how to create motion tween animations on the Flash timeline. This is a beginner tutorial that will require you only to have the very basics of what the various tools in Flash do.

What is Motion Tweening?

Traditionally, making an animation required the creation of a series of frames showing the gradual movement or change in the scene and then moving through these frames quickly to create the illusion of movement. In Flash, it is possible to use motion tweening to mimic movement by only creating the first and last frames of a given animation and letting Flash generate all the frames between automatically. We call this tweening, it makes animating the sliding movement of objects a breeze, read on to learn how to use it.

Creating The Object to be Animated

Create a new empty Flash movie, use the Oval Tool to draw a circle on the stage. Select the circle using the Selection Tool (double click to select the circle and its outline) and press F8 to convert the circle shape to a symbol. To be able to motion tween objects in Flash, an object has to be converted to a symbol. For regular motion tweens we can convert our object into a Movie Clip symbol or a Graphic symbol. Select Movie Clip for this tutorial as it provides the option to use the Flash filters introduced in Flash 8. The Name that you give to your symbol does not really matter here, you can call this circle.

Convert your shape to a symbol

Animating the Object Using the Timeline

We will use our timeline to create the motion tween animation now. For motion tween animations we have to create the first and the final stages of the animation and Flash will create all the frames in between. The first part of our animation will be 20 frames long, right-click frame 20 on the only layer we have on the timeline and select Insert Frame to expand the number of frames in this layer to 20.

Insert 20 frames in this layer

We will now create a motion tween by right-clicking this set of frames and selecting Create Motion Tween. The color of the frames shall change into blue and a dotted line shall appear through it.

Create a motion tween

The first keyframe on our layer contains our initial animation position. We now have to create a keyframe to contain our end-stage animation position, right-click frame 20 and select Insert Keyframe. A small black dot shall appear in frame 20 and an arrow should connect it to the black dot in frame 1.

Insert Keyframe

Our timeline is now ready, all we have to do is position our circle to its final destination, change its size if we want, change the color and we're done. Use the Free Transform Tool to move the circle to the other side of the stage and to enlarge its size. Once you're done, you can press Enter on your keyboard to see the objects move and change in size!

Move the circle to the other side

Animating Colors

We are going to animate the change of color now, make sure that the timeline pointer is at frame 20, select the circle on the stage and then access the Properties Inspector (found by default at the bottom of the screen) to alter the color using one of the various options. I used the Tint option to change the color. You can pick whatever color you desire. Again you can test the movie now by pressing Enter on your keyboard.

Change color - Tint

Animating Filters

You can also animate your objects using Flash filters by going through the Filters tab and selecting one of the available ones. Filters will only work if you have used the Movie Clip symbol type to animate your object, which we have done in this tutorial. Select any filter you wish to use and test the movie once again.

Apply Flash filters using the Filter tab

Adding Further Steps to the Animation

You should now be able to apply various transformations to your animated object. You can add further steps to your animation by creating more keyframes further on the timeline. For example, right-click frame 40 and select Insert Keyframe. You should now be able to move the object at this frame on the stage to a different position, change its color and apply another filter using the method we mentioned in the earlier steps. You can simply add additional keyframes to add more stages to your animation.

Insert a keyframe at frame 40

Animating Multiple Objects

Each layer can only have a single animation at one time. To animate another object you will have to add another layer to your timeline. You can do this by clicking on the Insert Layer button at the lower part of the timeline panel.

Add another layer

Once you have your new layer, you can draw the object you want to animate, convert it to a symbol, add some frames, convert the frame set to a motion tween, add some keyframes afterwards and start animating, the same way we did for the first layer.

Animating a second layer

This way you can add more objects to your movie while adding more keyframes to further the animation. You can finally test your movie by pressing Ctrl+Enter to create a sample SWF file. Here is my animated movie:

This concludes our tutorial, you will have to explore the various transformation that you could apply to your animated objects in Flash to discover the full potential of this simple animation method. You can learn more about animation in Flash by viewing our Motion Guide tutorial and our Morphing Animation (Shape Tweening) in Flash tutorial as well.

- End of Tutorial