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The Art of Flash Animation: Creative Cartooning

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There are a number of manuals available on Flash, but too many of them get bogged down in details about ActionScript or interactivity. Frustrated with wading through such information in other Flash manuals, author/illustrator Mark Stephen Smith set out to make the book he wished he had when he started learning Flash. This book is both a practical primer in the fundamentals of classical, hand-drawn 2D screen animation and a basic introduction to Flash's expert handling of recyclable symbols that make independent, web, and television animation both more affordable and more efficient. It is conveniently divided into two parts. Part I is for those who are new to the terms and techniques of hand-drawn animation, character design, and storyboards. Part II covers scanning and digitizing artwork into Flash, as well as setting up scenes and symbols.

It’s funny how things work out.

I never really started out wanting to be an animator, other than having a lifelong love for drawing, and now I find myself writing a “how to” book on drawing animation for Macromedia’s Flash. As far as animation, I’ve made no secret to my students or readers of my website (www.marktoonery.com) of how I got interested in animation.

It started out, I guess, when I was a teenager. I had written a number of short stories in the Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents vein, and a couple of fantasy novels that explored the premise of modernized “ringwraiths” invading a 1986 Alabama high school. Hey, I was a student in a 1986 Alabama high school, and writing about such things sure beat the heck out of driving back and forth repeatedly along the same stretch of road between Winn-Dixie and Dairy Queen (which seemed to be my classmates’ favorite weekend pastime).

Anyway, I took some of my stories to my Methodist Sunday school teacher. What was I thinking? you may well wonder. Waving horror stories and dark, magic-wielding, wizardly epics around my Sunday morning church class? Well, our teacher was an attractive, friendly woman in her mid-20s, who raised horses on a ranch. Not your typical Southern Sunday school teacher, if there exists such a thing.

She was very supportive. After briefly reading such outlandish tales, a “typical” Sunday school teacher could have made any number of predictable, uptight replies. But not Anita. She simply suggested, “You know, your writing would be well adapted for animation. Have you ever thought about writing for animation?”
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