Saturday, April 29, 2006

The first Flash book arrived...

... and I am devouring it! The title is The Art of Cartooning with Flash and I am finding the tutorials much easier to understand than the original manual. In attempting to complete the tutorials, I am finding that it is similiar to a puzzle. The author walks you thru a lesson, making you actually use the tools and components of the software to get there, and then leaves you in a "sticking point" which you must figure out how to get out of on your own. It makes you think. It makes you learn.
... the exercises in this book are better than the one's in the standard issue tutorial. They are not as dry and lacklustrer as the Macromedia tutorials. I really want to continue. More on this subject to come!

Monday, April 24, 2006

May's project

... last week I re-installed the Flash 5 program on my laptop. I bought it at the university's bookstore a few years back, intending to learn it and make a cool animated webpage. I quickly found out that my computer skills weren't as sharp as I believed they were. It turned out to be a frustrating learning experience when I attempted to complete the tutorial and I never ended up using the program.
... Flash was updated several times after that - versions 6, 7, MX, and 8 were released and Macromedia became a part of Adobe. My skills and comprehension of graphics programs improved and my love of animation deepened at the same time. Purchasing Toon Boom Studio inspired me to reinstall Flash 5 and I dug out the installation CD, found the original manual, and set the program up - again. Determined to succeed, I started the tutorial, beginning with the basic lessons in the manual, and continuing on to the tutorial. It was easier this time, I understood key concepts and devoted my energies to learning. There was, however, something missing - the "Aha!" moment, when you undeniably know that you've learned the material and can use the information. I needed help, something beyond the dry, boring manual.
... I went to the local bookstores and combed the shelves, hoping to find something beyond that manual. Finding many books written to augment the Flash manual and teach the program, I was dissappointed to learn that they were all for the latest version of the program. Undaunted, I visited the book "resellers" with high hopes that I would find something useful on their shelves. Dissappointed again, I went to the public library and found one book that, in all actuality, appeared to be a plagerized version of the manual.
... I am not the type of person who gives up without a fight, so I came home, logged on to "that gigantic online bookseller" and did a search, using the program name and version number as keywords. Seconds later, I found exactly what I was looking for at my fingertips, a mouse click away from being mine. Amazingly, the "used" editions were remarkably affordable, the price was often less than the shipping cost. I purchased four different books, all with instructional CD's. Two of these books teach the program in broad terms and two are more specific and focused. The books have all been shipped and will begin arriving shortly.
... May 2006 will be dedicated to learning Flash 5 and I have no doubt that I will become proficient in using this program. Having explored several professional, commercial websites which use Flash animation very effectively, I stepped back and looked at the art and design concept I came up with for my homepage. The idea is solid, it will work. It is also original and unique. While I wait for these books to come I will tweek the design and strengthen the plan.

Monday, April 17, 2006

I love surfing...

... the animation forums, websites, and blogs! I am reading and taking notes from artists and animators who display their projects and discuss topics that I can really learn from. In fact, on one blog, I learned about a valuable resource that I would never have known about if I had not read all the posts. Quite surprisingly, I had this valuable resource sitting within arms reach and rushed to utilize it.
... the resource was a platinum edition of the Disney movie "The Lady and the Tramp". I bought the movie when it was re-released recently and had not seen it since I was a child. I watched it several times analyzing the Disney method of animation. But the newly discovered blog informed me that there was something more valuable included in the DVD. Yes, the second disc in the set contained very valuable information about how the film was put together and developed way back in 1943. I watched Walt Disney show off the original drawings and the storyboard and talk about the process. I nearly fell out of my chair! I plan on watching the whole second disc again this afternoon - as many times as is necessary for the content to be committed to memory. Now my afternoon is planned.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

It's April already...

... and May is on the way. I don't seem to be spending as much time online as I once did. It has something to do with the arrival of the new drafting table, I suspect. when I am online, it usually has something to do with my artwork or animation projects - generally something that is laid out on that table. I am learning to use the Toon Boom software program and am totally loving it! Click here to view a simple and silly little animation I did with Toon Boom.