Students will utilize Flash software to animate a two-image flipbook depicting simple movement. They will be able to explain why Flash is well suited for the Internet.

Have students search online for different examples of Flash animation. Set up a computer station with a projector so that each student can share 1 to 3 examples of Flash animation with the rest of the class. While watching these cartoons, have students pay careful attention to what moves and what doesn’t. Watch it again and again; play it back and discuss questions such as:

  • How often are the characters and objects are actually animated?
  • Are the arms and legs moving?
  • Are the images just sliding across the screen?
  • Is the camera simply zooming in and out?
  • Is the face changing shape?
  • When characters talk, what moves? Just their mouths? Their eyes?

Creating Two-Image Electronic Flipbook with Flash

This is a high tech version of the first 2-page flipbook lesson in which students learned basic animation concepts. This exercise will help students learn to animate directly in Flash.

Creating First Image
The first step is to decide on an image and a movement that you will animate using Flash.

  • Open Flash and make sure you can see the Stage and also the Tools, Timeline, and Properties panels.

  • In the Properties panel, select the size (in pixels) of your Flash movie to 180 x 180 pixels. Select a background color. Keep the frame rate at 12 fps for this lesson.

  • Use the drawing tools to create an object. Keep in mind that this object will have to be slightly changed in the next frame.

Creating Second Image
After the first image is complete, duplicate your drawing, so that you can slightly change it to create your animation.

  • File menu > Save As. Name your file and save it. The file extension for your working Flash file (.fla) will be appended automatically. Like all filenames on the Web, the name you give to a Flash file should have only lowercase letters, no punctuation, and no spaces.

  • Select second frame in timeline and from the insert menu/Flash MX, select “keyframe.” Depending on your mouse, you can also right click to insert a keyframe.

  • Alter your second image slightly, then save it.
Setting the Timing
Now that you have 2 different versions of the same drawings you need to make sure the timing will work.
  • In the Properties panel, the frame rate in Flash is 12 fps (frames per second). I suggest having the image change once per second. This means that you will insert 5 extra copies for each of the 2 images.

  • To do this, select each keyframe and go to the Insert panel - add frame (5 times) or right click mouse - insert frame.

  • Test your animation by Control panel > test movie. Voila! You have just created your first Flash animation! The swf (.swf) file electronically can be uploaded to any website and shown to the world!

Flash Tips:

  • Open Flash and make sure you can see the Stage and also the Tools, Timeline, and Properties panels. If the Stage area is empty and there’s no Timeline (nothing there but gray), open the File menu and select “New.”

  • If the Stage area is filled with a menu that includes the option “Create New,” select “Flash Document” there.

  • If you don’t recognize the names of the tools, roll your mouse cursor over the Tools panel (far left side of the Flash window) and pause on each tool: A label will pop up and show you the name of that tool.

  • To undo, use Cmd-Z/Mac or Ctrl-Z/PC. Whenever you make a mistake, hold the Cmd or Ctrl key and press the letter Z. By default, Flash lets you repeat this 100 steps. You can undo and return objects to an earlier or original state.

Instructors may evaluate this project using the general rubric provided. Select or add criteria depending upon the needs or levels of your students, and/or other curricular concerns. Quiz students on software terminology, tools and their uses. In addition to that formal final assessment I encourage teachers to conduct informal, in-progress assessment thinking about questions like these:

  • To what extent is the student able to apply knowledge gained from low-tech animation processes when working with computer animation?

  • How effective are students' electronic two-image flipbooks in depicting movement?

After students have mastered the fundamentals of Flash challenge them with independent projects.
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© 2008 Karin Gunn. All rights reserved.
Last Updated: February 2008