Pencil Test Animation using Sketchbook Pro and Flash

Here’s a pro-tip I haven’t seen published anywhere else. If you animate, and you’re frustrated with the line quality in Flash, you have options. Of course, you can import frames into Flash from Photoshop – but an even better solution is drawing and importing your frames from Sketchbook Pro. The advantage of using Sketchbook Pro is that you have a more nuanced line to work with. It gives your drawings a real “pencil test” feel that you can’t easily replicate within Adobe Flash.

Sketchbook Pro supports saving files out to PSD format (Photoshop’s native format). Simply create your layered frame sequence in Sketchbook Pro and save it out as a PSD.

Before importing your files into Flash, you’ll want to go into Flash’s preferences first. Under PSD file importer, you’ll want to check to make sure “Bitmap images with editable layer styles” is checked. Not setting this option will cause your frames to appear pixelated.

Adobe Flash settings for importing PSD files for an animation

When you’re importing your Sketchbook Pro file you’ll want to check the visibility for all the frames you plan on importing. Make sure “Convert layers to Keyframes” is selected. This will place all the frames sequentially on one Flash layer. Also important: you’ll want to make sure your stage size is consistent. In other words, if you’re working at 720 x 540 pixels (NTSC) in Sketchbook Pro, you’ll want to insure that your Flash stage settings match.

Adobe Flash settings for importing PSD files for an animation

Below are a few rough animations I’ve created using this workflow. NOTE: You’ll have to click the images to play them from my Flickr page.





These beautiful and intelligent people wrote

  • msgenekamc
    May 2, 2014 at 8:03 am

    perfect krishna!!!! years out of school and im still watching and learning from you as if i were in class. i had been wondering if there was another way to bring work to animate in flash without drawing in flash. i admit i have taken a liking to the pencil tool over the brush but it still doesnt satisfy my taste for something different. im most definitely trying this. its great because i had just bought sketchpad pro on sell at amazon and i couldnt pass it up and my fingers have been itching to animate in flash. even better to know that i am able to put flash and sketchpad together like that. thanks for the info krishna its always a pleasure learning from you. cool animations by the way.

    • Krishna M. Sadasivam
      May 2, 2014 at 12:46 pm

      Thanks, Geneka! Glad you found the tutorial useful!

  • Thai
    September 17, 2015 at 3:35 am

    I import the sketchbook file into Flash, but it comes with white background and I can’t select the object itself because of the bg.

    • Krishna
      September 17, 2015 at 6:18 am

      Hide the visibility of the white background layer in Sketchbook Pro. That should let you see the other layers (frames) for your animation.

  • Thai
    September 17, 2015 at 11:21 am

    Thank you very much. :)