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.

punch

fall_down

nunchaku

-Krishna

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About the author

Krishna Sadasivam creates custom comics and illustrations for organizations, magazines and companies. A champion of comics advocacy, Krishna speaks, blogs, and writes articles on illustration and sequential arts techniques and the importance of the comics medium in both education and brand awareness. His clients have included Microsoft, Mashable, Other World Computing and EE Times. His work has been featured on many notable websites, including TechCrunch, Gizmodo and CNET. His portfolio can be found at krishnadraws.com.

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  • msgenekamcReply
    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.

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