Flash Tip - Motion Tweening Expanded: Rotation

In the first Flash lesson, we covered motion tweening as a basic "Point A to Point B" process, moving a circle from one corner of our stage to another. Tweening doesn't just cover linear motion, though; you can also rotate your symbols as they move, or rotate them in place.

To do that, you would create a motion tween in the same way that you did in Lesson One, by creating a symbol and then copying your key from your first frame to your last frame before selecting "Motion Tween" from the Properties bar, or right-clicking on the timeline and selecting "Insert Motion Tween", or by going to Insert->Create Motion Tween.

(You can move your symbol if you'd like, depending on if you want your shape to slide and rotate, or just rotate).

Now if you look on the Properties bar, you'll see on the lower half an option that says "Rotate" and a dropdown menu with the default setting on "Auto". "Auto" generally means that it doesn't rotate at all, or only rotates based on other parameters; "None" means it will not rotate, period; the other two options are "CW" and "CCW", or "ClockWise" and "CounterClockWise". "Clockwise" rotates to the left; "CounterClockWise" rotates to the right. Pick one or the other, and then set the number of full 360-degree rotations your symbol will make in the field to the right. (In the image displayed to the right of this article I set 1 rotation). As you can see you can combine linear movement and rotational movement in a single tween.

Keep in mind that the symbol will rotate around its central pivot point and that you can click and drag on that pivot point to move it elsewhere and change the nature of the rotation.

Potential Problems With Tweening

Tweening is an effective way to make quick animation, but it certainly has its limitations. One issue with Flash (now Adobe Animate) is that it's hard to get away from that "Flash-y" look. You know the one, the thick outlines solid and solid color fills. It's a very distinct style that can easily over power what you're working on by screaming "HEY I WAS MADE IN FLASH!" Tweens can also have the same effect.

I personally try to avoid tweening as much as possible in both Flash and After Effects. I think it gives a much more organic, human quality to your work if you can avoid using tweens and go in and animate things by hand rather than relying on the computer to do the animating for you. Avoiding tweens is also a good way to avoid that "computer-y" look that can, again, overpower whatever unique work you're putting together.

So while definitely a handy tool, I'd try to use it sparingly when it comes to character animation. Where tweens work best is in more motion graphic type work, or animate kinetic typography. Using tweens to animate a character walking or doing something can easily throw your work into the uncanny valley and maybe lose some audience members. With all the hard work you put into your animations you definitely don't want that, so be careful with how often you rely on motion tweens.