Why it is impossible to learn how to animate with Flash

[Note: These are thoughts on a blog. Don't be offended, for this is as opinionated as it gets.]

I have a huge problem with flash, and it's not knowing how to use it. I can work in Flash just fine, but I have come to a realization that it is not a tool meant to be leaned upon when it comes to learning animation. Flash animation is a stylized form of animation, but one that is built off of essential animation principles. To learn the principles, you'd have to play with them on paper first before you'd understand it. For anything stylized, you can adapt to it AFTER the basics. Your mind can't just see it, your hand has to feel it as well--from the squash to stretch to sway to slam.

How do you learn to animate the force of a punch? The stretch of a pull? A delicate flutter? You make faces when you draw expressions.. don't you? Do you only imagine the face in your mind as you draw the expression? No. Can you animate a believable motion with only a passive arm? No. You have to project the energy of the movement from your mind to your arm.

I wish I was taught this more strictly earlier in college; instead, I was taught that Flash was more of an optional medium rather than a different (cheaper) way of animating. It CAN be used to draw high end animation, but only if you KNOW how to draw it first. Flash will never be "easier" to learn with (as most people claim since it's digital), but it may be easier to work with after you've learned animation on paper. That is the most common mistake.

Haha no, learning on a tablet screen will not work either. Not because it's closer to simulating drawing on paper, but because it doesn't feel like paper. It's like trying to understand how to kick forcefully while standing on something slippery like ice. You don't get the maximum exaggeration on synthesized lines.

It's just like what a fellow animator lectured once: Shortcuts are only illusions.


  1. Ah the beauty of learning.

  2. Whooaaaa people are agreeing with me! :P

  3. Yep, its true..I've wondered these myself..I mean the feel of the pencil isn't just there..like when you do lines with a pencil and with a tablet..there is definitely a difference..but well then again I've never animated using pencil and paper..(though I plan to once I get my hands on a lightbox...) But yeah well said indeed.