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Shape tweening

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In shape tweening, you draw a vector shape at one specific frame in the Timeline. And, change that shape or draw another shape at another specific frame. Animate then interpolates the intermediate shapes for the frames in between, creating the animation of one shape morphing into another.

Animate allows you to add shape tweens to uniform solid strokes and non-uniform fancy strokes. You can also add shape tweens to strokes enhanced using the variable width tool. Experiment with the shapes you want to use to determine the results. You can use shape hints to tell Animate which points on the beginning shape correspond to specific points on the end shape.

You can also tween the position and color of shapes within a shape tween.

To apply shape tweening to groups, instances, or bitmap images, break these elements apart. To apply shape tweening to text, break the text apart twice to convert the text to objects. See Break apart a symbol instance.

Creating a shape tween

The following steps show how to create a shape tween from frame 1 to frame 30 of the timeline. However, you can create tweens in any part of the timeline that you choose.

  1. In frame 1, draw a square with the Rectangle tool.
  2. Select frame 30 of the same layer and add a blank keyframe by choosing Insert > Timeline > Blank Keyframe or pressing F7.

  3. On the stage, draw a circle with the oval tool in frame 30.

    Now, you have a keyframe in frame 1 with a square and a keyframe in frame 30 with a circle.

  4. In the Timeline, select one of the frames in between the two keyframes in the layer containing the two shapes.

  5. Choose Insert > Shape Tween.

    Animate interpolates the shapes in all the frames between the two keyframes.

  6. To preview the tween, scrub the playhead across the frames in the Timeline, or press the Enter key.

  7. To tween motion in addition to shape, move the shape in frame 30 to different location from frame 1.

    Preview the animation by pressing the Enter key.

  8. To tween the color of the shape, make the shape in frame 1 a different color from the shape in frame 30.
  9. To add easing to the tween, select one of the frames and enter a value in the Ease field of the Property inspector.

    To ease the beginning of the tween, enter a negative value. To ease the end of the tween, enter a positive value.

Creating ease presets or custom eases

Ease presets are pre-configured eases that can be applied to an object on the stage.

A set of commonly used ease presets are available for shape tween. You can select the preset from a list of ease presets and apply it to the selected property. You can also apply a custom ease to a shape tween.

  1. Click the layer that contains a shape tween in the timeline of Animate.

  2. To open the tweening properties, click the Tweening category in the property panel.

    Tweening properties
    Tweening properties

  3. Select the ease preset of your choice from the ease type pop-up dialog. Double-click the preset type to apply. 

    If you choose to apply classic ease, you can also increase or decrease the intensity of ease by moving the slider. 

    Types of easing presets
    Types of easing presets

  4. Click the edit icon next to Ease to apply a custom ease. 

    The Custom Ease dialog displays a graph representing the degree of motion over time. The horizontal axis represents frames, and the vertical axis represents percentage of change. The first keyframe is represented as 0%, and the last keyframe is represented as 100%.

    The slope of the graph’s curve represents the rate of change of the object. When the curve is horizontal (no slope), the velocity is zero; when the curve is vertical, an instantaneous rate of change occurs.

    You can save a custom ease and reuse it by choosing your customized ease from the Custom list. Click the Save and Apply button in edit mode after making the changes. In the following screenshot, you can find the customized ease preset with the name MyEase1

    You can use the preset eases across multiple spans in the timeline by selecting the corresponding spans and applying the ease.

    Easing preset for multiple spans
    Apply easing preset for multiple spans

Controlling shape changes with shape hints

To control more complex or improbable shape changes, you can use shape hints. Shape hints identify points that correspond in starting and ending shapes. For example, if you are tweening a drawing of a face as it changes expression, you can use a shape hint to mark each eye. Then, instead of the face becoming an amorphous tangle while the shape change takes place, each eye remains recognizable and changes separately during the shift.

Shape hints as letters
Shape hints as letters

Shape hints contain letters (a through z) for identifying which points correspond in the starting and ending shapes. You can use up to 26 shape hints.

Shape hints are yellow in a starting keyframe, green in an ending keyframe, and red when not on a curve.

For best results when tweening shapes, follow these guidelines:

  • In complex shape tweening, create intermediate shapes and tween them instead of just defining a starting and ending shape.

  • Make sure that shape hints are logical. For example, if you are using three shape hints for a triangle, they must be in the same order on the original triangle and tween triangle. The order cannot be a,b,c in the first keyframe and a,c,b in the second.

  • Shape hints work best if you place them in counterclockwise order beginning at the upper-left corner of the shape.

Use shape hints

  1. Select the first keyframe in a shape-tweened sequence.
  2. Select Modify > Shape > Add Shape Hint. The beginning shape hint appears as a red circle with the letter a somewhere on the shape.

  3. Move the shape hint to a point to mark.
  4. Select the last keyframe in the tweening sequence. The ending shape hint appears as a green circle with the letter a somewhere on the shape.

  5. Move the shape hint to the point in the ending shape that corresponds to the first point you marked.

  6. To view how the shape hints change the shape tweening, play the animation again. To fine-tune the tweening, move the shape hints.
  7. To add more shape hints, repeat this process. New hints appear with the letters that follow (b, c, and so on).

View all shape hints

  1. Select View > Show Shape Hints. The layer and keyframe that contain shape hints must be active for Show Shape Hints to be available.

Remove a shape hint

  1. Drag it off the stage.

Remove all shape hints

  1. Select Modify > Shape > Remove All Hints.

Adding shape tween to strokes with variable width

Animate allows you to add shape-tween to strokes with variable width. Earlier, Animate only supported creating shape tweens for solid uniform strokes and shapes. This limited designers from creating shape tweens for non-uniform strokes, such as strokes enhanced using the variable width tool. Tweening strokes with variable width greatly expands the design possibilities within Animate.

Adding shape tweens to fancy strokes is not different from tweening a shape or a solid uniform stroke. The workflow needs that you define the start and final shape of the tween, and Animate creates the transitional frames of the tween.

About variable width tool

Variable width tool allows you to enhance uniform solid strokes to create beautiful and fancy strokes.

Adding shape tween to variable width strokes

  1. In Animate CC, draw a line using the Line tool.

    Line stroke with stroke value set to two pixels
    A line stroke drawn using the Line tool on Stage with Stroke value set to two pixels.

  2. Use the Variable Width tool to add width at the middle of the stroke (see below figure). For information on using variable width tool, see Enhancing strokes using Variable Width Tool.

    Variable width stroke with value of 68.0 pixels
    Variable Width Stroke created using the Variable Width Tool with Stroke value set to 68.0 pixels.

  3. Select another frame on the timeline, for example frame 30, and create the final shape of the stroke for your tween.

    Final shape added to the last keyframe of the shape tween
    Final shape added to the last keyframe of the shape tween.

  4. Right-click any frame between 1 to 30, and select Create Shape Tween.

Adding shape tweens to variable width profiles

Animate also allows you to add shape tweens to fancy strokes saved as variable width profiles. You can apply width profiles to the start and final shapes of a tween, and allow Animate to create a smooth shape tween.

Width profiles are fancy strokes that are created and saved using variable width tool for easy reuse. To add shape tweens to variable width profiles, do the following:

  1. In Animate, draw a line on stage using the Line tool.

    Line stroke with value of two pixels
    A line stroke drawn using the line tool on stage with stroke value set to two pixels.

  2. On the Property inspector, select and apply a width profile from the Width drop-down.

    Variable width stroke with stroke value of 68.0 pixels
    Variable Width Stroke created using the Variable Width Tool with Stroke value set to 68.0 pixels.

  3. Select another frame on the timeline, for example frame 30, and select a desired width profile from the width drop-down on Property inspector.

  4. To add shape tween to the selected width profiles, right-click on any frame between 1 to 30, and select Create Shape Tween.


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