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Review of How to Cheat in Adobe Flash CS4


I like this book, How to Cheat in AdobeR FlashR CS4, for several reasons. First, the book contains a lot of fun projects, called "workthroughs". The author, Chris Georgenes, has assembled many small yet interesting projects for each major topic. Secondly, Georgenes has presented these projects in such a way as to show a progression of Flash techniques from old Flash CS3 to the new Flash CS4. Most of these projects are real-world examples that Georgenes has created for his clients.

The author teaches you his own "organic" and flexible approach to Flash. Georgenes began as a traditional artist and entered the digital world and Flash after his formal training. True to the traditional artists, he begins teaching the art of Flash animation by teaching how to draw in Flash. He begins with basic shapes and moves on to colors, gradients and textures. Each project teaches a drawing technique ranging from simple to complex. After covering these basic Flash drawing techniques, he moves on to the new drawing tools in CS4 such as the Deco and Spray Brush tools.

Introducing the topic of Flash animation, he next teaches transformation techniques for building simple animations. The projects for this section of the book represent the most popular animation techniques that you may be required to create for a client such as the pseudo 3D card flip and animated wings in flight. Georgenes discusses both the well established techniques to create these effects and also the new 3D tools in CS4 and the difference these new tools can have on your workflow. Masking is the next topic, followed by the new CS4 Motion Tween and Motion Editor. I really liked the projects in these sections of the book becausse they demonstrated how to combine several individual techniques into a complex project such as character animation. The next few projects cover character animation techniques including lip syncing, walk cycles and looping backgrounds. Understanding how to create each of these techniques is the first step to building your own complex animations. I enjoyed the many how-to examples of popular animations such as a page turn, rain and snow.

Since video was introduced to Flash, a book about Flash must discuss how to use these two together. Georgenes takes you from project setup through many of the CS3 and CS4 video-related techniques. The author also covers preparing sound for Flash and incorporating sound into your Flash projects. He touches on simple ActionScript such as event handling, the drag method, pausing the Timeline and loading external images. Finally, he touches on some advanced topics such as Flash JavaScript (JSFL), creating your own Flash extensions and some of the most popular Flash plugins.

Most of the projects can be duplicated in either Flash CS3 or CS4 and you may be familiar with some due to their continued popularity. The CD contains the source files for the book's projects along with other resources including many free Flash extensions. There is a forum on the author's website, keyframer.com, and another website dedicated to the book, howtocheatinflash.com.

Chris Georgenes is the Art and Animation Director for Acclaim Games and a course author and instructor at sessions.edu.

* Focal Press provided a review copy of this book to me free of charge.

Author: Chris Georgenes
Pages: 336 pages
Publisher: Focal Press
Published: April 16, 2009
ISBN-10: 0240521315
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Content copyright © 2014 by Diane Cipollo. All rights reserved.
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