Explosions & Other Effects

Due to the limited time available for completing the Christmas game (check the post relating to that brief, a lot happened in four hours that I’m breaking down into multiple posts today) concept art with Tony has changed focus from the robot brief into providing aid for Xmas game development. Hopefully robots will resume soon.

Tony wanted to introduce us to simple ways we can make hand drawn special effects for use in Flash. To kick this off he demonstrated his current love of the game ‘The Bug Butcher’.

If you pay attention to the trailer there are a LOT of very quick but subtle special effects, things such as lighting crackle on the HUD menu, laser fire, squidgy/gloopy explosions on some of the aliens and plain old explosions. These are all likely to be little self contained animations called on by the script.

We were given further inspiration through the website flashfx.blogspot.co.uk and the Youtube channel ‘Slo Mo Guys’. FlashFX blogspot actually has a few handy tutorials for getting started with smoke and water effects, however my new favourite thing of the week (possibly month) is Slo Mo Guys, who high speed capture everything from grass smashing to water balloons exploding and is fascinating to watch even if you aren’t animating at the time. Here is a great example of exploding paint.


So time to dive into a flash and give it a go! After being reminded of a few useful shortcuts (which I’ll leave here for my own benefit) we began animating an effect using straight ahead animation.

  • Shift-Alt-O – Onion Skin
  • F7 – New Keyframe
  • F5 – Lengthen selected keyframe

It doesn’t take long to create something mostly because these types of animations will usually be very quick and not even a second long. Therefore the amount of frames required is pretty minimal. Here is my end result.


For such a quick exercise the result isn’t half bad and I’m sure would look better with a little cleanup. I’ll try my hand at another one soon and post the update here.



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