Using the Bone Tool on Shapes
       by kirupa  |  23 October 2008

Flash CS4 introduces the Bone tool for creating inverse kinematic (IK) animations. If you are not familiar with IK animations, to summarize it broadly, it is a way of creating animations that simulate moving limbs or joints where interactions between various connected components is needed.

In this tutorial, I will explain how to create these IK animations by creating joints on a single, solid shape. You can see an example of this in the following animation where I simulate blades of grass (probably from another planet!) moving:

You will create something very similar to this in this tutorial, so let's get started. Go ahead and launch Flash CS4, and create a new file.

Drawing a Blade of Grass
What we want to do is draw out this weird curly blade of grass. There are several ways you can do this. For me, the easiest way is to draw a closed shape of the grass blade using my pencil tool and then filling it in with a solid color.

To do this, first select your Pencil Tool from your Tools panel located on the right-hand side of your window:

[ select the Pencil tool to draw your shape ]

Once you have selected your Pencil Tool, set your Pencil Mode to Smooth. You can find the Pencil Mode menu at the very bottom of your Tools panel:

[ setting the Pencil Mode to smooth will make your lines seem more fluid ]

Once you have set your pencil mode to Smooth, it is time to start drawing your shape's outline. There isn't an easy way to describe how to do this, but just imagine there is a stencil / cut-out of this blade of grass and you are following the outline of it:

[ pretend you are tracing a solid shape by using the pencil tool ]

Do make sure that the shape you have drawn is fully closed. If there are any open regions or gaps, then you will unable to give your shape a fill color. Speaking of which, use your Paint Bucket tool to give your blade of grass a different fill color.

I am going to go with a slightly faded green color:

[ give your shape a fill color ]

Once you have done this, let's remove the outline from this shape. Make sure your Selection Tool is active from your Tools panel, and with your mouse cursor, try to double-click over the outline of your shape. Once you do that, you will find your entire shape's outline selected:

[ double click on the outline to select it for deletion ]

With your shape's outline selected, hit the Delete key to remove the outline. In the end, all you should see is your shape.

Ok, in this page we made a great deal of progress by getting this weird shape drawn. In the next page, let's actually look at setting the joints and creating the IK animation.

Onwards to the next page!

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