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The least painful way to animate tentacles?

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The least painful way to animate tentacles?

Hello all,

I need help!!! By the end of next week, and I need to finish animating a creature with ten waving tentacles. What is the fastest possible way to animate these tentacles fluidly, without them losing their length and thickness? I'm using flash, and am dreading drawing each tentacle frame by frame. Does anyone have any suggestions?

I'm about to start working on it now... here's a picture of what the creature looks like:

Hope to hear back,

You math boys are really getting into this challenge aren't you? You've totally lost me, but I am glad you are having fun.

Pat Hacker, Visit Scooter's World.

Is this animation for the web or video?

motion tweening is great for the web, but honestly, tentacles look so much better animated frame by frame. I animate them 5 days a week for a certain show on cable tv.

I don't use Flash much anymore, so excuse me if I don't nail it.

Animate one tentacle using either video of a snake or pieces of string as reference. You can also try searching online for "wave animation."

Make the animation a symbol.

Either duplicate the symbol and stagger the animation in each symbol, or create instances and stagger each instance using scripts.

i would animate maybe 2 tentacles and then just paste them around :confused:

Yikes, whatever it is you are eating before you go to be, you need to stop. :D

It looks like Harvey Human and skinnylizard have got your answer. My one cent is to turn the creature on its side but I am laze.

Is this animation for the web or video?

This is for video. I've finally finished the clip, but I'm having trouble getting a certain free image hosting site to work (you get what you pay for, lol).

Wait a minute--alright here we go.

Thanks again for all of your help, everyone :)

Harvey and Skinny have it right. I'd do two or three tenticles and then stager then so they are not all doing the same thing. There is no real shortcut that you can do for this, you're going to have to animate it frame by frame. What I would sugest you do though is test out the movement first by doing tests with the brush tool first. Just rough in the cycle then see if you like the movement. Then go in on a seperate layer and do the clean up version. Thats how I did it on serveral tenticle characters I had to animate on Fosters. Do you have Illustrator?

the Ape

...we must all face a choice, between what is right... and what is easy."


This is something I posted a while back--a fairly handly approach to generating tenticles/wiggling protuberances:

This is what it looks like:

This is how I did it:

Start by drawing a wavy line (make a good, long one; you can crop down to get the number of wiggles you want). Set the path thickness depending on how fat or thin you want your vine/tentacle.

Make it a graphic symbol. Then motion tween it from left to right (or R to L).
Make a mask layer with a rectangle; size it to trap the middle of the movement (clipping off the ends of the line) until when you play the move (with Loop Playback turned on) you get a good continuous illusion of a wiggle inside the rectangle.

Adjust by scooting the keyframes further apart or closer together and adding frames to get the speed of wiggle you want.
Then select the whole timeline of the motion tween and hit F6 to convert all the frames to keyframes.

Then turn on "Edit Multiple Frames"; adjust the slider to get all the keyframes in range; select all and hit Control + B to break all the symbols up.
Then convert all the lines to shapes. Then with everything still selected in "Edit Multiple Frames" view use the marquee tool to select and clear the ends (use the boundary of your rectangle mask as a guide).

Then (everything still selected) you can use the Distort mode of the Free Transform Tool to add perspective and/or a tapering to the vine.

Then copy/paste these frames into a new symbol. That's about it. From there you can drag this into a scene, and by tinkering with the color effects, scale, start frame, etc. you can get a lot of variety out of one element. (That's two different vines in my doodle, actually).

Ted Nunes -

My tip would be to make sure you move your center points. Sometimes the little stuff can make all the difference. Couldn't really see your creature totally, but if you are trying to rotate stuff that aren't totally centered on one point that can make it a whole lot easier and automatic tweening possible. Forget your center points and you have a mess.

Pat Hacker, Visit Scooter's World.

I'm having a flashback!!!

Thanks tedtoons!!! ;)


I totally read that as "testacles" at first.

Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you! You all are so fast... I think I know what to do now--I'll post the finished animation as soon as it's done.

Do you have Illustrator?

No, sorry Ape, I don't. I don't even know what illustrator is; but judging from how much it's mentioned on these forums, I imagine it's a pretty useful program.

Thanks for the tips everyone. I owe you all big time!

Good luck Pooryorik, and Beeble you either need a spelling course or an analyst.

Pat Hacker, Visit Scooter's World.

That looks really good Yorik. Well done. How do you end up doing it?

the Ape

...we must all face a choice, between what is right... and what is easy."

I totally read that as "testacles" at first.

Those are animated completely differently... :D

Those are animated completely differently... :D

Yeah, ones more of a squash and stretch while the other is more of a whipping action. :D

Can't wait to see it Yorick

the Ape

...we must all face a choice, between what is right... and what is easy."

i would animate maybe 2 tentacles and then just paste them around :confused:

Yorik, you can also take an animation instance and flip it on its axis (mirror it) to make it look like a different animation. You usually won't want to put a mirrored instance next to its unmirrored counterpart, though.

Thanks, Ape. I took Harvey and Skinnylizard's advise from the first few posts (animated one tentacle, pasted it around, and staggered the playbacks for each symbol). Since I didn't have a video or string to refer to, I animated a skeleton of the tentacle first--basically just broke the tentacle up into segments, then animated the segments as if they were jointed. Finally, I drew the finished tentacle frame by frame over the skeleton.

Here's an illustration, because I stink at explaining :rolleyes: .


Hooray! I was going to vote for a joint-based method. It does look cool. I wish more people put actual thought behind their Flash. Then it could advance in terms of what kind of things people try to achieve with it.

I have a mad urge...

NOT to go running down that alley!

Looks great!

Splatman :D

You and me both! I'm working on a five drawing loop of the brain creature on my site. It's my first animation, and I'm doing it all by hand. Whoa, tentacles are tricky!

I have found that you can make a pretty good tentacle out of aluminum foil by just tearing off a few feet and twisting it into shape. This can be animated to a small degree so you can get some pictures for key frames, and it's generally good visual reference.

Beyond that, starting with a center line, and drawing circles that start big at the base and get smaller towards the tip helps.