Little Sign

Minimal Production Notes
Radiskull & Devil Doll Episodes 1 & 2

Computer used on Episode 1 & 2: Power Macintosh 8600, 128 megs RAM.

Primary Tools used on these cartoons:
Macromedia: Flash 4, Freehand 8, SoundEdit 16, Fireworks 2, Swivel 3D (old)
Opcode: Studio Vision Pro
Play: Electric Image

Secondary Tools:
Photoshop 5, Dreamweaver 2

Episode 1
This was my first Flash-for-Flash project. I had used Flash 2 & 3 before this, but only for creating small pieces of vector art for use inside Macromedia Director/Shockwave projects.

Rough thumbnail of 7 workdays: 1 hour sketching around on a whiteboard. 2 days drawing, 1 day audio and music, 2-3 days animating, 1-2 days overcoming that fact that I was in a beta of Flash 4 and didn't know it.

White Board: indispensable

Radiskull art: The GREAT Macromedia Freehand 8. You can do alot with just Flash 4, but sometimes you really do need handles on those vectors. I drew Radiskull in FreeHand.

Out of the depths of Freehand 8 springs forth the face of Pure Cartoon Evil.


Devil Doll and the one-minute background art: All drawn in Flash 4, with the minor exception of Devil Doll's horns, which were modeled in Electric image, and then several keyframes traced in Flash.

Music & Audio: Studio Vision Pro, SoundEdit 16, and alotta gear in-between.

Mixing up a sound effect in SoundEdit2



I used alot of shape tweening for Devil Doll's eyes and mouth, and the special red pajama Devil Doll Dirty Dancing.

Radiskull, the skull art itself, was built for the express purpose of giving me the easiest lip synching animation job in the world. He just has eyes and eyebrows, and a jaw piece that moves around. But he can be surprisingly expressive when that tooth-filled jaw is combined with eyes squishing, eyebrows raising, and the whole head rotating & moving in sync with the audio.


Episode #2

Rough thumbnail of 3 weeks of workdays: 1 week doing 3D + drawing in Freehand + fussing with textures and images (this usually when I come up with what the characters are going to say). 3-4 days on music and voices, the rest in Flash- animating, drawing mouth positions, putting it all together.

Primary Tools on New Art: Mr. Schnitzel and the Visiting Family (featuring Bear Cub Boy), and props like..


...chocolate bars, were all drawn in Freehand 8. Layers were assigned to all independent pieces that needed to be animated separately. Mr. Schnitzel is fairly complex, and needed separate layers for things like eyebrows, eyes, mouth, head, hands, forearms, arms, torso, legs, shoes, and so on, and again for his side views.

Mr. Schnitzel's Freehand part shop


With proper set up of the layers in Flash, it was possible to generate alot of animated poses from a small amount of art. I planned the pink argyle abomination sweater early on with the intention of making Radiskull destroy it.

Deeper in the Flash project library, we find separate symbols for Ween's head..

(For the record, all Simpsons fans say this is Ned Flanders. Sure, he bears a strong resemblance, but Flanders was not at all on my mind. Everyone who worked with me at a certain place and time, knows exactly who Schnitzel is REALLY based on!)

I had to do extra legs for walking and stuff. Notice the incredibly lame walk early in the cartoon. Besides laziness, I let it slide because the walk was so geeky it kinda fit his character. I got better at manipulating his legs by the time Radiskull attacks him.


a look at the Flash library from episode 2:


I put a traditional Halloween jointed paper skeleton on his door, because it represents the fundamental way Mr. Schnitzel is animated.


Background Art: house and neighborhood

I modeled in the venerable Swivel 3D. Models were lit, textured, & rendered in Electric Image. Sky composited in Photoshop. Compressed as jpeg in Macromedia Fireworks. Rendered larger than target window, to give a little room for pans and zooms.

I fell into my age-old trap of doing dark graphics on a Macintosh. Most wintel machines have darker displays, and all the subtle dark hues just show up solid black under windows. oh well...

write soon,

Joe Sparks



Flash MX Rocks I've been working in Flash MX for a while. I'm doing Dicky & Jackie in it, and I am very pleased! You should pick up your own copy here:

Flash MX!

More on Flash MX: Windows - Macintosh