Bone Up on the Brand New Flash CS4

Adobe Flash CS4 Professional. It ships with a few new tools that many of us have been dreaming of for a few years now.

For starters, there’s IK – or Inverse Kinematics. For more on what that is, check out this 3-minute tutorial I put together that illustrates how the Bone Tool can connect graphic symbols together. You may recognize the artwork – it’s an elephant I borrowed from Ed Emberley:


And here’s another way to use the bone tool – on vector shapes.



  1. Man, I am so excited to use IK! Thanks for the demo, it seems like an easy tool to use.

    Did Adobe mention when CS4 comes out?

  2. I think that I read in a press release that they put out today that it is “October 2008.” I also read somewhere else that someone said it was October 15th. I wish I had the links to where I saw these, but i was all over the place today.

  3. WHOOOOOO!!!!

    This is awesome, I cant wait to get my hands on this!!!!!!

  4. Cool! Will line weight stay the same if the object has a line outline?

  5. Jorge,

    You can’t have an IK on an object with a fill. When using the IK on objects it chooses the color of what you put the IK over. So for example if u put the IK on the elephant trunk but the trunk had an outline, when u move the IK, the grey color would move with the IK, but the black outline will be in the same place.

    Is that what you mean?

  6. line* not fill in the first sentence

  7. Wow. I knew you’d be able to IK chain separate symbols together, but deforming a single shape is a surprise.

    Can you set up multiple non-connected bones within a shape and adjust the weighting influences to create the deformation, sort of the way Pins and Starch works in AE’s Puppet Tool?

  8. Yeah, that’s what I meant. Thanks Stephen!

  9. So it’s finally here, huh? Good to hear that lecture that was circling around the Net wasn’t just to get people’s hopes up. I shall tell the guys in the office!

  10. so did they fix the brush yet?

  11. Greg, you can’t set up multiple non-connected bones within a single shape. If u draw the bone tool and make 2 bones in the top left corner of a big blue rectangle, you can’t make a completely separate set of bones anywhere else on that blue object. You would have to connect the new bones to the existing bones that were in the top left… if they’re actual bones. ;-) did that help?

  12. Can it export usable video? That was promised last go round — but didn’t actually work…

  13. Ha thats awsome, just have to save up for it now lol. So has CS4 focused on the animation side of flash, like cs3 focused on remaking AS?? Are there other cool animation addons? like that tool that squashes and stretches but still keeps you proportions.. need to save up for that 2 haha oww no lol
    good on ya aaron

  14. wow! awesome tutorials! and right away too!

    thanks much aaron, it’s nice to see these tools in action!

  15. finally! How exciting!

  16. Im so glad this finally got made and is working! I cant wait to try out this bad boy

  17. awesome??? would it not be quicker (and smoother) to just animate such simple shapes?

  18. Flash 10 – at last my arm is complete again… : )

  19. Awesome demo Aaron! This is much better than the crane demo Adobe has on their website. Now I am convinced IK works!

  20. I had a ham salad sandwich yesterday that had bones in it…I will never go to that deli again….

  21. My biggest concern is trying to use IK on symbols with embedded artwork. Will that work?

  22. Flash has finally offered up the tools us After Effects animators have been using for years.

  23. FYI: I went to Adobe’s site and when you add Flash cs4 to your shopping cart it says that the English version will ship late October 2008!

  24. It’s a really awful shame that the upgrade is $199 in the US, but €296 (!!) in € paying countries. :C

  25. The bone tool is not as easy to use as it looks. It’s kind of a pain in the butt to work with. But it’s still an improvement.

  26. Mick is absolutely right.

    A tip to guys who want to animate awesome elephant trunks; learn how to draw them. Repeatedly.

  27. Interesting. I liked it in Moho (Anime Studio) to animated simple actions and nice to see it being finally rolled out in Flash.

    Does anyone know if Flash CS 4 finally has a rotating canvas ? (“virtual animation disc” like in TVPaint or ToonBoom)

    I heard that Photoshop CS 4 has full rotating canvas , so I would hope the integrated that feature into Flash also for those who want to use Flash to do traditional style animation drawn frame-by-frame.

  28. Something unrelated, but a question. Wanted to know about the Brush capability for CS4, is it finally customizable like in Illustrator?

  29. ooooh. Exciting times!

  30. Hey Aaron! Thanks for the tip! I was wondering if you could go through the whole process of rigging a character some point? Or if you know where I can see that done? It seems to work great for one piece of art but when I try to do a whole character it’s difficult to figure out what goes first.

  31. Flash has IK… fine, but here’s the compromise… Anything with bones cannot have animated frames meaning that graphics and movie clips can be tossed around with bones but cannot have a time line, even if they do, a movie clip can only show frame one. Once your graphics are boned you’ll have to destroy all the bones to modify your graphics. You cannot copy and paste bones either, so forget that idea. You cannot animate a individual bone’s scale. For bone dynamics, it has only a speed selector and it didn’t seem to do much but I’ll have to try it some more. You cannot mask directly a bone animation, you cannot copy frames of a bone animation. Each bone influences points, there is a default setting but if you select which points to be influenced. Again, fine… except the actual points are barely seen from all the gigantic thick outline shapes that indicate which point are selected and not selected, If only the line thickness of the indicators didn’t scale when zoomed in would help that much more. With triangles and squares all over the place when there’s a complex shape it can turn into a big mess that you can’t see anything or select anything. And another thing if the shape is too complex it just says “I can’t do it it’s too complicated” …nice!

    You can convert the bone animation into frame by frame stills then you can do as you wish… Quite disappointing.

  32. pinstripes March 2, 2009

    The new tools (tweens and bones) are useless if you need to swap frames inside a graphic symbol, as 99% of character animators do. I was so excited to start working with these new tools. I feel like I paid $600 to upgrade my suite and the only really useful feature I got in return was the rotating canvas in photoshop.

  33. Willy Precissi November 20, 2012

    These are all such great projects! Love this challenge it always pushes me to get something done!

Trackbacks for this post

  1. [...] Aaron Simpson at Cold Hard Flash posted a few videos demonstrating the new Bone Tool and Inverse Kinematics features of Flash [...]

  2. [...] Read more on Cold Hard Flash…Click here! [...]

  3. [...] latest version of Flash is officially shipping. Adobe Flash CS4 Professional, which was announced a few weeks back, is now on sale for $699 USD ($199 upgrade) as a stand-alone product, or as part of a product [...]

  4. [...] into my current model.  Hoping they can, because I watched a few of the animation videos, and it looks pretty darn sweet. Characters with MANY different variations, that are posable, and can take 3d transformations sounds [...]

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