Learning from the best is always a good idea, especially when the best in the field is adept at explaining his methods. In Flash Web Design
, Hillman Curtis, a renowned Web developer (particularly in motion graphics) walks you through nine enlightening Flash projects in order of increasing complexity.
Curtis calls these exercises "deconstructions," and it's an apt term. All the finished pieces can be viewed on Curtis's site (www.hillmancurtis.com/book). With his help, you reconstruct each Flash movie with no step overlooked. They range from type animation (Macromedia Shockzone) to his bandwidth-skinny (20K) navigational, an interactive media site created with action scripting, a streaming visual poem with MP3 audio and many other techniques. The spots are all aesthetically elegant, vibrant, and cutting-edge in terms of design and typography and are even a pleasure to work with.
The author is first and foremost a designer. The book demonstrates the importance of conceptualizing the clients' needs and how to preplan and storyboard the projects. It documents the motivations behind even the smallest design decisions, making this book valuable as a teaching tool and not just a grab bag of hotshot how-tos. Each project takes time, but even beginners can re-create the Flash movies. The steps are clearly explained and illustrated with screen shots. The artwork, however, is not provided. To work along with the deconstructions, readers will have to create similar art, film, and sound files.
Those aware of Hillman Curtis's work will also be familiar with that of the book's designer, Todd Purgason of Juxt Interactive (juxtinteractive.com). The layout for Flash Web Design evokes the layered, motion-through-structure style of Purgason's Web design (lundstromarch.com) and makes one wish the book also existed in movie format. In fact, Purgason's methodology is presented in the last chapter, where he shows the benefits of using Freehand in conjunction with Flash. --Angelynn Grant
Topics covered: Step-by-step case studies re-create existing Flash projects that range in complexity. Projects include type animation, navigational screens, working with wireframe art, converting vectorized video, working with streaming MP3 audio, using action scripting for interactivity, and going from Freehand sketches to finished Flash movies.
From the Publisher
Simply: This is the first Flash book for designers. Hillman Curtis has establised himself, particularly through hillmancurtis.com, as a leader in motion graphics design for the web. His use of Macromedia Flash has further legitimized it as a tool that goes far beyond the creation of onscreen gizmotics; Flash becomes a prime tool for any web designer with a passion for the next level of possibilities presented by the innovative use of motion graphics on the web.
With web design today, solutions are important, perhaps moreso than opinion and rhetoric. As such, Hillman has created a book that is tutorial-based deconstruction, as opposed to pages and pages of opinion and pretty pictures of 'example' websites.
Hillman and friends succinctly tell us what they think is worth noting and learning, what is good motion-graphics design. Then they show us how it is done. And we take it from there with our own web design.