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I've been quite busy sending tips to various users around Newgrounds. It bugs me when someone submits something, and the quality of content just isn't there. Often times, it's spam, and the author doesn't care anyway. This post ISN'T for those people.
My heart goes out to those who have comments like, "I know it's not good, but if you have any tips or suggestions, please help." Those are the ones I want to help, after all, you can't help anyone who doesn't want help. (<3 RC ;) I've sent out this message over and over, and I've finally decided to make this a news post so I don't have to send the same message over and over and over. Although, most of my fans and friends have happened because of these tips.
Here are some tips on how to improve your art, animation, understanding of Flash.
I'm just getting started too. I got a copy of Flash MX and two training manuals on ebay for $5. Yup, $5. I was the only bidder. It helps when things close at 2am. I recommend this type of manual: Hands-On Training. It came with the stuff I got in the auction. It has a CDROM with it that has exercises to practice what you learn. It's a quick and easy read, too. I'm not ready to submit anything yet, but this book has really helped. Just find the same manual for whatever version of Flash you have. And be sure it has the CDROM with it. For CS6, there's no manual as of this writing, but here's the site by the same people who created the book, www.lynda.com.
The benefits of the book over video/youtube tutorials is that the books cover all the things a 5 minute tutorial doesn't. Most video tutorials cover just the basics so someone who knows nothing can know just enough to be dangerous, but not enough to be good, by the end. There are a lot of things that aren't taught that can really help: like, how to shrink your file size, shortcuts that make things easier or quicker, that sort of thing. The book has these things. Case in point: I saw a video come thru that had a stickman getting hit in the head and falling over, and music. It was 22 seconds with no color, and it was 14.3 Mb in size! That's bad.
Now, despite all that I said about youtube tutorials, some are better than others...
I don't know if you're familiar with Jazza yet, but Jazza is one of the greats around here, and he's got great tutorials on youtube. The default is "Featured videos" but click on "Browse videos" to make it show more. I've been watching them as I learn flash and they've been VERY helpful, not only with flash but with my drawing as well. I've also had people recommend tutorials by Spazkid and Oney, but Jazza has a lot more tutorials available.
Also, this one is by Ricepirate, another of the greats around here, and it deals with sound and voice recording. It's short, fun, and when he compares things at the end, you'll see he knows what he's talking about. If you ever decide to add voice, that'll help you sound better right away. Here's Hnilmik in action using the same principles and her magical polka-dot box of power!
As for tablets, most people go with some form of Wacom tablet. I have a Bamboo Pen I got for $26 on ebay. Tom uses a Bamboo...something. I think it's a Bamboo Fun. The newest and best(?) are Intuos, with Intuous 5 being newest (and most expensive). However, I've seen Graphire tablets new in box for $20 +/-, but it's an older tablet. I don't know much about them. Actually, the bestest and most expensivest-est are Wacom Cintiq tablets. They have the monitor built in and you draw straight onto the monitor. They're cool. They're expensive. They're sweet. (I have not tasted one...however...) I will allow any of you to buy me one. It's ok with me. Really. Anyway, tablets take a bit of getting used to, though. So practice a bit ...or a lot, and don't expect to draw well at all at first. Yes, they draw, but they also work like a mouse, so they can be confusing at first. I still switch between my pen and mouse.
Newgrounds has resources to help as well. They're under 'Site Help' at the bottom of any screen, and then go to Creator Resources. You'll find info, preloaders, suggestions, and tutorials there.
I hope something here is helpful. It can be hard at first, but these have really helped me, and hopefully, they'll help you.
Good luck! :)