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Powerpuff Girls Are Flashier Than Ever

Powerpuff Girls

Earlier this week, Cartoon Network premiered a new episode of The Powerpuff Girls in honor of the show’s tenth anniversary. Notably, the cartoon was produced in Flash for the first time. All previous episodes were animated traditionally on paper. In this post at Cold Hard Flash, creator Craig McCracken and animation director Eric Pringle discuss how they transitioned the show from hand-drawn to Flash. McCracken, who came up with the characters in 1991, thinks the show should have been made in Flash from day one:

“The show was designed with very tight, crisp, bold, clean-ups. Because it was originally hand-drawn, the line weights always varied, but with Flash we were able to get that crisp look every time. Looking back at the PPG series, I realized I designed a Flash show before Flash was invented!”

On an semi-related note, why didn’t I know Craig has his own DeviantArt page with over 5,000 fans on it? The image at the top of this post–the first drawing he ever did of the crime-fighting trio–is taken from his DeviantArt.

  • mwb

    Wait so you’re say that Powerpuff Girls complete series 10th anniversary box set that just came out and should be arriving shortly at my mailbox – may not be complete!



    More seriously, always good to see more PPG. Now if they could get the rest of Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends out on DVD (still stuck at season two.)

  • uncle wayne

    “PPG” is easily one of the funniest shows on the air. I have loved it since day 1! Viva PPG!!

  • It was really fun to work on. It was the first time I got to animate on 2’s in over 15 years. I remember when I first discovered Flash, way back in the day, how I told everyone that PowerPuff Girls could be animated with it. They laughed and told me that Flash would never be used for broadcast. Oh well, live and learn.

  • Andrew


    McCracken needs to do his homework. Flash existed way before the PPG. A more appropriate phrase would be “utilized regularly for television animation”.

  • It never crossed my mind that the Powerpuff Girls could be done in Flash until I too read the article. The marathon on Monday provided a chance to compare the two and I must say, Flash is an excellent fit for the show. Of course, the colours were much more vivid and even, but the anaimation itself was very smooth. For the unititated, it would be rather hard to tell the difference between the two. Craig and his crew have certainly developed a knack for top-quality Flash shows. Although I still can’t see Flash as being a completely viable alternative to traditional animation on TV. It worked well for the Powerpuff Girls because of the overall as well as directional style; I can’t help but wonder what a show like Ren & Stimpy would be like if they were done in Flash.

  • Jay Taylor

    Seriously, am I the only one that felt the special was a total disaster?

    It was very obviously flash, and not in a good way. The constant pop culture references, and awful songs, were entirely inappropriate, and didn’t really feel right. They’ve done those things before, but not to this extent.

    Honestly, it’s like they took everything wrong with Fosters, and made a powerpuff girls special out of it.

    My respect for Craig McCracken was cut in half after seeing this.

  • Chuck R.

    Okay, Maybe I need my eyes checked, but I always assumed PPG was animated in Flash. If they were going for a tight, vector-y look, they really achieved it.

  • I thought the special was great. I was never big on PPG in the first place but it was worth revisiting it. Craig McCracken is definitely one of the most talented in the television animation.

    I wish him best of luck with Cartoonistitute.

    Flash can do amazing things. Superjail is alao animated with the software but you can hardly tell by watching it.

  • I bought two sets of the DVD collection yesterday…

  • Steve Gattuso

    Mr. McCracken’s wife also has a DA page: http://fyre-flye.deviantart.com/

  • Andrew – if you count McCracken’s student short “Whoopass Stew” (1992) as the first PPG project, it did predate Flash by 4 years, which bowed in 1996.

  • Kyle Maloney

    “Okay, Maybe I need my eyes checked, but I always assumed PPG was animated in Flash. If they were going for a tight, vector-y look, they really achieved it.”

    Yeah, same here, I thought it was always flash, save for the very early episodes. like the original pitch.

  • captain murphy

    I too thought that it was designed for Flash, and that aspect as part of its production costs may have been why Time Warner AOL or whatever form they were at the time, greenlighted it. Other than the fact that that look killed over the Care Bears/Gummi bears/ Dic product saturating TV animation at the time.

    But it retrospect, it probably would have shown more of Flash’s flaws if so.

  • Anonymouse

    Very cool show, I barely notice a difference between the classical and Flash show.

  • Nice! Definitely a show that seems just perfect for flash.

    Chris Sanders recently started a DA page as well, I’m not sure if that has been mentioned here yet – http://alohalilo.deviantart.com/

  • Danny S.

    “I can’t help but wonder what a show like Ren & Stimpy would be like if they were done in Flash”
    Well John has done plenty of Flash cartoons, heck, didn’t that guy invent flash animation! The old ones are not up to par with R&S, but if you watch “Close but no Cigar,” “Classico,” and that Comcast commercial on youtube, I’m sure your questions would be answered. There’s also “Pussycow” that does have its flashy flaws, but that was made years ago.

    “It was very obviously flash, and not in a good way. The constant pop culture references, and awful songs, were entirely inappropriate, and didn’t really feel right.”
    What was obviously flash and not in a good way? Because I can barely tell, other than the lines being extremely crisp. Or are you saying that flash made PPG constant pop culture references and awful songs? If that’s the case you obviously don’t know what you are saying.

  • Jay Taylor

    Danny: Yeah, I’m saying FLASH made the pop culture references. Are you serious?

    Just because you can’t tell doesn’t make ME a moron.

    I have two younger brothers who saw this, they’re 12 and 11. Even they could tell it was done in flash.

    One thing that gave it away was the animation itself. Noticeable motion tweening, and that over shoot and settle technique.

    All of that aside, the content of the special was just plain awful. It’s like I said before, they took everything wrong with Foster’s and made a powerpuff girls special out of it.

    The pacing was completely frantic. The characters went in and out of character constantly. Then of course you have the awful pop culture references, and those stupid 80s songs thrown in.

    I’m completely shocked at peoples reactions to this special. You watch the original series, and then you watch the special, and you SHOULD be able to tell the difference not only as far as the animation is concerned, but also the content. People saying they always thought the show was done in flash… really?

    I’m starting to lose faith in the animation community.

  • Jay Taylor

    I’m happy to see some people commenting on a clip from the special on youtube. Seems I’m not alone in thinking it was terrible. A few people even comment on it being animated in flash. :)

  • Yeah, we get it already, Jay. You didn’t like it.

  • Jay Taylor

    Oh, sorry. Didn’t mean to explain myself. Moving right along…

  • Funny thing. We took out the tweening an opted to animate on twos. We had minimized the formula and actually had the creator of the show oversee the animation – and he loved it. My kids thought the show was funny – but hey guess there’s no pleasing everybody.

  • Jay Taylor

    Bob: I saw tweening.

    There’s a clip from the special on youtube that I can reference.

    Mojo’s singing. He takes his helmet off. The animation of his brain is scaling. His gloves, and cape dropping is tweening and scaling. The tear in his eye is scaling. The plans he throws in the trash is motion tweening.

    There’s many more examples in that one clip alone.

    I’m actually shocked that Craig was involved because it has a completely different feel from the original series. Actually, it felt more like Fosters, so I suppose Craig’s tastes have changed since PPG.

    Watching some of the marathon that day, I loved the early seasons that were done traditionally. They looked wonderful, and sadly, no shows are done that way anymore. By comparison, flash just doesn’t cut it for ME.

    Oh well. Don’t mind me. I’m waiting for the complete series DVD’s to arrive :)

  • Jay,
    I was amused reading these comments and really really didn’t want to chime in but I have to correct you. All of the scenes you have mentioned do not contain tweening. I know because I made sure of it. When your dvds come in the mail you can frame by frame them and make sure. Thanks for watching the special and I appreciate all of your input, next time I will try harder making a flash animated product you will enjoy.

  • In 1998 I was in college, and for one of my papers I interviewed Craig McCracken about PPG. This was, as the man suggests, way before any serious expanded use of Flash – but still I was asking him about why they weren’t using vector software to acheive all that thick-line business.
    As it goes, my lecturers didn’t even know who Craig McCracken was and I got a C for that paper. I also interviewed John K that year and got a C for that paper too.
    The moral of the story is that College sucked and I rule.

  • Jay Taylor

    Eric: Well then, I’m confused. Why animate it in a way that looks so much like motion tweening?

    Anyways, you don’t have to worry about pleasing me. Nobody’s going back to traditional ink & paint, so I’ll probably never be satisfied.

  • Oluseyi

    @Jay Taylor:

    > Nobody’s going back to traditional ink & paint, so I’ll probably never be satisfied.

    Gee, and here I thought we cared about /animation/, not software or computers or ink or paper or paint – which are just tools of production.