Using Additional Tools

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Using Additional Tools

Using Additional Tools

So far we have covered the basic tools. But, there are additional powerful tools as well. Let's examine them!

Using a Gradient Fill

The fills we have used so far only have solid colors. Click on the fill color chip to see the default set of colors. The bottom row has some special colors which are gradients using two or more colors blended together to create a smooth appearance.

Select any of the gradient colors then draw a rectangle and you will see your shape is filled with the gradient.

These gradients are completely editable. You may even save your new gradient colors in the swatches panel. With one of these gradient colors selected, open the Color Panel to adjust the colors that make up the gradient.

Gradient Transform Tool

The Gradient Transform Tool () is hidden under the Free Transform Tool. When a gradient is already present on the stage, select the Gradient Transform Tool and click on the gradient fill. You will see a set of handlebars which can be used to rotate, squish or move the gradient (see above).

Using the Ink Bottle Tool

The Ink Bottle Tool (), hidden under the Paint Bucket Tool, adds a stroke to an existing fill using the color in the selected stroke area.

Using the Eye Dropper Tool

The Eye Dropper Tool () selects a fill or stroke color from one object then instantly switches to either the Ink Bottle Tool or the Paint Bucket Tool to let you use that color elsewhere.

Drawing Ovals

The Oval Tool (), hidden under the Rectangle tool, is used to draw Ovals and Circles. For a perfect circle, hold the Shift key while you are drawing the oval.

Enhanced in CS5: Deco Tool

The Deco Tool () is a great way to quickly make a variety of shapes. Open a new blank document, select the deco tool and look in the Properties Panel. Leave the default of "Vine Fill" and click on the stage. It will become filled with a vine pattern.

Notice all the options in the Properties Window when using the Deco Tool. You may change the colors, the angle, the length and even which item is used in the fill.

The drawing effect portion in the properties panel has a drop-down (shown on the right) which allows you to change to completely different items-even tall buildings!

The screen shot below shows buildings drawn with the "Building Brush" drawing effect.

Using Layers and Layer Folders

Layers are used to separate content from one another. Shapes can merge together or cut holes in each other if they overlap when we are not using the Drawing Objects. This does not happen when the shapes are on different layers, even when they are not Drawing Objects. When creating certain types of animation, the object will need to be the only item on a layer. For this reason, it is a good idea to get into the habit of creating many layers. In some projects, it might make sense to create a new layer for each object. Make sure you take the time to properly name a layer based on its use or items that make up the layer. This will make any project much easier to edit in the future.

Layer Folders may be used to keep the timeline organized as well. See below that three cloud layers are grouped together in a layer folder named clouds. Click the arrow to collapse the folder and the contents will take up less space in the timeline. They remain individual layers and objects, just compressed in the timeline.

Creating Transparencies

The color of any stroke or fill may be made transparent. In the Colors Panel beneath spots for Red, Green and Blue you may set the transparency level. This is also known as Alpha-transparency, or simply "Alpha".

If you had an image with a 20% transparency, it would be mostly transparent. You would easily see the grid showing through beneath. The grid is the indicator of a semi-transparent object. The grid will not be visible in the final animation; instead, any image below the semi-transparent object would be seen.

Creating and Editing Text

Click the Text Tool () to add text to the stage. If you want the width of the text to be fixed (this type of text will not grow wider, just taller as the amount of text in the shape increases), click and drag the size of the box you would like. Otherwise, a single-click put the text all on one line.

In Flash CS5, the text engine (called Text Layout Framework or TLF) has been dramatically improved. For one, text is automatically selectable. There are many additional options. See the Properties Panel for details.

It is also now possible for one text box to feed another. To do this, click the small box in the bottom right corner and then click on another text box.

Add Filters to Text

Flash text has the ability to have special effects that retain the ability to edit the text. To apply an effect, select a text box and then check the Properties Panel. Near the bottom of the panel find the category called "Filters". Here you may add a Glow, Drop Shadow, Blur, Bevel and others as well. The text now has an effect added, but you still have the ability to change the basic text properties.