Using the Tools Panel

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Using the Tools Panel

Using the Tools Panel

The Tools Panel (shown above) might be displayed as one or more columns of icons. If you do not see the Tools Panel, either change your Workspace or open the Tools Panel by clicking Window > Tools. The panel will be grayed out if no document is open.

In this section, you will have a chance to practice with some of the most important tools. Of course, as the Lessons progress, you will be introduced to other tools as well as the ones covered in this section.

Relax and feel free to experiment with the drawing tools with no worries about how it looks. Just focus on getting the feel of the tools.

Rectangle Tool

With a new blank document open, select the Rectangle Tool () by single-clicking on it. To draw a rectangle on the stage, left-click and drag from one corner to another, releasing the mouse once the desired shape is achieved.

A rectangle will appear with the two colors shown at the bottom of the Tools Panel . The Stroke Color will be the line on the outside and the Fill Color on the inside. Notice that there is a pencil next to the Stroke Color and a paint bucket next to the Fill Color. Keep in mind as we look at the other tools that paint always refers to fills and a pencil always refers to the stroke.

Selection Tool

The Selection Tool () is the black arrow. Selection Tool is the most common tool used to select any item on the Stage or Timeline. Back to our example, once your rectangle is created, single-click on the Selection Tool, then single-click on the edge of the shape, also known as the Stroke. One side of the rectangle will be selected (see graphic on right).

Double-click on the edge of the shape and the entire stroke will be selected.

The Selection Tool can also be used to alter shapes. Roll your mouse around the edges of your rectangle. The mouse icon changes as you pass over a corner or a straight section. With the Rectangle deselected, click on a corner and drag it. Now, click on a side of the rectangle and drag it. Did you change the rectangle? Remember, you may always Edit > Undo any steps you wish to take back as you experiment.

Strokes and Fills

The Stroke is the line on the outside of your rectangle (if you have one). The Fill (again, if you have one) is the color on the inside. All Shapes in Flash are made up of strokes and/or fills. The Rectangle Tool can create both strokes and fills. Some tools will only create one or the other. In order to learn about strokes and fills, you may practice with your own rectangle drawing or you may open ours saved as DrawingTools/demos/StrokesFills.fla.

Try to squish or stretch the shapes by clicking and dragging on the edges As you can see, the fill will expand to fill the complete area inside the stroke.

Merge Mode vs. Drawing Object Mode

The shapes created above were created in Merge Mode. The name comes from the fact that all the shapes in merge mode can merge with each other. Try it! Drag one rectangle onto a second. Then, click on a blank part of the stage (to deselect). Like colors will merge together and different colors will chop holes in each other!

Object Drawing Mode, on the other hand, places the stroke and fill into a special kind of group called a Drawing Object. With the Rectangle Tool selected, you may turn on Object Drawing Mode by clicking on the small circle at the bottom of the Tools Panel while you have the Rectangle Tool selected.

The following demo is saved as DrawingTools/demos/MergeModeDrawMode.fla.

Open the Properties Inspector then single-click on the green circle on the left. Notice the Properties Panel shows the fill is a shape.

Next you will single-click on the green circle on the right. The Properties Panel shows the circle is a Drawing Object. This means it will not merge with another shape. If you drag it onto the other green circle, it will not create a hole. Notice the blue line that surrounds it on the stage, this is an indicator of it being a Drawing Object.

If you double-click on a drawing object, everything else on the stage will be grayed out. You will be editing the shapes that make up the drawing object.

Notice near the top of the screen that the words "Drawing Object" just appeared next to the name of your Scene. You are now editing this object. To go back to the main stage, click on "Scene 1".

Pencil Tool

The Pencil Tool () is used to draw a stroke freehand with your mouse. It can be difficult to accurately draw with the mouse. But, when the Pencil Tool is selected you will see an option at the bottom of the Tools Panel for Straighten, Smooth, or Ink. These options change how your line is drawn.

Line Tool

The Line Tool () also creates a stroke. But, it creates only straight lines. Of course, after the line is drawn you may adjust it in any way that you may adjust a stroke.

The Free Transform Tool and Transform Panel

The Free Transform Tool () and the Transform Panel (available under Window > Transform) are both used to stretch, squish, rotate or otherwise change an object shape on the stage. With the Free Transform Tool selected, the bounding box around your selection will have handles to drag and modify the shape.

The Transform Panel is used to change dimensions numerically. For example, reduce the width and height to 50% of the original size.