1. Computing

Flash Program Tools

These quick tips provide a brief overview of Flash's tools and panels, taken individually to let you gain familiarity with each.

Flash Tip: Customize Your Flash Preferences
Changing your preferences lets you customize Flash's program defaults to provide the most comfortable personalized animation experience.

Flash MX Keyboard Shortcuts
When working in Flash, one thing that can save a lot of time is knowledge of the various keyboard shortcuts.

Flash Tip: Save As Template
Saving your Flash files as templates for future use will place them at your fingertips for easy access later.

Flash Tip: Rounding Rectangles
Adjust the options for Flash's Rectangle Tool to draw rectangles with softened, rounded corners.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Oval and Rectangle Tools
Flash provides these tools to quickly draw simple shapes in the colors and outlines of your choice.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Grid Options
Flash's Grid is another way to simplify aligning and positioning objects on your stage.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Zoom Tool
Use the Zoom Tool to bring areas of your stage into closer focus or zoom out for an overall view.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Line Tool
The Line Tool draws clean, straight lines and can be adjusted to allow you to customize the stroke style or create lines at perfectly defined angles.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Eyedropper Tool
Use the Eyedropper Tool to select colors from your scene or anywhere on your stage to use them as fill or stroke colors.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Smooth and Straighten
Use the Smooth and Straighten options to clean up the artwork that you create in Flash.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Snap to Objects
Snapping to objects means that items dragged around on your Flash stage will automatically jump to align with the vertices of the nearest objects.

Flash Tip: Swap Symbol
The Swap Symbol function is just like Flash's Swap Bitmap function, but instead lets you switch any symbol on your stage out with any symbol in your library.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Hand Tool
Use Flash's Hand Tool to click and drag your entire movie around your stage area.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Arrange Commands
Use the Arrange commands to change the stacking order of objects on a single Flash layer, and to lock and unlock them for editing.

Flash Tip: View Outlines
Set your scene to only display the outlines of objects rather than full detail, to make it easier to work without lag time for screen rendering while dragging objects.

Flash Tip: Grouping and Ungrouping Objects
Flash lets you group and ungroup objects so that you can move or transform them as a single unit before ungrouping them to work on them individually.

Flash Tip: Breaking Apart Text
You can break apart blocks of text in Flash to edit them individually.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Reference Panel
Use the Reference Panel for information on any ActionScripting command.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Common Libraries
The Common Libraries in Flash MX are good for quick references and easy pre-made objects and lessons.

Flash Tip: Bitmap Fills
Bitmapped images can be used as more than just rectangular block graphics in Flash--in fact, they can be fitted to fill just about any shape by using them as bitmap fills.

Flash Tip: Rulers
Take the guesswork out of sizing and positioning objects on the Flash stage by displaying rulers bordering your work area.

Flash Tip: Bandwidth Profiler
The Bandwidth Profiler will give you statistics on how your SWF file will behave when loaded over a specified connection speed.

Flash Tip: Hide Panels
This is a quick, simple keyboard shortcut for hiding all of your Flash panels at once.

Flash Tip: Paste Special
Paste Special lets you paste objects/clipboard items from outside of Flash.

Flash Tip: Paste in Place
Paste in Place is a method of pasting something in your Flash scene in the exact position that it was in when you copied it.

Flash Tip: Layer Folders
Layer folders are a great tool for organzing those overflowing stacks of Flash layers.

Flash Tip: Loop Playback
Turn on "Loop Playback" for continuous playback when previewing your Flash movies on the timeline.

Flash Tip: Printing from Flash and Page Setup
When you're printing directly from Flash, there are a few little options you'll want to run through to make sure that your prints come out the way that you want them.

Flash Tip: Soften Fill Edges
Softening your fill edges is a neat little built-in Flash effect that creates a fuzzy, almost airbrushed look.

Flash Tip: Optimize Curves
Optimize your curves and make your life (and Flash editing) a lot easier by reducing hte number of vector points that it takes to get from point A to point B.

Flash Tip: Expand and Inset Fills
Expand and inset fills to scale them proportionally.

Flash Tip: Convert Lines to Fills
Convert lines to fills so that you can use Flash's fill-related tools and options to edit them.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Movie Explorer
The Movie Explorer window lets you browse objects in your Flash movie in a Windows-Explorer-style tree.

Flash Tip: Swap Bitmap
Flash's Swap Bitmap function lets you switch out bitmap/raster images without having to reposition them on your stage.

Flash Tip: Mute Sounds
Turn off those pesky timeline sound effects in Flash so you can work in peace without having to listen to them every...single...time you scrub your timeline.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Ink Bottle Tool
The Ink Bottle tool is a Flash tool designed specifically for altering, filling, and manipulating lines/strokes.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Paint Bucket Tool
The Paint Bucket tool is a simple, easy-to-use fill tool for Flash.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Arrow Tool and Subselection Tool
The Arrow and Subselection tools let you select and manipulate your shapes in different ways.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Lasso Tool
The Lasso Tool is a free selection tool that lets you select all or parts of your shapes in various fashions.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Fill Transform Tool
This tool allows you to manipulate and adjust the behavior of your custom and gradient fills.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Pencil Tool
The pencil tool is a simple drawing tool for Flash.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: The Pen Tool
This overview will help you become more comfortable with Flash's pen tool and how to create different types of anchor points in paths.

Flash Tip: Making an Invisible "Hotspot" Button
We've covered creating standard Flash buttons, but here's an expansion on that discussing how to make part of your scene clickable as a "hotspot" using invisible buttons.

Flash Tip: Publishing In Different Versions of Flash Player
You don't have to, by default, publish your SWF files in the latest version of Flash player; you can customize your output to any previous version needed.

Flash Tip: Enabling Simple Buttons
Enabling simple buttons in Flash lets you view how your buttons work without having to render/preview a movie.

Flash Tip: Exporting a Preview
With a work-in-progress, it's always good to be able to stop and check how the overall project is coming along--especially in Flash.

Flash Tip: The Trace Bitmap Function
In case you missed when it was covered in Lesson 5, here's a quick tip on how to use the trace bitmap function in Flash to turn bitmap art into vector images.

Flash Tip: Onion-Skinning Animation
Frame-by-frame animation can be difficult when you're working on one frame at a time with no reference for the previous or next frames. Flash has a solution for this dilemma--known as onion-skinning, an option that you can turn on that shows a range of frames both before and after your current frame.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Brush Tool
Using the Brush tool, you can paint in freeform in Flash, fine-tuning the way your fills are applied using various options.

Flash Tip: "Floating" Tools and Panels
If maximizing the amount of space available within your docked Flash tool panels isn't enough for you, try working with a bit more freedom by undocking your panels and leaving them to "float" above your workspace.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Components Panel
The Components Panel contains advanced user interface components for dynamic design.

Flash Tip: Enabling Simple Frame Actions
The Enable Simple Frame Actions option makes tweaking your actionscripting more convenient by causing most basic frame actions to work on your timeline.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Basic Layer Controls
Layering in Flash controls how your scene displays and in what order items load.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Stage Controls
The stage itself in Flash has its own particular controls, and a tool set to help you navigate it and control how you move around within your scenes and objects.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Free Transform Tool
Use the Free Transform Tool to scale and change your shapes in any number of ways.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Answers Panel
The Answers Panel provides quick and easy access to many of Flash's help and update functions.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Color Mixer Panel
The Color Mixer Panel lets you select a wider range of colors than the color picker, and also lets you control and adjust the way your gradient fills work.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Transform Panel
Use Flash's Transform Panel to control your scaling, rotation, and skewing down to the finest percent or degree.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Align Panel
The Align Panel in Flash offers a variety of quick and easy options to make it simple to position and size your shapes precisely in relation to each other and to the stage.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Info Panel
Flash's Info Panel provides information about selected objects and their locations, and lets you adjust their size and position to pinpoint precision.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Eraser Tool
There are a few differences between Flash's eraser tool and your average graphics program's eraser tool. Let's take a look at how the tool works, and the advantages that those differences provide.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Text Tool
The Text tool is used to place text in your Flash movie as a vector object.

Flash Tip: Program Tools: Line and Fill Options
Your line and fill options are probably your most basic controls in Flash, and just determine which colors that you're working with.

Flash Tip: Maximizing Workspace in Flash MX
Working in Flash MX can get pretty crowded, but there are ways to maximize your stage's work area. The easiest way to do this is to use your keyboard shortcuts to remove panels when you don't need them.

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