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Home : Tutorials : Flash 5 : Part 4

Flash 5 Tutorial
Part 4 - Symbols & Animation


Over the last few parts you have learnt how to use most of the standard drawing tools in Flash. In this part of the tutorial I will show you how to create your first Flash movie with animation.


In order to animate something in Flash it must first be changed into a Symbol. There are three types of symbol: Graphic, Button and Movie. In this part of the tutorial I will just deal with Graphics.

To start, draw a filled circle in the middle of the screen, a few centimetres high. Choose the arrow tool and double click on the circle to select it and the line around it. Then press F8 on the keyboard. You will get a window called Symbol Properties. In this window you can give a name to your symbol so that you can refer to it later. Type 'Circle' (without the quotes) in the box and then select Graphic and click OK.

You will now notice that the circle apears with a blue line around it. The next thing you will want to do is to animate this circle.

The Timeline

To create animation in flash you must use the timeline:

The timeline window shows all the frames that make up your animation and all the layers (which will be covered later). Each small box in the timeline is a frame. The animation runs at 12 frames per second (shown at the bottom) as standard but this can be changed. As you can see above, there is a black dot in the first frame. This signifies that it is a keyframe.


Keyframes are very important in flash as they are used whenever something is changed. For instance if you wanted the circle to appear in another position later in the movie you would create a keyframe in the frame where you want it to change and then you could move the circle without affecting the rest of the movie. That is exactly what you are going to do now.

Right click in frame 50 on the timeline and choose Insert Keyframe. This will insert a new keyframe into the animation at frame 50 and it will contain the same information as the previous keyframe. You could have also chosen Blank Keyframe which will make a new blank keyframe but you want the circle to be in both keyframes in your movie.

Now, click in frame one and press Enter to play the movie. As you can see you now have a 4.1 second long movie of a circle in the middle of the screen - not very interesting.

To make something happen you will need to change the second keyframe. Click on it (frame 50) and the symbol of the circle will be selected. Now, with the arrow tool, click and drag the circle to the upper left hand corner of the stage. Then click in frame one again and press Enter to play the movie.


The movie you have created now has a circle which moves on the screen but, as you will have noticed, it stays in the same place and then suddenly moves in the last frame. Animations, like television and film, are made up many frames, each of which has a slight change from the last one. As they are played very fast (12 frames per second in flash) the object looks like it is moving. Luckily, flash has been built so that you don't have to do all of this manually.

Acutally, animating the circle on the screen is amazingly easy because of the Flash feature called Motion Tweening. This feature will automatically create all the frames to go between two keyframes to animate an object which you have moved (in this case the circle). All you have to do is right click in any frame between your two keyframes and choose Create Motion Tween.

Once you have done this the frames will change from being grey to being blue with an arrow across them. This signifies a motion tween. Click in frame one and press Enter to view your movie. As you can see, now flash has made your circle move smoothly accross the screen and, if you click i
n the frames between your keyframes you will see that it has created all the frames in between.


Motion Tweens can be used for other things as well as moving objects. You can also change their size. For this you will use the scale tool. Right click inn frame 80 and create a new keyframe.Your circle will be selected. Now choose the Scale tool:

from the Options section on the tools pallette (if it is not available make sure you have the black pointer tool selected). This tool allows you to change the size of objects. 6 white boxes will appear at the edges of the circle, just like in any other image application. Use the bottom right hand one to drag the circle size until it is considerably larger. You will also notice that the circle grows equally around its centre point. Now, as before, right click in between frames 50 and 80 and choose Create Motion Tween.

Now you can play your movie. Click here to see what it should look like.

Part 5

In this part you learnt how to create a simple flash animation. In the next part I will show you some of the other animation tools you can use.

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