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Home : Tutorials : Flash 5 : Part 5

Flash 5 Tutorial
Part 5 - More Symbols


In the last part I introduced you to Symbols and how you can use them to create animations in Flash. There are other things you can do to symbols, though, as well as moving them around and changing their size. In fact, almost any change to a symbol can be animated.


Resizing a symbol is not the only thing you can do to it. Symbols can also be rotated. To do this create a movie and draw a large red square in the middle. Then, select the square and make it a symbol (F8). Give it a name and choose Graphic as the type. Then go to frame 30 and insert a keyframe. In this new keyframe choose the black arrow from the Tools menu and then click on the Rotation option:

which is found next to the Scale option under the Options section for the arrow. Then click on one of the white handles that appear round the rectangle and drag the mouse until the rectangle rotates to about 90 degrees (or any rotation). Then all you have to do is right click between frames 1 and 30 and choose Create Motion Tween to animate your rotation.

Animating Text

Text, like images can be made into symbols and animated in exactly the same way as images can. The technique is exactly the same except for one difference: even when it is a symbol you can still edit text by double clicking on it. Apart from this you can rotate it, scale it, move it and perform any other changes that you normally could.

Importing Images

You can import any graphic into Flash and then use it as you would as if it had been created in Flash. This is especially useful for pictures such as photos which could not be created using Flash's graphics tools. To import an image is very simple: just go to File then Import... find the image on your hard drive and then click Open. The image will then appear on the stage. You can now resize it and make it a symbol if you want to.

Symbol Effects

There are several effects you can apply to a symbol which are slightly different to what you have already done. This involves using another one of the floating palettes. Firsly, click on a symbol to select it. Then find the Effects pallette. If it is not immediately visible look for the Instance pallette then click on the Effects tab. You will get a pallette like this:

There are four different options. First, select Brightness. This will allow you to change the brightness of the symbol. You can either type in a percentage (between -100 (for darkest) and 100 (for lightest) where 0 is the current value) or you can use the slider which can be accessed using the little arrow next to the percentage box.

Tint allows you to place a tint colour over the symbol. On this part you have a few options. Firstly you can specify the percentage for the tint between 0 (no tint) and (100) fully coloured. Values around 50% usually give quite good results. You can also choose your colour and there are three options for this. You can use the standard Flash colours menu, choose it from the large Colour Selector at the bottom or you can enter an RGB value in the three boxes.

Alpha is a very useful option. It allows you to make your symbol partially or fully transparent. You can choose from a percentage (like for the brightness) where 0 is invisible and 100 is the normal symbol. This, as you can probably work out, is how you create fading effects in Flash. You create a symbol and start it and alpha 0% then use a motion tween to animate it to 100% for a fade in and the opposite for a fade out.

The fourth option, Advanced just combines these three effects.

These effects are quite hard to explain so 02this Flash movie shows you all the different effects in action.

Multiple Animation

You don't only have to change one thing at once when you animate a symbol. For example create a symbol of a square. Create a keyframe at frame 30. Then click on the symbol in frame 30. Use the scale tool to make it much bigger. Then use the rotate tool to turn it to a different angle. Finally use the effects pallete to set the alpha at 100%. Now go back to frame 1 and click on the same square. Go the effects pallette and set the Alpha to 0. Then create a motion tween between frames 1 and 30 and play your movie.

You now have a square which rotates and grows while fading in.

Part 6

In part 6 I will show you how to create layers and buttons to control your animation.

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