Macromedia Flash: An Overview

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This part of the tutorial will help you become familiar with the elements and tools in Flash. Please read this tutorial first if you have not previously worked in any version of Flash.

If you have seen animated online advertisements, played interactive online games or been prompted by your web browser to install Flash Player, you have encountered objects created in Flash.

Macromedia Flash is a program that creates interactive, and animated media such as motion graphics, videos, presentations and websites. You can control an object’s actions and behaviors using the Behavior panel and the Timeline. For more advanced control you can use Actionscript, Flash's programming language that is very similar to Javascript. While this tutorial was created specifically for Flash 8, you may use it as a reference for Flash MX or MX 2004.

When you first load Flash 8, you will encounter a workspace almost identical to the one you see in the screenshot. The panels you will be working with the most are Timeline, Tools, Library, Canvas and Properties.

The Timeline Panel is where you will control every object’s animation using frames and Keyframes. You will learn more about Keyframes in the animation tutorial. In the Timeline, you are able to layer objects as you would in Adobe Photoshop. This allows for easier control and modification of your objects.

The Tools Panel is very similar the Tools panel in Adobe Photoshop. Tools include selection (move), free transform (scale, rotate), line, lasso, magic wand, shape, fill, gradient, erase, pencil, pen, brush and more.

The Library Panel is where Flash will store all of your imported items, graphics, motion tweens, audio, video and symbols. Flash also has “Common Libraries” with useful buttons, Actionscript programming classes and “learning interactions”.

The Canvas is where you will place all of your viewable objects. If an object is on the stage, you will be able to see it in your movie. It is not recommended that you place objects outside of the stage because these could sometimes be seen as well.

The Properties Panel is where you will control and select options. The properties will change depending on what you are currently selecting. In the screenshot, the properties displayed include stage size, background color and frames per second. If you were to create text, all of your font options would be here.

As you read through each tutorial, you will learn more about these panels in greater detail.

Next: Macromedia Flash: Animation →


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