16 April 2007
Gradients play a fundamental role in practically every design project. Whether serving as subtle background textures or simulating sophisticated glass effects, gradient fills are indispensable to your designs. The more sophisticated the effect, the more complex the gradient supporting that effect becomes.
The Gradient panel (download link appears below) exposes the numeric and color values of each gradient node, giving you the ability to edit complex gradients with a level of precision previously not available in Fireworks—or other design tools for that matter (see Figure 1).
The Gradient panel builds upon the familiarity of the standard Fireworks gradient editor, adding zoom capabilities to the color and opacity nodes (see Figure 2) and providing a DataGrid for precise color and offset value editing.
In addition to providing color and opacity node editing, the Gradient panel gives you quick access to a handful of common gradient and fill-related tasks. In the lower left corner of the panel, three buttons let you quickly set the fill type to either solid, linear gradient, or radial gradient. (Other gradient types must be selected using the Property inspector.) When the fill type of the selected element is set to solid, the color may be changed by clicking anywhere in the preview swatch area.
Change the orientation of the gradient to either vertical or horizontal by choosing one of the two orientation buttons located in the lower right corner of the panel. The vertical button sets the position of the first fill handle to the top-left corner of the selected element, and sets the position of the second fill handle to the bottom-left corner of the selected element. If the gradient type supports a third fill handle, the third handle is positioned at the top-right corner of the selected element.
The horizontal button behaves in much the same way, setting the first fill handle to the top-left corner of the selected element, the second fill handle to the top-right corner of the element, and the third fill handle to the bottom-left corner of the element.
The last feature offered by the Gradient panel is activated by clicking the icon that shows the Adobe Flash logo. When you click this button, the color and opacity nodes are synchronized to make Flash exports more accurate. Flash gradients require the same number of opacity and color nodes, each at the same location. This feature fills in the gaps, adding color and opacity nodes as necessary to ensure consistency between the color and opacity node collections.