9 August 2011
Adobe Flash Professional CS5 provides a number of features for producing impressive graphic effects. These features, along with the improved workflows in Adobe Creative Suite 5, open up an endless list of effect and production possibilities.
Images can be represented using bitmap or vector graphics in Adobe Flash Player. The drawing tools in Flash Professional draw vector graphics as a native format, but you can import bitmap (and vector) graphics created in other tools such as Adobe Fireworks, Adobe Photoshop, or Adobe Illustrator. You can apply effects to your graphics using the range of features available in the Flash Professional workspace.
Graphic effects features range from simple topics like color management to more involved topics like creating inverse kinematics. Some features have been supported in Flash Player for many versions and some are new to Flash Player 9 or 10. Before you dive into the details, its important to check which Flash Player versions support which features:
Note: Flash Player 8 supports only the ActionScript 2 language. Flash Player 9 and later support both the ActionScript 2 and ActionScript 3 languages. The code samples in this learning guide use the ActionScript 3 syntax. See the Flash 8 version of this article for samples that can be used in an ActionScript 1 or ActionScript 2 file.
Most graphic effects features can be applied by using tools in the Flash Professional workspace or by writing ActionScript code. You'll use combinations of both approaches to set the view of the graphics on the Stage at author-time and then control them at runtime.
If you're working with the tools in Flash Professional, you'll find that the effects features are easy to use as long as you know where to look. A common workflow involves selecting the object that you want to affect using the Selection Tool (black arrow) and then using the tools in the Tools panel or the various other panels to apply an effect.
If you're working with ActionScript, you'll apply the effects by writing code that targets a named instance (text, movie clip, button, etc.). A common workflow is to assign ActionScript code to a keyframe on a timeline using the Actions panel. Intermediate and advanced developers often choose to write ActionScript in external files called ActionScript classes. Since ActionScript can only be seen executing in Flash Player, you'll publish the SWF file to see the results of your coding work.
The sections of this learning guide will show you where to find the effect features in Flash Professional CS5 and how to apply the effects to your project. In addition you'll explore how ActionScript can be used to apply each effect at runtime.
Remember that graphic effects such as filters, blend modes, and opacity effects can impact the performance and playback of the SWF file. The actual impact at runtime is dependant upon the size of the screen area being affected and the number of overlapping objects containing complex attributes. Be sure to test your work as you go and if necessary use graphic effects sparingly in your project.
Visit the landing page of the Graphic Effects Learning Guide for Flash and dive into whatever topic interests you.