Macromedia Flash Work Practices
I thought I might put together some of my work practices. These are the steps I put in place to facilitate a good efficient work flow in Flash. These are my tips.
I have found they have worked for me. It’s a matter of learning these practices so that you do not think about it. Just like driving a car. Then you can concentrate on being creative and working efficiently and quickly within Flash without having to worry about whether you are on the right layer or you have grabbed the wrong Graphic or you have 2 objects to tween on the same layer and you are scratching your head wondering why the tween wont work.
Create A Graphic.
The first thing you do is to create a graphic in Flash. Say you are going to make a circle.
Draw the circle, then go to the select arrow tool and drag around the whole circle including the outline. If you click on the circle to select it, 9 times out of 10 you will select only the fill inside and leave out the outline circle. And then wonder why your tween wont work. Doh!
So rule number 1 is :
USE THE ARROW SELECTION TOOL TO DRAG SELECT THE WHOLE OBJECT.
Then when you have got the drawn item selected by dragging around it. Hit Key F8 (Convert to symbol) and Tick the Graphic Radio Button and name it. I usually use the suffix _gr after a graphic, just so I know that it is a graphic. If I am making a button, I use _btn and a Movieclip I use _mc.
Graphic = redcircle_gr
Button == stop_btn
MovieClip = bigCar_mc
Now back to where I was before I went off on a tangent. I hit key F8 to convert the drawing to a graphic. Drawings by themselves are useless. You cant do anything with them , you cant tween or control with programming (Actioncscript in Flash). So make sure you create either a Graphic or a Movieclip so that it is usable.
Ok. So now we have created a greenball_gr and it is on its own layer. Make sure that you have one object per layer. If we are going to tween them later, the tweens wont work unless there is only one Graphic object per layer. If you have two or more it just wont work. !!111!!!
So , lets tween our little ball. We want to move it across the screen. Click on frame 20 and hit key F6 (Insert -> Keyframe). Now move the ball on frame 20. You should have a keyframe on frame 1 and frame 20. We are going to tween or move the ball between frame 1 and 20. Right click on a frame , say frame 10, between the keyframes and select “Create Motion Tween”. You should have an arrow going from frame 1 to frame 20 on your timeline on layer 1. Now hit enter Key and it will move across the Stage. Flash.
That is what is meant by tweening. Now for the next step which is very important.
Double click on your layer name and rename the layer, Call it Green ball or something that lets you know what you are doing on that frame when you come back later and have forgotten what everything is doing.
AND, now for the most important work practice in Flash after using the arrow selection tool to select and name your Graphic is taaa daaah
LOCK YOUR LAYERS
That’s right folks, Lock your layers. Click on the dot under the lock symbol on your layer and lock it. Why do that ? I hear you say. Well. In flash it gets a bit messy with heaps of layers, so if you lock all the other layers than the one you are currently working on, then you don’t go selecting all the wrong bits of other Graphics. They are all locked so they cant be selected and you are safe working on that particular object on that particular layer only.
Now for our next layer. Create another layer in Flash and name it before we do anything else. Lets call it red square. Make sure that your green circle layer is locked before you do anything else !!11!!
Draw a red square on our new layer. Drag select the whole object using the SELECTION TOOL, and hit key (which key ?) F8. Tick the Graphic radio box and name it redSquare_gr. Click on frame 20 , redsquare layer and hit the key to make a keyframe. Which key was that again ? Remember these keys , they are very important. F6.
F8 – Convert to Symbol
F6 – Insert A Keyframe
But I digress, again! Now where were we? Oh yeah. We had just clicked on frame 20 and inserted a keyframe. Now move the red square Graphic on frame 20 to where we want it to be. Is the Green Circle in the way? Well hide it by clicking on the dot under the eye symbol in the layers palette. Doing that in Flash will make the layer invisible so that other object don’t get in the way and you can see what you are doing properly on the layer you are working on.
Right click on somewhere between frames 1 and 20 on the red square layer and select “Creat Motion Tween”. Hit Enter key to see it run. They both should move independently. If they don’t, start again and make sure you have all the steps correct. Follow the instructions to the letter and practice the steps until you don’t have to think about it. Flash Work Practices must be ingrained so you don’t think about them.
That can be rule number the next.
HIDE THE LAYERS THAT YOU ARE NOT WORKING ON.
So to reiterate everything I have said so far.
Make sure that you use the drag select tool to select your objects and make them into Graphics or a Movieclips.
Use the Keystroke functions such as F6, F8, F5 etc rather than using the mouse and selecting menu items. The key shortcuts are heaps faster and more professional. Lamers only use menu items for common commands.
Make sure that you only have one object per layer.
Lock your layers that you are not working on.
Hide the layers you are not working on so that you can see what you are doing on the layer you are working on.
That is it for Graphic objects. When it comes to MovieClips in flash it is pretty similar. Let me go through a process of creating a movieclip in flash.
Step the first. Make a separate layer and name it car. Draw a car on that layer. Make sure all your other layers are locked. After you have drawn your car, drag select the whole lot and hit key F8 . Tick RadioBox “MovieClip”. And name it car_mc. Click ok.
When you are taken back to the timeline, make sure that your movieclip is selected and open your Properties window (I always have my properties window open). In the Instance name textbox, give the MovieClip an instance name. Type in “mycar_mc”.
This is very important that you give your MovieClips an instance name , otherwise you will not be able to control them with Actionscript. They are useless unless they have an instance name, They are in a vacuum, unusable, a waste of space.
So rule the number the very next..
GIVE YOUR MOVIECLIPS AN INSTANCE NAME STRAIGHT AWAY.
Steve Happ is a Flash Developer and Tutor. Go to his site at http://www.video-animation.com for Flash and Web Development Tutorials