By Harendra Alwis
Layers and grouping to move a triangle
Layers and grouping to move a triangle
Hey folks! Last week we drew a triangle, and this week I promised to get
it to move around. To do that you need to understand a few concepts in
Flash, namely 'layers' and 'grouping'. First we'll tackle layers.
Think of layers as transparent sheets (yes, the kind you put on overhead
Well, you can think of the Flash 'drawing area' (which we will henceforth
call 'The Stage') as a desk or a work area where you can stack these transparent
sheets. You can add them on by clicking on the tiny '+' sign that you'll
find at the bottom left-hand corner of the timeline and delete them by
clicking the trash can icon (Please see pic 1).
To name the layers double-click on the text ('Layer 1', 'Layer 2') and
type in the name you want to give that layer. This is one of the good habits
you need to get used to as naming your layers will save you a lot of time
and confusion when working on bigger projects.
There are two independent timelines for the two layers. (Please see
When you start to animate multiple objects in Flash in different paths,
you will have to have them in different layers because even if you are
allowed to have many objects in the same layer, you cannot move them in
different paths. Do yourself a favour and remember this tip so that you
will have fewer headaches.
Making something move on the stage is quite simple. When you open a
new file in Flash, notice that there is one layer and the 'first box' (which
would be better known as the 'first frame') in the timeline has a darker
outline than the rest. You will learn that this will be the sign that there
is already a 'blank key frame' in the first frame.
A 'key frame' is a point that you will define in the timeline where
you want an object in a particular layer to change the direction of its
movement, its speed, its shape or any combination of the above properties.
If you have saved the triangle from last week, open the file or create
a new file and draw a basic shape such as a circle or a box on the stage.
(Remember, the 'stage' is just a posh name for the white drawing area,
but it is useful to know the terminology anyway). Now notice that there
is a black dot in the first frame in the timeline. This is a 'key frame'.
The difference between a 'key frame' and a 'blank key frame' is that
you will have a blank key frame in places where you do not have an object
in that particular layer.
When you insert an object at that specific frame on the timeline of
that layer, Flash will automatically insert a key frame or just show that
there is an object on the stage by showing a key frame which is symbolized
by the black dot.
When you insert a key frame in the time line, Flash automatically copies
the contents of the key frame that is immediately before it onto the work
area, whereas when you insert a blank key frame, Flash does not copy anything
to the stage from a previous frame in the same layer.
(If you are confused take a break and actually try this out in Flash)
Select the layer that contains the shape you just drew. Now Right-Click
(in Windows) or CTRL + Click (in Macintosh) on frame 10 in the timeline
and select 'Insert Keyframe'.
Then while the layer is selected, chose the 'Transform' panel in the
panel set and change the size to 50% and make sure the 'constrain' check
box is checked. (If you cannot find the 'Transform' panel, activate it
from the Menu bar by selecting WINDOW>PANELS>Transform) Then select the
whole object with the mouse and move it to a different position on the
Then click on the layer that contains the object and select 'Shape Tweening'
from the frame panel.
Now select CONTROL>TEST MOVIE from the menu bar. Save your work for
next week, when we will go deeper into different kinds of 'Tweening' methods
and talk more about the timeline, frames and object grouping.
So until next week experiment with Flash and let me know what happens.
If you have any problems don't hesitate to write in.
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