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How to Create a Banner in Flash, Part 1

Basic Tasks: Creating a banner, Part 1

Examine the completed FLA file

Creating a new document

Changing document properties

Importing graphics

Introducing layers and the timeline

Creating a new layer

Importing to a layer

Test the application

Summary

Basic Tasks: Creating a banner, Part 1

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Macromedia Flash Basic 8 or Macromedia Flash Professional 8 can seem like a very complex programs to learn. One reason for this seeming complexity is that you can use it for so many different things, such as cartoon animations, media players, and sophisticated software. This tutorial is suitable for you if you're opening Flash 8 for the first time. This tutorial shows you some of the fundamental aspects of the program, and how to get started using them to build a real project. You don't need to know anything about Flash or animation to complete this tutorial; in fact, you'll discover how easy it is to start using Flash 8 to add elements to your web pages.

This is Part 1 of a three-part tutorial on how to build a simple animated banner in Flash and add it to a web page using Macromedia Dreamweaver. You'll learn how to create a file and modify its settings, import and add graphics to the Stage from the library, and create layers in Part 1. In Part 2 and Part 3, you'll add an animation and create a button that opens a browser window. Then you'll specify publish settings, and add the banner to a web page.
 

 

Examine the completed FLA file

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As you examine the finished version of an application that you'll create, you'll also look at the Flash workspace.

In this section, you will complete the following tasks:

  • Open the authoring document

  • Review the completed FLA file

  • Close the completed FLA file

In subsequent sections you'll go through the steps to create the application yourself starting with a brand new FLA file.

Open the finished FLA file

It's helpful to analyze the completed authoring document, which is a FLA file, to see how the author designed the application. You should examine what kinds of scripts were used to add interactivity, and understand what you are going to create.

The files for this tutorial are located in the Samples and Tutorials folder in the Flash installation folder. For many users, particularly in educational settings, this folder is read-only. Before proceeding with the tutorial, you should copy the entire FlashBanner tutorial folder to the writable location of your choice.

On most computers, you will find the Flash Banner tutorial folder in the following locations:

  • In Windows: boot drive\Program Files\Macromedia\Flash 8\Samples and Tutorials\Tutorial Assets\Basic Tasks\FlashBanner\.

  • On the Macintosh: Macintosh HD/Applications/Macromedia Flash 8/Samples and Tutorials/Tutorial Assets/Basic Tasks/FlashBanner/.

Copy the FlashBanner folder to another location on your hard disk to which you have access. Inside this folder are three directories for each part of this tutorial: Part1, Part2, and Part3. In the FlashBanner/Part1 folder, you will find a Flash file called banner1_complete.fla. Double-click the file to open it in Flash. You now see the completed tutorial file in the Flash authoring environment.

Review the completed FLA file

In the completed FLA file, you will see the structure that makes up the finished SWF file for Part 1 of this tutorial. The application, a Flash banner for a gnome website, looks like this at the end of Part 1:

The completed banner at the end of Part 1.

By the end of Part 3 of this tutorial, you will add the graphics, animation, and interactivity to the banner. Then, you'll insert the banner on a website using Dreamweaver.

Close the completed FLA file

To close the document, select File > Close.

If you prefer to keep the finished file open as a reference while working with your banner file, be careful not to edit it or save any changes to it.

Now you're ready to start creating your own banner file in the next section, Creating a new document.

 

Creating a new document

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You can create all kinds of different elements for the web or for CD-ROMs and devices using Flash 8. First, you create a file in the Flash authoring tool, which you use to output SWF files.

 SWF files are the files that you can put online when you embed it in a web page. The Macromedia Flash Player plug-in then displays the SWF file, so your website visitors can view or interact with the content.

Your SWF file can contain video, MP3 sound, animations, images, data, and so forth. The benefit of using an SWF file over other formats is that the Flash Player plug-in is incredibly common. Let's start building a banner.

  1. Open the Flash application.

    By default, Flash displays the Start Page (see the following figure), which enables you to select a recently edited document, create a new Flash document or ActionScript file, or create a new document using a pre-built template. If you use Flash Professional 8, you can create additional kinds of files.

    By default, Flash displays the Start Page when it's started. This figure shows the options available in Flash Professional 8.


    Click Flash Document from the Create New column on the Start Page to create a blank document.

    NOTE If Flash doesn't display the Start Page (the feature might have been disabled earlier if you share a computer) you can select File > New from the main menu to create a new document.

  2.  Make sure the General tab is active, select Flash document, and click OK.

  3. Select File > Save As from the main menu.

  4. Name the file banner.fla, find or create a new directory to save your project in, and click Save when you're done.

    Flash saves editable documents as FLA files. From the FLA file, you export (or compile) SWF files that you can embed in an HTML page. Flash Player, installed on most computers, plays the SWF files that you export from Flash.

    NOTE It's a good idea to save a new document when you start working with it (and often thereafter) so you don't lose any of your hard work.

After you finish saving the file, proceed to the following exercise, Changing document properties.

 

Changing document properties

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At this point you're looking at a blank canvas surrounded by many controls (see the next figure). The large white square is called the Stage, and it's where you place assets you want to display in the SWF file, such as images, buttons, text, or animations. The Stage and panels are commonly called the Flash workspace or authoring environment. The Flash environment consists of the Stage and a variety of panels, tools, and the Timeline above the Stage.

Around the Stage you see a variety of panels. The panel on the left is called the Tools panel (see the following figure). This panel includes tools you can use to create and modify documents, such as tools you use to draw and make selections.



Use the Tools panel to draw and make selections. You use the Selection tool (the black arrow) to make selections in these tutorials.


A panel near the bottom of the Flash application is titled Properties. (Select Window > Properties > Properties if you don't see the panel.) This panel is called the Property inspector (see the following figure). This panel lets you change various properties of whatever is currently selected in your document (such as an image or a frame), or set properties for the entire SWF file (such as the frame rate or dimensions).

If you don't have any objects or frames selected, the Property inspector allows you to modify properties for the document itself.

  1. Open the Property inspector (Window > Properties > Properties) and click the button next to the text that says Size to open the Document Properties dialog box.

    NOTE Make sure that you don't have a frame selected. Click the Stage if you do not see the button mentioned in the previous step.

    Click this button in the Property inspector to open the Document properties dialog box. You can then change the size and color of the Stage.

    The button displays the current dimensions of the FLA file (550 x 400 pixels). By default the Stage size in a new Flash document is 550 pixels wide by 400 pixels high. When you click Size, you open a dialog box where you can change several document-wide properties (such as the Stage dimensions, color, and document frame rate).

  2. Type 160 into the Width text box, and 600 into the Height text box.

    When you type new values into these text boxes, you resize the dimensions of your FLA file. You need to use these specific dimensions because you're creating a banner and you should use a standard banner size. In this tutorial, you're creating a "wide skyscraper.

    NOTE You can also create banners from a Macromedia template by selecting File > New from the main menu. Select the Templates tab and select the Advertising category.

  3. Click OK when you finish entering the new dimensions to return to the authoring environment.

    When you return to the authoring environment, notice how the dimensions of your document change. You can also change the current document's background color and frame rate directly in the Property inspector, without going to the Document Properties dialog box.

  4. Select File > Save to save the document before you proceed to the next section (Importing graphics).
     

Importing graphics

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When you work with Flash, you'll often import assets into a document. Perhaps you have a company logo, or graphics that a designer has provided for your work. You can import a variety of assets into Flash, including sound, video, bitmap images, and other graphic formats (such as PNG, JPEG, AI, and PSD).

Imported graphics are stored in the document's library. The library stores both the assets that you import into the document, and symbols that you create within Flash. A symbol is a vector graphic, button, font, component, or movie clip that you create once and can reuse multiple times.

So you don't have to draw your own graphics in Flash, you can import an image of a pre-drawn gnome from the tutorial source file. Before you proceed, make sure that you save the source files for this tutorial as described in Open the finished FLA file, and save the images to the same directory as your banner.fla file.

  1. Select File > Import > Import to Library to import an image into the current document.

    You'll see the Import dialog box (see the following figure), which enables you to browse to the file you want to import.

    Browse to the folder on your hard disk that contains an image to import into your Flash document.

  2. Navigate to the directory where you saved the tutorial's source files, and locate the bitmap image saved in the FlashBanner/Part1 directory.

  3. Select the gnome.png image, and click Open (Windows) or Import (Macintosh).

    The image is imported into the document's library.

    NOTE You can drag assets from the library onto the Stage several times if you want to see several instances of the artwork. Your file size doesn't increase if you use several instances on the Stage. The SWF file only stores the information of the original symbol or asset from the library, and treats each instance like a duplicate..

  4. Select Window > Library to open the Library panel.

    You'll see the image you just imported, gnome.png, in the document's library.

  5. Select the imported image in the library and drag it onto the Stage.

    Don't worry about where you put the image on the Stage, because you'll set the coordinates for the image later. When you drag something onto the Stage, you will see it in the SWF file when the file plays.

  6. Click the Selection tool, and select the instance on the Stage.

    If you look at the Property inspector you'll notice that you can modify the image's width and height, as well as the image's X and Y position on the Stage. When you select an object on the Stage, you can see and modify the current coordinates in the Property inspector (see the following figure).

    The X and Y coordinates match the registration point, which is the upper left corner of this movie clip symbol.

  7. Type 0 into the X text box, and type 0 into the Y text box.

    Typing these values in sets the X and Y coordinates both to 0, as shown in the following figure.

    Set the X and Y coordinates using the Property inspector. Set the X and Y values to 0.

    Setting new coordinates moves the upper-left corner of the image to the upper-left corner of the Stage. You can drag the bitmap image around the Stage using the Selection tool instead of changing coordinates in the Property inspector. Use the Property inspector when you need to set a specific position for an object, like you did in this step.

  8. Select File > Save to save the document before you proceed to the next section (Introducing layers and the timeline).


NOTE You can also import sound files into your FLA files. This isn't covered in this tutorial, but you can find out more information Working with Sound.

 

Introducing layers and the timeline

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The Timeline is above the Stage in the Flash workspace. The Timeline, which contains layers and frames, helps you organize assets in your document, and also controls a document's content over time.

Flash documents can play over a length of time, like movies or sound, which is measured using frames. Layers are like transparencies that stack on top of one another, and each layer can contain images, text, or animations that display on the Stage.

The FLA file you're working on has one layer (Layer 1) with contents on a single frame (Frame 1). This is the default way that a Flash document opens.

In this exercise, you lock and rename Layer 1. Often you'll want to place objects in a particular position on the Stage. To help you keep those objects in place, Flash enables you to lock layers, so you cannot select the items on a layer and accidentally move them.

In this section, you will complete the following tasks:

  • Creating a new layer

  • Importing to a layer

  1. Select Layer 1 in the Timeline and click the dot below the lock icon, as shown in the following figure.

    Lock a layer so its contents aren't accidentily moved or deleted from the Stage. You can also prevent inadvertently adding other assets to that layer.

    With your only layer locked, you need to add new layers before you can add any other objects to the Stage. You cannot add new objects to a locked layer.

  2. Select the Selection tool in the Tools panel, and double-click the name Layer 1.

    When you double-click a layer name, you can modify the name of the layer.

  3. Type background into the layer name to rename the layer. Then save your file.

    When you start building projects with many layers, layer names like Layer 1 and Layer 14 don't help you determine what's on that layer. Giving layers a descriptive name is a good practice to adopt.

  4. Select File > Save before you proceed to the next exercise (Creating a new layer).

NOTE You can also organize layers into layer folders.

 

Creating a new layer

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In just about any Flash project where you use imported graphics and animation, you'll need to create at least a few layers. You need to separate certain elements onto their own layers, particularly when you start to animate objects. You can also stack graphics on top of each other, and even create a sense of depth or overlapping by using multiple layers.

  1. Select the background layer on the Timeline, and click Insert Layer to create a new, empty layer.

    The new layer is created above the background layer (see the following figure).

    Click Insert Layer to insert a new layer above the currently selected layer.

  2. Double-click the name of the new layer so the layer's name becomes editable.

  3. Type animation to rename the new layer.

    Graphics on the Stage stack according to the layers on the Timeline. For example, anything that you put on the animation layer will appear above the image on the background layer. You will add animation to this second layer in Part 2 of this tutorial.

  4. Select File > Save before you proceed to the next exercise (Importing to a layer).

 

Importing to a layer

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In an earlier exercise, Importing graphics, you imported the gnome.png image directly into the document's library. Then you dragged the image onto a selected layer on the Stage. You can also import assets directly to the Stage instead of into the library. First you need to select the frame into which you want to import the image on the Timeline. Then you can import the image onto that frame, which displays on the Stage. You use this technique to import an image in the following exercise.

  1. Select frame 1 of the animation layer.

    You need to import star.png image to the animation layer.

  2. Select File > Import > Import to Stage.

    The Open dialog box appears where you can select an image from your hard disk. Find the folder of this tutorial's source files on your hard disk.

  3. Select star.png in the tutorial's source files, and click Open (Windows) or Import (Macintosh).

    The image imports to the animation layer (see the following figure), and then it appears on the Stage.

    The image imports to the frame on the layer that you select on the Timeline. You will learn more about the Timeline and layers in Part 2 of this tutorial, Basic Tasks: Creating a banner, Part 2.

  4. Open the Library panel (Window > Library).

    The image you just imported to the Stage also appears as an asset in the library. Even if you import an asset directly to the Stage, Flash always stores the assets you import in the library as well.

  5. Click the Selection tool in the Tools panel.

    Move the star.png file on the Stage to just above the gnome's head in the image, as shown in the following figure

    Move the star.png image just above the gnome's head.

  6. Select File > Save to save your document before moving on to Test the application.
     

 

Test the application

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To finish, you can test your document using Flash. Doing so tests the SWF file in Flash Player. For example, you can see how your code works in Flash Player, how animations play on the Timeline, test user interactivity, and more. It's much faster than uploading your work to a server each time you want to see the SWF file in action.

  1. Select Control > Test Movie from the main menu.

    The test environment opens and plays your document in Flash Player. You can now see the compiled SWF file version of your FLA file. You will often use the Test Movie command to view your progress when you work on an FLA file.

  2. Click the close button of the window that contains the SWF file to return to the authoring environment.

    Find the folder on your hard disk where you saved banner.fla at the beginning of this tutorial in Creating a new document.

    When you open this folder, you should see an additional SWF file called banner.swf. This is the compiled version of the banner.fla file. When you want to create a finished version of your file to upload, you'll want to make additional publish settings in Flash before you compile your SWF file. You'll look at these settings in Part 3 (Basic Tasks: Creating a banner, Part 3) of this tutorial.

    NOTE If you want to compare your results to the tutorial source file, open the banner1_complete.fla from the FlashBanner/Part1 folder that you saved on your hard disk in Open the authoring document.

     

Summary

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Congratulations for completing your first step of creating a banner in Flash. You used the Flash authoring tool to create a new document, add assets, and manipulate the file using a variety of tools.

In a very short period of time, you learned how to use the Flash workspace to accomplish the following tasks:

  • Set up a FLA file.

  • Imported assets into the FLA file.

  • Arrange assets in a FLA file.

  • Create and modify layers.

  • Test a SWF file.

You're on your way to creating a banner in Flash so you can embed it in an HTML page using Dreamweaver. In the next two parts of this tutorial, you will create and modify symbols, create an animation, add some simple ActionScript for a button that opens a web page, and add the banner to a website.


 

Copyright ADOBE - All Rights Reserved Worldwide

 

 

More Topics:

Working with Flash Documents

How to work in Flash WorkSpace

Working with Projects in Flash

Process to Build your First Application in Flash

Using Symbols, Instances and Library Assets in Flash

How to Build Video Player in Flash

How to Work with Color, Strokes and Fills in Flash

How to Create Document in Flash

What is Vector and Bitmap Graphics in Flash

How to Create a Banner in Flash, Part 1

How to Work with Text in Flash

How to Create a Banner in Flash, Part 2

How to Use Imported Artwork in Flash

How to Create a Banner in Flash, Part 3

How to Work with Graphic Objects in Flash

How to Work with Layers in Flash

How to Use Filters and Blends

Working with Graphics in Flash

What is Accessibility Features in Flash

How to Create Motion (Shape Tween & Motion Tween) in Flash

How to Create an Application in Flash

What is Masking in Flash

How to Work with Video in Flash

How to Use Layout Tools in Flash

What are Behaviors in Flash

How to Work with Sound in Flash

How to Create Symbols and Instances in Flash

What is ActionScript in Flash

How to Write ActionScript With Script Assist in Flash

How to Add Button Animation and Navigation in Flash

What is Data Integration in Flash

How to Work with Screens

How to Create a Presentation with Screens

What is Extending Flash

How to Create Multilanguage Text in Flash

How to Create Graphics: Draw in Flash

What is Flash Lite

Ways of Data Integration

How to Create Graphics: Create a Timeline Animation in Flash

Getting Started with Flash Lite in Flash

How to Publish Flash Documents

How to Create Graphics: Making Animations with Easing

Learning Flash Lite 1.X ActionScript in Flash

How to Export Flash Content and Images from Flash

How to Create Graphics: Applying Gradients in Flash

Process of Writing and Editing ActionScript 2.0 in Flash

How to Create Accessible Content in Flash

How to Create Graphics: Apply Graphic Filters and Blends

What is Data and Data Types in Flash

Process of Printing from SWF Files in Flash

Using ActionScript: How to Use Script Assist mode in Flash

Learn Syntax and Language Fundamentals in Flash

How to Create E-learning Content in Flash

Using ActionScript: How to Write Scripts in Flash

Working with Functions and Methods in Flash

Process of Using Templates in Flash

Using ActionScript: Process of Adding Interactivity in Flash

What are Classes in Flash

Control Tag Summary of XML to UI in Flash

Using ActionScript: How to Create a Form with Conditional Logic and Send Data in Flash

What is Inheritance in Flash

What is Data Integration: Overview

Using ActionScript: How to Work with Objects and Classes in Flash

Overview on Interfaces in Flash

What is Data Integration: Using XML for a Timesheet

How to Work with Text and Strings in Flash

How to use Handling Events in Flash

What is Data Integration: Using XUpdate to Update the Timesheet

Learning Animation, Filters and Drawings in Flash

How to Work with Movie Clips in Flash

How to Create Interaction with ActionScript in Flash

How to Work with Images, Sound, and Video in Flash

How to Work with External Data in Flash

What is Security in Flash

How to Debug Applications in Flash

List of Error Messages in Flash

Using Object-Oriented Programming with ActionScript 1.0 in Flash

How to Write Scripts for Earlier Versions of Flash Player in Flash

List of all Keyboard Keys and Key Code Values for using in Flash

Terminology

Introduction to Components in Flash

What are Components in Flash

How to Create an Application with Components

How to Work with Components in Flash

How to Handle Component Events in Flash

How to Customize Components in Flash

How to Create Components in Flash

What is Collection Properties in Flash