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Organizing Frames and Layers for Flash Animation

In this second part of a two-part series on Flash animation editing, you'll learn how to work with layers. This article is excerpted from chapter four of the book Flash CS3: The Missing Manual, written by E.A. Vander Veer (O'Reilly, 2007; ISBN: 0596510446). Copyright © 2007 O'Reilly Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission from the publisher. Available from booksellers or direct from O'Reilly Media.

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By: O'Reilly Media
Rating: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars / 13
September 04, 2008
  1. · Organizing Frames and Layers for Flash Animation
  2. · Working with Layers
  3. · Copy and Paste a Layer
  4. · Delete a Layer
  5. · Outline View
  6. · Organizing Your Layers with Layer Folders

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Organizing Frames and Layers for Flash Animation
(Page 1 of 6 )

Viewing Layers

This section shows you how to use Flash’s layer tools (including locking/unlocking and hiding/showing) to keep from going crazy when you’re editing content in multiple layers (Figure 4-12). (Two layers isn’t so bad, but if you need to add 6, 8, 10, or even more layers, you’ll find it’s pretty easy to lose track of which layer you’re working in.) Then, in the following section, you see how to edit the content in your layers.

Showing and Hiding Layers

Whether or not you want Flash to show the contents of your layered frames on the Stage depends on the situation. Typically, when you’re creating the content for a new layer, you want to hide all the other layers so that you can focus on what you’re drawing without any distractions. But after you’ve created a bunch of layers, you’re probably going to want to see them all at once so that you have an idea of what your finished animation looks like and make adjustments as necessary.

Flash shows all layers until you tell it otherwise.

Tip: You can tell Flash to show (or hide) all your layers by clicking the Show/Hide All Layers icon you see in Figure4-8 . Click the icon again to turn off showing (or hiding).

To hide a layer

On the Timeline, click the dot (the Show/Hide icon) next to the layer you want to hide. When you do, Flash redisplays the dot as an X and temporarily hides the contents of the layer ( Figure4-13 ).

Figure 4-12.  This animation contains three layers: one
containing a motion tween of a buzzing fly; one containing the path the fly takes as it buzzes around the frog’s head; and one containing the highly interested frog. In some situations, showing all layers is fine, but here it’s confusing to see all those images on the Stage at the same time.

To show a layer

On the Timeline, click the X (the Show/Hide icon) next to the layer you want to show. When you do, Flash redisplays the X as a dot and displays the contents of the layer on the Stage.

To hide (or show) all layers except the one you’re currently editing

On the Timeline, Alt-click (Windows) or Option-click (Mac) the Show/Hide icon next to the layer you’re editing. Flash immediately hides (or shows) all the layers except the one you’re editing.

Note: If you try to edit a hidden layer by drawing on the Stage, Flash displays a warning dialog box that gives you the opportunity to show (and then edit) the layer. Not so if you try to drag a symbol to the Stage—Flash just refuses to let you drop the symbol on the Stage. Oddly enough, however, Flash does let you add a keyframe to a locked layer.


Figure 4-13.  Hiding the motion guide layer lets you focus on the two main elements of this animation: the frog and the fly.


Distribute to Layers

If you have a bunch of graphic elements on one layer that you want to put on separate layers (because, for example, you want to be able to tween them all), you can save time by telling Flash to do the work for you. First, select the objects you want to put on different layers and then select Modify -> Timeline -> Distribute to Layers.

Unfortunately, like any automatic process, this approach may not create the precise results you want. Flash can't possibly know that you want both an eye and an eyebrow to go on the same layer, for example. And this trick doesn't break apart bitmaps, symbols, or grouped objects.

If you want to distribute the elements of a bitmap or symbol to individual frames, you first need to break up that bitmap, symbol, or grouped object by selecting it and then choosing Modify -> Break Apart or Modify -> Ungroup, respectively.

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