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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
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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 - Copy and Paste a Layer
(Page 3 of 6 )

Earlier in this chapter, you saw how to copy and paste individual series of frames. But Flash also lets you copy and paste entire layers—useful when you want to create a backup layer for safekeeping, or when you want to create a duplicate layer to change slightly from the original.

For example, if you want your animation to show an actor being pelted with tomatoes from different angles, you can create a layer that shows a tomato coming in from stage right—perhaps using a motion or shape tween (Chapter 3). Then you can copy that layer, paste it back into the Layers window, rename it, and tweak it so that the tomato comes from stage left. Maximum effect for minimum effort: That’s what copying and pasting gives you.

To copy and paste a layer:

  1. In the Layers window, click the name of the layer you want to select.

    Flash highlights the layer name, as well as all the frames in the layer. 
  2. Select Edit -> Timeline -> Copy Frames.

    If you don’t have a layer waiting to accept the copied frames, create a new layer now before going on to the next step. 
  3. In the Layers window, select the name of the destination layer. Then choose Edit -> Timeline -> Paste Frames.

    Flash pastes the copied frames onto the new layer, beginning with the first frame. It also pastes the name of the copied layer onto the new layer.

Reordering (Moving) Layers

Flash always draws layers from the bottom up. For example, it displays the contents of the bottom layer first; then, on top of the bottom layer, it displays the contents of the next layer up; then, on top of both of those layers, it displays the contents of the third layer up; and so on. Figure4-17 shows you an example.

Because Flash always displays layers from the bottom up, if you want to reorder your layers, you need to reorder their position in the layers list. Doing so is simple: All you have to do is click the name of a layer to select it and then—without letting up on your mouse—drag the layer to reposition it. Figure 4-18 shows you an example.                                             

Figure 4-17.  Flash treats layers the same way you treat a stack of transparencies: The image on the bottom gets covered by the image above it, which gets covered by the image above it, and so on. Stacking isn’t an issue if none of your images overlap. But when they do, you need to decide which layers you want in front and which behind.

Figure 4-18.  Moving a layer is easy: Just click to select a
layer and then drag it to reposition it (and change the order in which Flash displays the content of your frames). Here, the cloud layer has been moved to the bottom of the list, so it now appears behind the other images. The
birds layer is in the process of being moved; you can tell by the thick gray line you see beneath the cursor.

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