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Slim Down Your Flash MX Animations with Graphic Symbols and Movie Clips  : Page 2

One huge benefit of using Flash MX is the small size of complex animation files. In this third Flash tutorial, you'll see how to use Symbols and Movie Clips to make your Flash animations more efficient.


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Creating the First Symbol and Modifying Instances
Figure 2: The "SYMBOLS!" text should look like this after you convert it to vector art.
Begin by renaming Layer 1 "Background." The background layer will hold the "Symbols! Symbols! Symbols!" text. Choose the Type tool from the Tools panel and in 36 point Bold Arial font, type the word "SYMBOLS!" in all caps. From the Tools panel, click on the Arrow tool and select the text you just put on the stage. From the Modify menu, choose the Break Apart command to break the type into individual letters. The "Break Apart" command converts the text to a Graphic Symbol that Flash stores in the Library. As part of that process, the command also converts the text into vector art based shapes, thereby ensuring that it will display properly on client computers that do not have the Arial font installed. Finally, use the Break Apart command again to turn the individual letters into editable vector art. (see Figure 2) Save your file. Using the Arrow tool, select the letter "O" and delete it. Now select all the remaining letters with the Arrow by clicking and dragging a marquee around them. With all the letters onstage selected, open the Insert menu and choose the Convert To Symbol option. In the dialog box that appears, label this new symbol "Symbols! Text" and then click on the Graphic option. After setting these properties, click OK. Figure 3 shows how the Convert to Symbol dialog box should appear after you set all these options.

Figure 3: Here's how the Convert to Symbol dialog should look after you set all the options.
Note that the new symbol is present in the Library panel (Figure 4.)
Figure 4: Here's the new symbol in the Library, ready to use.
Whenever a symbol is on the stage, it's called an Instance of that symbol, or simply an Instance, because you can alter an instance of a symbol without altering the symbol itself, thereby decreasing the file size of the final Flash movie. Move the "SYMB LS!" instance to the top of the stage with the Arrow tool. Now drag the symbol you just created from the Library onto the stage and place it under the top instance. Repeat this process, leaving 3 instances of the symbol on the stage (see Figure 5)

Figure 5: You can have multiple instances of the same symbol on the stage simultaneously.

Next you will modify the last two instances of the "SYMB LS!" text by changing their color, or tint. Select the second instance with the Arrow and go to the Properties panel. From the Color pull-down menu, select the Tint option, and then choose a color from the color swatch directly to the right of the menu. The color of the instance changes onstage. Repeat the process for the third instance, choosing a third color (see Figure 6.) Save the file.


Figure 6: Use the Properties panel to alter an Instance's tint.


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