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Learning to Draw in Macromedia Flash MX

Flash is the most ubiquitous drawing and animation tool ever created. Learn to create and edit images using the versatile drawing tools featured in Flash MX.


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ith the release of Flash MX, Macromedia continues to evolve the Web's most popular multimedia authoring program. Flash's prominence as an indispensable tool for both designers and developers reflects the typical Web surfer's growing demand for more sophisticated animation and interaction. However, many creators who work with Flash MX remain unaware of the potential of its versatile drawing tools. In fact, designers and developers almost universally overlook the fact that Flash MX can be used to create high-resolution, lightweight static graphics. Using the techniques described in this article, you will be able to use Flash's drawing tools to create an effective image for a Web page. If you don't have Flash MX, you can download a free 30-day trial version that you can use to explore Flash's capabilities.

What You Need
Flash MX running on a Win 98 SE/Me/NT4/2000/XP computer with a minimum 200 MHz Intel Pentium processor and 64 MB of RAM (128 MB is preferable) and 85 MB of available hard drive space. You'll need at display running at a minimum resolution of 1024 x 768, with at least 16-bit color depth.

Setting Up the Flash MX Work Area
After opening Flash MX, click the Window menu and then click on the Panel Sets item. From the options available in Panel Sets, select Designer [1024 X 768]. Selecting that option reorganizes the Flash work area to give you a more efficient creative experience. You'll see several panels (work areas). The panels you'll use most frequently are the Color Mixer, Tools, and the Timeline panel. Flash's default document size is 550 pixels wide by 400 pixels high, but you will usually need to create a document size of different proportions. After you select the Designer item from the Window menu as described above, the Panel Sets are in Designer mode. Next, click the Modify menu and select the Document item. In the dialog box that appears, enter a Width value of 150 pixels and a Height value of 275 pixels. Don't worry about the background color and frame rate options for this project; you aren't going to animate the image you're about to create, so those options are irrelevant. Click OK.

The rest of this article describes the steps to create an image for an online coffee shop called The Coffee Grounds (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: The final Flash image for The Coffee Grounds
To create the image, you'll use the tools in the Flash Toolbox panel as shown in Figure 2.


Figure 2: The Flash MX Toolbox panel and its prominent drawing tools
You'll also use the Zoom and Hand tools to navigate around your document. Lastly, familiarize yourself with the Stroke color and Fill color options located directly under the Zoom and Hand tools; you'll alter those option settings in nearly every step of the project.


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