Date display area
Introduction to Flash
The Flash Workspace
The main windows used in Flash are the Stage, the Timeline, the Library, the Tool panel and the Property Inspector.

The Stage
image of the Flash stage

This is the display area. When the flash animation is shown, only those things appearing inside the white rectangle will be seen.

The size and colour of the stage are set in the Property Inspector by selecting Window > Properties: -

the property panel

Note that the Property inspector will change its display depending on what is currently selected most Flash users have it open all the time.

Changing the background colour and size of the stage.
You can edit the stage colour directly but to change the stage size, you need to click on the size button, to open the Document Properties dialogue: -

Document properties panel

Experiment with changing the size and background colour of the stage.

The Timeline
This is where the time-based changes of a Flash movie are shown. It is divided horizontally into Frames. Movie playback always starts at Frame 1 on the LH side. It is divided vertically into layers. These correspond to layers in Photoshop or sprite channels in Director. In a Flash document, the default behaviour is that the layer at the bottom of the layer list is drawn first (i.e. Layer 1 in the picture below), then each layer above that. Please note that this is the opposite way round to Director.

Layers in Flash are like pieces of clear plastic, each of which can contain a number of different sorts of graphic and text objects.

the Flash timeline
Working with Layers
  1. Click twice on the new layer button (see above).

  2. Double click on the name of your top layer (called layer 3) and rename it actions as in the picture above

  3. Click once on the middle layer to select it. It is now the active layer.

  4. Click on the delete layer button, your layer will disappear.

  5. Select the actions layer and then click the new layer button. A new layer appears above the actions layer.

  6. Drag the layer by its name so that it is in between your other two layers.

  7. Rename this middle layer labels as in the above picture.

To summarise: -
  • Extra layers can be added by using the new layer button.

  • Layers are named by double clicking on their name.

  • Layers are selected for editing or deletion by clicking on them.

  • The order of layers is changed by dragging their names up and down.

  • To delete a layer, select it and press the delete layer button.

The Tool Palette
In Flash, all the different mouse-based editing and creation tools are available through the tool palette on the left-hand side of the work area: -

The Flash Tool Palette

All these tools act on the layer that is currently active (unless it is locked). When working in Flash it is very important to keep track of which layer you are working in.

You also need to look at the Options section of the Tool Palette (at the bottom see above). This is contextual i.e. it changes depending on which tool is selected.

Drawing in Flash
  1. Select the Layer 1 layer in the timeline.

  2. In the tool palette, select the Oval Tool.

  3. Set the stroke colour to black and the fill colour to a yellow.

  4. Click and drag on the stage to create a large, yellow circle: -

  5. circle
  6. Set the fill colour to white.

  7. Draw two small circles inside your larger circle: -

  8. circle image 2
  9. Select the Pencil tool in the Tool Palette.

  10. At the bottom of the Tools Palette, choose the Ink (minimum) smoothing option: -

  11. Flash Pencil options

  12. In the Property inspector, set the stroke width to 2, by typing it in the number box.

  13. stroke setting

  14. Draw a mouth shape: -

  15. mouth drawing

Further developments
  • Experiment with some of the other drawing tools and options.

  • Look at the section called Flash Drawing and Painting Tools in Help > Using Flash.

This page was last updated on 2nd June 2008