Importing Bitmap Images Flash

There are two ways to bring bitmap images into Flash. You can import bitmap images, as we describe next, or you can copy them from an external application, such as Fireworks, and then paste them directly into Flash. Although the latter process is quick and easy, it doesn’t capture any transparency settings, so it may not be the best choice for all of your needs.

When importing bitmaps, Flash 5 supports all of the formats that QuickTime supports as long as QT4 is installed. However, the implementation of this reliance upon QuickTime can be confusing. If you attempt to import any previously unsupported format, the following dialog appears: “Flash doesn’t recognize the file format of Image.PSD. Would you like to try importing via QuickTime?” If you ignore this dialog and click Yes, the image is imported as a bitmap. According to Macromedia, you will always get this warning (which you must override in order to complete the import) so that you will be aware that QuickTime is used to complete the import. Other than this rather odd work flow, there are no adverse consequences to importing .PSDs in this manner.

Importing a bitmap file into Flash
To import a bitmap into Flash, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure that there’s an active, unlocked layer. If no layer is available for placement of the imported item, the Import command is dimmed and you can’t import anything.
  2. Select File➪Import (Ctrl+R or Command+R).
  3. The Import dialog opens. Navigate to the file that you’d like to import, select it, and click the Open button.

As shown below, the Import dialog also appears when importing bitmaps. Note that any file that requires QuickTime support will invoke the dialog shown at the right in this case, it’s OK to click Yes; the file will import properly.

The Import dialog, along with the message that you see when trying to import files that require QuickTime support.

The Import dialog, along with the message that you see when trying to import files that require QuickTime support

If you attempt to open a file that has a number at the end of its name, and there are additional files in the same location with sequential numbers at the ends of their names, Flash prompts you to import the files as a sequence. If that’s what you want to do, select Yes when prompted. Flash imports all the files in sequential frames on the timeline. Otherwise, select No, and only the single file that you’ve selected will be opened.

Copying and pasting a bitmap into Flash
Here’s how to use the Clipboard to import a bitmap into Flash:

  1. Copy the bitmap from the other application.
  2. Return to Flash and make sure that you have an active, unlocked layer that you can paste the bitmap into.
  3. Paste the bitmap onto the stage by selecting Edit➪Paste from the menu (Ctrl+E/Command+E). When pasting a selected area from Photoshop, any transparency (alpha channel) is ignored.

Because Flash 5 offers full support for the .PNG image format (including lossless compression and multilevel transparency), .PNG is the ideal format for images that you intend to import into Flash. The .PNG format has two types, PNG-8 and PNG-24. While both provide greater flexibility with compression, only PNG-24 images support 24-bit color and an alpha channel.


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