Finally, Flash has a Pen Tool. Some developers groused over the addition of this new feature, saying that the original drawing set was fine and that this was only being added to attract new users who might be more familiar with FreeHand or other drawing programs. Frankly, these people sounded like members of a child’s club, comfortable in their tree fort, as they haul up the rope ladder. The inclusion of the Pen Tool and its close associate, the Subselect Arrow, shown in below , has made the Flash drawing tools far more robust and gives artists more options for creating, editing, and optimizing their art.
For example, previously, when trying to the reduce file size of a movie, an artist might resort to one of the Optimize commands, hoping to reduce the number of points in a drawing. But this had the disadvantage of being both unpredictable and uncontrollable. Now, with the Pen Tool, an artist can select individual points and delete them one by one, resulting in aesthetic precision and reduced file size!
Neither the Pen Tool nor the Subselect Tool has options in the Options Tray.
Using the Pen Tool
The Pen Tool (P) is used to draw precision paths that define straight lines and smooth curves. These paths define adjustable line segments, which may be straight or curved the angle and length of straight segments is completely adjustable, as is the slope and length of curved segments. To draw a series of straight-line segments with the Pen Tool, simply move the cursor and click successively: Each subsequent click defines the end point of the line. To draw curved line segments with the Pen Tool, simply click and drag: The length and direction of the drag determines the depth and shape of the current segment. Both straight- and curved-line segments can be modified and edited by adjusting their points. In addition, any lines or shapes that have been created by other Flash drawing tools can also be displayed as paths (points on lines) and edited with either the Pen Tool or the Subselect Tool.
Below it shows, the Pen Tool cursor displays a number of tiny icons to the lower right of the Pen Tool. These are the Pen states. Four of these Pen states are shown in this composite image, which is a detail of a path describing a white line over a light-gray background, shown at a zoom of 1600.
In addition to the choice between the cursor icon and crosshair, the Pen Tool displays seven Pen states that indicate the Pen’s function under various circumstances.
As shown below, there are three more Pen states and a number of details to be defined about the Pen Tool.
More Pen states are shown in this composite image, together with other functions of the Pen Tool.
Now that we’ve toured the various Pen Tool icons and Pen states, and have defined the fine details, points, and tangent handles, it’s time to start drawing with the Pen Tool. To draw and adjust a straight-line segment with the Pen Tool, follow these steps:
To draw and adjust a curved line segment with the Pen Tool, follow these steps:
Although both corner points and curve points may be adjusted, they behave differently:
Using the Subselect (Arrow) Tool
The Subselect Tool (A) has two purposes:
Below it shows the use of the Subselect Tool to move a path (A), to move a single point (B), to select a tangent handle (C), and to modify a curve by adjusting its tangent handle (D). Note that both the before and after are shown before releasing the handle.
Using the Subselect Tool
The Subselect Tool is most useful for modifying and adjusting paths. To display anchor points on a line or shape outline created with the Pencil, Brush, Line, Oval, or Rectangle Tools, simply click the line or shape outline with the Subselect Tool. This reveals the points that define the line or shape. Click any point to cause its tangent handles to appear. If you have a shape that is all fill, without any stroke, you’ll need to position the Subselect Tool precisely at the edge of the shape in order to select or move it with the Subselect Tool.
To convert a corner point into a curve point, follow these steps:
An important use of the Pen Tool/Subselect Tool combo is editing lines for optimal file size. The simpler your shapes, the smaller your file size and the faster your movie downloads. Most often, this involves deleting extraneous points. There are a couple of ways to delete points:
Stroke and color
You may have noticed that we’ve been discussing the Pen Tool and the Subselect Tool in a relative vacuum—that is, there’s been no mention yet of either stroke or color. Well that’s easy enough to do, because both those controls are sequestered off in the Stroke Panel. But that’s not why we’ve refrained from discussing the more colorful aspects of the Pen Tool.
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Understanding The Flash Framework
Exploring The Interface: Panels, Settings, And More
Using Tools For Navigation And Viewing
Working With Selections And The Pen Tool
Working With The Drawing And Painting Tools
Working With Text
Exploring The Timeline
Checking Out The Library: Symbols And Instances
Drawing In Flash
Animating In Flash
Using Bitmaps And Other Media With Flash
Designing Interfaces And Interface Elements
Understanding Sound For Flash
Importing And Editing Sounds In Flash
Optimizing Flash Sound For Export
Understanding Actions And Event Handlers
Navigating Flash Timelines
Controlling Movie Clips
Sharing And Loading Assets
Planning Code Structures
Creating Subroutines And Manipulating Data
Understanding Movie Clips As Complex Objects
Sending Data In And Out Of Flash
Understanding Html And Text Field Functions In Flash
What Is Generator?
Revving Up Generator
Working With Third-party, Server-side Applications
Working With Raster Graphics
Working With Vector Graphics
Working With Audio Applications
Working With 3d Graphics
Working With Quicktime
Working With Realplayer
Creating Full-motion Video With Flash
Creating Cartoon Animation With Flash
Planning Flash Production With Flowcharting Software
Working With Authoring Applications
Publishing Flash Movies
Integrating Flash Content With Html
Using Players, Projectors, And Screensaver Utilities
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