Static Masks Flash

In the real world, a mask is used to selectively obscure items beneath it. In Flash, a Mask layer is used to selectively obscure items on the specific layers beneath it.

To create a mask effect, a Mask layer is used in conjunction with a Masked layer, or multiple Masked layers. When a mask is enabled, everything on the Masked layer is hidden except what’s beneath filled areas of the Mask that it’s linked to. Almost any content, (excluding lines) may be used to create a mask. Masks may be animated or static. The only limitation is that motion paths cannot be used to animate a mask, nor can layers within buttons be masked.

Masking with a graphic
Here’s how to create the simplest form of mask:

  1. To begin with, the content that will be visible through the mask should be in place on its own layer, with visibility turned on. This is called the Masked layer.
  2. Next, create a new layer above the Masked layer.
  3. Then, create the aperture through which the contents of the Masked layer will be viewed. This aperture can be any filled item, text, or placed instance of a symbol. The only constraint is that the aperture must be a filled item. (Of course, lines can be used as masks if they are first converted to fills with the Modify➪Shapes➪Convert Lines to Fills command.) This layer is called the Mask layer.
  4. Now, situate your Mask over the contents of the Masked layer so that it covers the area that you will want to be visible through the mask.
  5. Finally, right-click/Ctrl+Click the layer bar of the Mask layer to invoke the contextual menu, and then choose Mask from the menu.
  6. The Masked layer will become subordinated to the Mask layer and both layers will become locked. The contents of the Masked layer are now visible only through the filled portion(s) of the Mask layer .
  7. A simple mask

    Masking with a graphic

  8. To reposition the Mask layer, unlock it .
  9. To reactivate masking, lock the Mask layer (and confirm that the Masked layer is locked, too).

Masking with a group
A group can also be used as a mask, as long as it consists of filled shapes and as long as the mask doesn’t also include simple ungrouped shapes: If a mask is composed of multiple items, using a group usually facilitates positioning the mask, as shown below.

Who is that masked man?

Who is that masked man?

Masking with a symbol
Working with symbols is working smart because doing so can help to reduce file size. Because symbols comprised of filled items can be used as masks, there’s no reason not to use a symbol from your Library to make a mask. Let’s return to our moon example from and see what we might be able to do with our primitive shapes.

Figure below shows the original shapes that we used to create a moon shape. The only difference here is that the shape that was used to cut out the bulk of the moon (the gray shape cutter), leaving only a sliver of moon, is now on its own separate layer and the layers are set up as a Mask layer and a Masked layer.

Using a circular moon shape for both a Mask layer and a Masked layer

Using a circular moon shape for both a Mask layer and a Masked layer

Unfortunately, when we enable masking (by locking both layers), we don’t get a sliver of moon. Instead, as seen in Figure below, we get a silly lemon shape! What happened? Well, if you think about it, you’ll notice that the upper shape reveals the content beneath it. So, as you can see, masking involves a logic that’s the opposite of the cookie-cutter interaction that we used to create shapes earlier.

Masking text
Not only can text be masked, it can also be used to mask. To mask text, simply set up your layers as described in the previous section, with the text to be masked on the Masked layer, and the filled item that you’ll use for your aperture on the Mask layer, as shown below.

The upper circle reveals only the part of the lower circle that it covers.

The upper circle reveals only the part of the lower circle that it covers.

Masking text

Masking text

To use text as a mask, the layers should be set up as described previously. In this situation, the text (which goes on the Mask layer) will look as though it were filled by whatever is place on the Masked layer. For this to be effective, a larger point size and fuller, bold letterforms are advised, as shown below.

Using text as a mask

Using text as a mask



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