The Stroke and Fill Panels Flash

Users of prior versions of Flash, when beginning to use the Drawing and Painting Tools, might well inquire about the disappearance of the controls for Line Thickness and Line Style, as well as the Fill Color control. But that’s because these controls now reside in the Stroke and the Fill Panels, where they are now referred to as the Stroke Height, Stroke Style, and Fill Style controls. These panels, and the controls they contain, are consistently available regardless of which tool is being used. Panels are accessed from the Window menu, by choosing Window⇒Panels and then choosing the individual panel from the submenu.

Stroke Color
To select a color for a stroke that you are about to draw, click the Stroke Color button of the Stroke Panel to invoke the Swatches pop-up and then select a color. To change the color of a stroke that’s already drawn, first select the item with the Arrow Tool, click the Stroke Color button of the Stroke Panel, and then select a new color from the Swatches pop-up.

The Stroke Panel and Stroke Style drop-down

The Stroke Panel and Stroke Style drop-down

Stroke Height
In Flash 5, for all tools that draw or display a line or outline, the thickness of the line or stroke is controlled by either dragging the Stroke Height slider or by entering a value in the Stroke Height numeric entry box. When dragging the slider, the numeric entry box updates and displays a height readout analogous to the current position of the slider. This also functions as a precise numeric entry field. Simply enter a value to create a stroke with a specific height, or thickness. Permissible values range from 0 to 10, with fractions expressed in decimals.

Stroke Style
The Stroke Style drop-down offers seven stroke, or line, styles: Hairline, Solid, Dashed, Dotted, Ragged, Stippled, and Hatched.

Using the custom stroke styles
Click the Stroke Panel options (the triangular button at the upper right of the Stroke Panel) and then choose Custom (the only option) to access the Line Style dialog. The Line Style dialog, which remains unchanged from Flash 4, is used to generate custom line styles by selecting from a range of properties for each preset line. Basic properties include Stroke Weight and Sharp Corners. Depending on the preset line style, additional properties are available for each style.

To closely examine a custom line before you begin drawing with it, click the Zoom 4 × check box beneath the preview area of the Line Style dialog. Note the Sharp Corners check box, which toggles this Line Style feature on and off. The Sharp Corners feature ensures that the end of a line component (such as a dash), rather than a space, extends to each corner, so that the corners appears sharp.

Hairline line style
If you need a line that always appears one pixel wide, and does not scale subject to zoom, choose Hairline from the Stroke Style drop-down.

Solid Line Style
The Solid Line Style draws a solid, unbroken line. The customization variables for the Solid Line Style are limited to Thickness and Sharp Corners. These two variables are always available in the Line Style dialog, regardless of which Line Style is being customized.

Dashed Line Style
The Dashed Line Style draws a solid line with regularly spaced gaps. Customization variables that appear in the Line Style dialog for the Dashed Line Style are Line Thickness, Sharp Corners, Dash Length, and Gap Length. Both Dash Length and Gap Length are precisely adjustable by changing the numeric entries in their respective fields.

Dotted Line Style
The Dotted Line Style draws a dotted line with evenly spaced gaps. At first glance, the Dotted Line Style appears to have only one variable Dot Spacing. Change the numeric entry in this field to control the quality of the custom dashed line. But don’t overlook the Thickness drop down, which offers a range of settings for Dot Thickness.

Ragged Line Style
The Ragged Line Style draws a ragged line with various gaps between the dots. The quality of both the raggedness and the gaps are adjustable. The Ragged Line Style has three parameters unique to ragged lines: Pattern, Wave Height, and Wave Length. Each has a drop-down menu with multiple variables that, in combination, afford myriad possibilities.

Stippled Line Style
The Stippled Line Style draws a stippled line that goes a long way toward mimicking an artist’s hand-stippling technique. The qualities of stippling are adjustable with three variables unique to the nature of stippled lines: Dot Size, Dot Variation, and Density. Each variable has a drop-down with multiple settings that can be combined to generate a staggering array of line effects.

Hatched Line Style
The Hatched Line Style draws a hatched line of amazing complexity that can be used to accurately mimic an artist’s hand-drawn hatched-line technique. As shown in Figure below, the numerous hatching qualities are highly adjustable, making this perhaps the most complex of all the Flash drawing tools. The Line Style dialog has six parameters unique to hatched lines: Thickness (hatch-specific), Space, Jiggle, Rotate, Curve, and Length.

The Hatched Line Style wins the prize for the most variables. With these six drop-down lists, a plethora of unique line effects can be hatched.

Hatched Line Style wins the prize for the most variables

Applying and changing fills with the Fill Panel
The Oval, Rectangle, Brush, and Paint Bucket Tools all rely on the Fill Panel to set or customize the type and color of fill applied to a new shape that is about to be drawn, or to change the color of a selected shape (or shapes).

The Fill Panel and the Fill Style drop-down, which offers five kinds of fills: None, Solid, Linear Gradient, Radial Gradient, and Bitmap.

Fill Panel and the Fill Style drop-down

The Fill Style can be changed as follows: Choose a Fill Style from the drop-down of the Fill Panel. Then click the Fill Color button on the Toolbox to invoke the Swatches pop-up. If you’ve chosen a Solid Fill Style, then select a color for your fill. If you’ve chosen either gradient, clicking the Fill Color button causes a row of gradient color chips to appear at the bottom of the Swatches pop-up. Choose a gradient for your fill.

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