Using Adobe Dimensions to Create 3D Objects Flash

Many Flashers create 3D designs and animations for Flash movies with Adobe Dimensions 3.0. That’s because Dimensions offers an intuitive interface for elementary 3D design. If you’ve never used a 3D program before, then Adobe Dimensions is a great place to start. The interface has familiar tools found in other 2D drawing programs. These include Pen, Text, and Object Tools. Although Dimensions’ support of animation isn’t as advanced as that of other applications (such as 3D Studio MAX or even Macromedia Extreme 3D Version 2) you can use it to create great-looking 3D animations to use in Flash while maintaining small file sizes! This section shows you how to turn an existing 2D design into a simple yet effective 3D sequence that can be imported into Flash.

How to extrude vector artwork
In Dimensions 3.0, you can create 3D artwork from scratch using the various drawing tools in the toolbox. You can also use Dimensions to generate dimensional artwork from any vector file, such as .EPS or .AI files. In this section, we describe how to extrude an imported Illustrator file.

  • Make sure that you have installed Dimensions 3.0 on your Windows or Macintosh computer. Open the application.
  • In the Render Mode drop-down menu of the Untitled-1 document window, choose PostScript.
  • Open the Extrude window by choosing Operations➪Extrude or Command➪ Ctrl+E. This command or shortcut can hide the Extrude window as well.
  • In the lower-left corner of the Extrude window, click the New Base button.
  • With the Extrude base window active, import an .EPS file that you want to turn into animated 3D artwork for Flash. To do this, choose File➪Import (Command+Option+I or Ctrl+Alt+I), and select a vector file. (You can use the crossHairs.eps file in the ch31 folder on the Flash 5 Bible CD-ROM.)

In the Extrude window, enter a value in the Depth text field. By default, all values in Dimensions are in points. After you enter a value, click the Apply button in the lower right-hand corner of the Extrude window . A value of 75 points was used for the crosshairs sample file.

Using the Extrude window, you can convert a two-dimensional vector file to a three-dimensional object.

Using the Extrude window, you can convert a two-dimensional vector file to a three-dimensional object.

With the object selected in the document window, open the Camera window (Window➪Show Camera), which controls the view angle of the 3D window. Enter 75 for the Lens value, and 0 for Lon, Lat, and Roll. Open the Move window (Operations➪Transform➪Move). Choose Absolute for the Coordinates property, and enter 0 for X, Y, and Z values. Click Apply. If you’re using the crosshair sample file, your object should resemble below.

After applying a new Camera view and object coordinates, the crosshairs object has a much more dynamic look.

After applying a new Camera view and object coordinates, the crosshairs object has a much more dynamic look

The next step is to generate a series of still images from Dimensions to use in Flash. (The process is similar to using the Auto-Distort command in the Paint window of Macromedia Director.) To do this, we use Dimensions to record the position and scale of the object as it is rotated and moved in the 3D window. A start point and an end point are specified. Then Dimensions creates the in-between keyframes for the sequence. With the 3D object selected and in a starting position, choose Operations➪ Generate Sequence. The alert box shown below appears.

After you select the Generate Sequence command, move, scale, or rotate the 3D object to a new position or size. The Operations menu item remains highlighted to remind you that you are generating a sequence.

After you select the Generate Sequence command, move, scale, or rotate the 3D object to a new position or size. The Operations menu item remains highlighted to remind you that you are generating a sequence

Now, move and rotate the object to the final position of the animation. Note that you won’t be able to preview the animated sequence. So, if you want to be precise, use any of the Operations➪Transform windows to specify the end position. To create a rotating crosshair, open the Rotate window (Operations➪Transform➪ Rotate) and enter 180 for the Y axis. Click Apply. Choose Operations➪End Sequence to stop the recording process. The Sequence dialog automatically opens, and you can specify the number of frames (in the sequence), the file type, and the filename prefix.

Specify the image output settings in the Sequence dialog.

Specify the image output settings in the Sequence dialog.

To keep the final Flash file size as small as possible (for optimal transmission over the Web), try to limit the number of frames to as few as possible. Depending on the range of motion and scaling, you may be able to use as few as five or six frames. For the 180-degree crosshair rotation, a series of 12 frames was generated by Dimensions in the Adobe Illustrator (.AI) format, which Flash can import.

Most 3D applications have a filename prefix property that enables you to specify the name that precedes the numbers in the sequence. For example, if you use crosshair as the filename prefix, then the first frame’s filename is crosshair0000. You can insert spaces or underscores (for example, “crosshair “ or “crosshair_”) to separate the number from the prefix.

Bringing a sequence into Flash
With a Flash movie (.FLA) open, create a new layer and import the Dimensions sequence.



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