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In Fireworks CS5 Essential Training, author Jim Babbage gives a detailed overview of Fireworks CS5, Adobe's software for creating and optimizing web graphics and interactive prototypes. This course includes a detailed tour of the interface, the enhanced PNG format, and the image editing toolset in Fireworks. Critical concepts, such as prototyping for HTML applications and working with symbols, the heart of an efficient workflow in Fireworks, are covered in detail. Exercise files are included with this course.
Layers are probably one of the most important features, if not 'the' most important feature of any modern imaging application that's out there. And Fireworks is no slouch in this area. I currently have opened my mockup_site_working.png file. You can find it in the Chapter_01 folder. I've got my index page selected in the Pages panel. You'll notice I still have the same setup for my panels as I did from the previous lesson. I've got my pages separated out from my layers. It makes it a lot easier for me to see what's going on, especially when the design starts becoming more complex.
Now down in the Layers panel, take a look here and see what we've got. We have a Web layer, a regular layer, and a Master Page layer. Now any Fireworks document, even if it's a brand-new file you've just created, is going to have, at the very least, a Web layer and a content layer. Now the Web layer is where Web objects are stored, things like Slices, where you optimize individual graphics for a more suitable formats for the Web, or things like hotspots that you might use for creating an image map.
The Web layer cannot be deleted from the Fireworks file. You don't have to use it, but it's always going to be there when you open up a document in Fireworks. Now the content layer is where you store all your actual visual elements, your vectors, your bitmaps, your text, all those different things that are in there. And if I go over to the left-hand side of this layer, you'll see that little expander triangle. I am going to click on that, and that's going to expand out that one main content layer to show that I have actually a lot of other sublayers inside of this design.
I have got one called header, another one called content region, another one called footer, and another one called backgrounds. And inside of most, if not all, of these layers is going to be additional content. So let's go to the header layer here, expand that down, and I am just going to play around with my panels here a bit, so I can see my Layers panel a little bit better now. So I've expanded my layer, which showed me my main sublayers. I expanded the header sublayer, which shows me it's got additional sublayers inside of it.
So there's quite a bit of capability here for structuring your document, and this comes in really handy for a couple reasons. At the very least, it means that you have to pass the design off to somebody else who needs to work on the file. It'll be easier for them to sort of get oriented much quicker. Now if you are a lone wolf designer and you do all the work yourself, it's still a helpful thing to get used to structuring your files, because you may not come back to a design for a few weeks, depending on the project. And if you have everything all lumped into one layer, it's a little harder to find stuff.
So this just makes it easier for you to get up to speed as well. Inside of these additional sublayers, let's go to the logo, for example. I'll expand that down, and you'll see I've got some additional elements in here. I've got some different versions of the logo too. So I've got logo_comp1. It shows me a slightly different logo design. I've got logo_comp, again, shows me a slightly different design. And I actually have a third or fourth one down here at the bottom, which if I hide my final, shows me a slightly different version as well.
So not only can I store objects inside these layers, I can actually turn them on and turn off, make them visible or invisible. So basically it gives me the ability have multiple variations of a design inside of one sublayer, and I can just pick whichever one I want to happen to go with. I am going to collapse that logo layer back down again, and I am going to collapse the header layer down a bit as well, so we can see things a little bit easier. Now just to touch on the last layer at the bottom of this design here, the Master Page layer. We saw in the previous lesson how you can create a master page to share common elements throughout your entire design.
This is where that Master page resides, usually at the bottom of your Layers panel. Now you can't edit the Master Page layer from the individual pages. Remember, we're on the index page right now, so you'll see Master Page layer there, and I can certainly click it, but I can't do anything with it. I can't unlock it. All I can do is hide it. If I need to edit the graphics that are part of that Master Page layer, I'll need go back up to my Pages panel and choose the Master Page before I can do any editing. For the time being though, I am going to leave it the way it is.
Now the lock that you see in the Master Page layer is put there intentionally so you don't edit the file from the wrong location. But locking layers and sublayers is something that you can do with any layer inside of Fireworks. I can go into my content region. I have got quite a few different things going on here as well. I have tour spotlight, monthly specials and trivia, and if I just move down a little bit lower here, there is my Monthly Specials, right here. So I could, if I want to make sure that doesn't get edited by anybody else accidentally, or even by me selecting things accidentally, I can lock that monthly specials area, so that even if I go into that particular part of the design on the canvas, I can't select anything that's inside that particular layer.
And if I expand that down for a minute, you'll see that by locking the monthly specials layer, all the objects within inside the monthly specials are also locked. Now much like pages, I can rename layers. So for example, my main containing layer for all of my artwork is just called layer. So it's kind of generic. So I'm going to go ahead and double- click on layer, and just like I did to the pages, I can rename this. I am going to call this Main Design.
And naming your pages, naming your layers, and even naming the objects within layers is really, again, a helpful step to keep you organized and to make it easier for you to find things later on down the road. You can create layers in a similar way that you created pages. Inside the Layers panel, at the very bottom, you'll see some options down here. There is a folder with a Plus sign, a folder with a little indent arrow, and then some other options for masking and for adding an empty bitmap image, and obviously deleting a selected object. So I can go ahead and create a brand- new layer just by clicking on the New or Duplicate layer icon. That will add a new layer above wherever my last selection was.
So there is my new empty layer 1. Now it's currently got nothing in it. Sublayers can be added in much the same manner. Once I've got a layer created, I can select that layer, and I can choose New Sub layer, and that'll drop in a new sublayer right inside the originally selected layer. Now if I collapse down my original layer, you can see that the sublayer is basically hidden, it's gone from view. I'll expand this at the layer, and you can see the sublayer is visible there now. I am just going to collapse that down, and I don't really need this layer, so I am just going to go ahead and keep it selected and press Delete and remove it from the design.
You can also change stacking order of content within a layer, or actually move content from one layer to another. And let's take a look at this process here. I'm going to open up my content region. I have got those three categories: tour spotlight, monthly specials and trivia. And if I'm ever wondering what's inside of these specific layers, I can just click on the actual layer. You'll notice on the canvas everything in that layer gets selected. So it's a real quick way to find out what's in the layer.
Same thing if I clicked on monthly specials, you'll see it show up everything selected there, and trivia, which my little trivia box down below. So let's open up the tour spotlight layer, and let's take a look. I've got a cycle logo in there. If I click on that particular object, I can see it right inside my design. This actually brings up a good point. One of the differences between Fireworks and Photoshop, for example, is Photoshop is strictly a layer-based application, and everything you do ends up in its own layer.
Fireworks has layers and sublayers as we've seen, but you can also put objects withinside of the layers. So you get that extra level of organization if you will. Now there is my cycle logo selected, and you'll see it highlighted on the canvas. Now you'll notice it's not at the top of the layer stack, so if I was to go and grab my logo and drag it, reposition it, you'll notice that is actually underneath a lot of the text. Now not a big deal, because it's sitting out there in the open, but if I was to, for example, add more text or maybe enlarge the size of my heading, I might run into some problems with things overlapping.
So one of the things I might like to do is keep this particular object at the very top of the layer stack, pretty simple thing to do, just locate it inside the actual layer, click on it and drag it. And once you let go the mouse, it'll move it up to the top of the layer stack, or to wherever you've positioned it. Now I am going to undo that, show you that one more time. Notice that as I'm dragging this, you'll see a little black highlight bar. That gives you an indication of where that object is going to be placed. So at the very top of my tour spotlight sublayer, I'll let go the mouse, and it gets dropped in.
Now occasionally, when you try to drop something in, it doesn't go exactly where you want. You may have to, you know, drag it again, or maybe move the upper object down below. But you can move things around relatively easily there, and not only can I change the stacking order of objects with inside the layer, I can also change the stacking order of layers. So if I grab my monthly specials, my entire layer there, I can literally grab that and drag it so that it's positioned above my tour spotlight. Now it's not going have, again, a big impact here visually, because these elements don't overlap each other.
The tour spotlight and the monthly specials are very separate from each other, but I can change the order of them if I want to. Now as well as being able to move these things around, I can also change the Opacity of layers or objects within layers for that matter. So for example, again, I am going to refer to my monthly specials here. I'm going to expand that monthly specials sublayer, and you'll notice everything is still currently selected. I don't want to change everything, so I am just going go ahead and click on the canvas away from my sublayer. And then I'm going to select my special box. That's the little beige box behind my monthly specials. And with that selected I can go ahead and change the Opacity from the standard 100%, I can reduce it down to about 80, and you'll see I'll now get that semitransparent look.
So I can control object level opacity like that. I could, if I really wanted to, also control the entire layer like that. So I can grab my entire monthly specials, as I mentioned earlier, probably not the best thing you want to do here. But you can select the entire layer and reduce the opacity of everything in the layer. So I'll just drag that down to about 60%, so you can see the difference. You can see everything is fading into the background.
And the last thing I wanted to show you is how to move objects between the layers. Now you could select an object and copy it and then paste it into a different layer just by selecting that New layer. But there's a nice, quick and easy way to do this inside of the Layers panel. I have always found it really, really helpful. So I am going to go ahead to my tour spotlight area here. That's basically grabbed all those elements. And while I don't necessarily need to move anything in this specific location, I'll just show you the process of moving one object from one layer to another.
So again, I am going to click away from everything on the canvas. I am going to reselect my photo here, and what I'd like to do with this is just move it into a different location inside my layers. So what I can do is select it, and then you'll notice that in the Layers panel where it says tour spotlight, you'll see little radio button that's active. And what that radio button tells me is that something inside of this layer or sublayer is currently selected. And a really easy way to move something from one layer to another is just to grab that radio button and drag it.
So I can drag it all the way up to the original content region, for example, and let go the mouse. And that moves that object from one physical layer into another. So it's still part of the design, and it's still showing up basically where it needs to show up, because it's sort of at the top of the food chain of that particular layer. But it is in a different location, and I can just as easily move it back. I'll grab that radio button again, and I'll drag it down to tour spotlight. And it's now showing up inside of my tour spotlight.
Now it does get dropped into the very top of the layers stack, so if it was overlapping something, I'd need to reposition it. I am just going to move it down a little bit, put it down below the Explorer's Podcast. There we go. So I've been able to not just move it from one layer to another, but then reposition it while I am inside of that specific layer. So you can see layers are an integral part of the design process in Fireworks. Get comfortable with this panel. You'll be using it a lot as you build your designs.
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