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In Illustrator CS5 Web and Interactive Design, Mordy Golding shows how to create pixel-perfect graphics for use in web sites, video compositions, and mobile apps. This course covers a wide range of workflows, from creating online ad campaigns, web sites, icons, to taking art from Illustrator to Flash Professional. Sharing tips, tricks, and creative techniques along the way, Mordy provides insight and instruction for taking projects from initial concept straight through to production. Exercise files accompany the course.
One of the things that I find interesting about using Illustrator for web design is that, well, Illustrator existed long before the web did. In fact, if you think about it, Illustrator never really even thought about concepts of things like motion, for example. Yet there've always been features like blends, for example, that were even available before gradients were available inside of Illustrator. They were used to have one color blend into another. However, now that we understand the concept of exporting SWF files out of Illustrator, if you wanted to create some kind of motion, we can actually use a blend to simulate that and create motion when creating a SWF file.
So, let's see how we can do that. Now I have this file open right now. It's called animated_banner_motion. I'm actually going to turn off the top two layers of my document, because I just want to focus on the Backpack Cali one that's right here, because I want to build a file, and I want to create a blend, and we want that blend to turn into some kind of motion when I play back this banner. For example, maybe a nice effect instead of just having the banner rotate itself, maybe I want this special of the month to kind of like animate upwards into the banner. Now, one thing that I've also done differently in this file, specifically, is I've taken elements from the background and put it on its own layer.
So just, for example, if I turn off the Background layer here, you can see that all I see right now is just this monthly special for Backpack Cali. In fact, if I were building this in a month-by-month basis, I would simply just add a new layer with the specials for that particular month. So, for example, you can see here I have one layer for Backpack Cali, one layer for California Calm, one layer for Desert to Sea, but for now we're just going to work on the Backpack Cali one. I'm turning off the Background layer for now just so that we can get a better idea of exactly what settings we're applying here inside of Illustrator.
Now, I want this to kind of fade in from the bottom. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to take this piece of artwork right now, and I'm going to Option+Drag it down here right directly underneath. So, by Option+Dragging, or if you're on Windows that would be Alt+Dragging, I've now created a copy of that group. I've basically have taken all these elements, and I've grouped them together. In Illustrator, you have the ability to blend groups as well. What I'm also going to do is I want this to not only just move up, but I also want it to fade in a little bit. So I want to set the opacity of this group down to zero. So, I'm going to go over here to the Opacity setting inside of my Control panel, set it to zero, and press OK. Great! So now it's there, but I just can't see it, because it has zero opacity.
I'm now going to hold down the Shift key and select this piece of art as well. So now, I have two groups selected. They're just really copies of each other. One is set to zero opacity. Now I'm going to go to the Object menu, and I'll choose Blend > Make. Now that I've defined the Blend, I'm going to go back to the Object menu, choose Blend, and now I'll choose Blend Options. Now, by default, Illustrator uses something called Smooth Color for Spacing. We don't really care about smooth color here though, because we're dealing with distinct objects.
So I really want to specify a number of steps. So I'm going to choose Specified Steps, and maybe here I'll just do five steps, for example, and I'll click OK. So, what I've just done now is I've taken two groups and I've blended them together, and now what I need to do though is tell Illustrator that when I create a SWF, I want that blend to actually appear as an animation. Now, at the beginning of this chapter, we spoke about two possible ways to export a SWF file out of Illustrator. We can either use Save for Web & Devices, or we can go to the File menu and choose Export.
Well, as we saw, there was a large dialog box that had many different settings and the Export function. To create this type of motion, we're going to need to use Export function. We will not be able to achieve the look we're going for by going to Save for Web & Devices. So I'm going to choose File, and then choose Export. For the file Format, I'm going to choose Flash, or SWF. Next, I'm going to choose Export, and let's take a look now at the options that are available in this dialog box. Now first of all, I want this to actually become an animation.
So the first thing I need to do is choose how I want to export this file. The default setting for Illustrator is to take my entire Illustrator file and create one static SWF File, but I want to turn all of my Illustrator layers to Flash frames. Note, by the way, that there are other options here. You can choose to convert your layers to SWF Files, meaning you could create separate SWF files for each layer, or you can also convert all of your layers to SWF symbols. I'm going to choose though right here to convert my layers to SWF frames. That's going to create an animation. I also want to choose for some options over here, Clip to Artboard Size.
Now, when I set up this document, I created my artboard at the size that I need this banner to be, which is 468 x 60. In addition, you can see over here that I've taken a copy of that artwork, and I moved it off of artboard. So, this art is going to fade in onto what we call the stage inside of Flash. Now, I don't need to include any unused symbols; that just adds to file size here. But let's take a quick look at some of the other settings that are here. I can compress the file. That just makes it a smaller file, which I'm going to go ahead and turn that on. I can choose to export my text as outlines.
This actually will make my file size bigger. I'm going to leave it unchecked for now. I can also choose to ignore the kerning information for text. If I had some metadata inside of my file, by going to the File Info dialog box, I can choose to include that, but again, that makes the file size a little bit larger. And I could choose this option, Protect from Import, which will make it difficult for other people to open up that SWF, for example, maybe inside of Adobe Flash Professional. If I do so, I could choose to enter a password for my file. Let's go ahead and move to the Advanced panel, and we'll see some more settings available, especially around the area of motion and animation.
Now, if I do have images in my artwork, or some content is going to get rasterized, I can choose which image format I want Illustrator to use. A lossless format can save things basically as a GIF format. Lossy will actually use a JPEG format for that. I could choose a different quality level for that, if that's the case. I can also choose a resolution, but the truth is right now in my artwork at least. I don't have anything that's going to be rasterized, so I'm leaving all those settings alone. Now here's the frame rate. That's basically how fast the animation is going to play. For now, I'm going to set it to about 6 frames per second, and I want this to loop, meaning I want the animation to continuously play.
Now here's the setting that really makes the big difference here. Now, we've created a blend inside of Illustrator. I want Illustrator to actually go ahead now and animate those blends. When I do so, there are two ways that that blend can be animated. One is called in a build. In a build animation, it basically takes every single step of the blend that starts with the first step, and then it adds the second step, and then adds the third on top of it, adds the fourth. So I see all the steps at the end of my animation. But I don't really want that. I want it to appear as if this is moving up. So, in this case here, I'm going to choose In Sequence.
That means that I'm going to see the first step of the blend. Then Illustrator is going to hide the first step and only show the second step. Then it's going to hide the second step and only show the third. In this case, I'm only going to see only one step of my blend at a time, so it's going to appear as if it's moving across the screen. I can also choose what layer I want the animation to play. Remember, I have several layers here, so I can choose whether or not I want the layers to play bottom up, or I can choose to have them play top down. In this case, I only have one layer visible, which is the one that has the blend on it, and we're doing this just to get a better idea of exactly what the blend animation looks like.
Now, I'm going to choose Web Preview to see what this looks like in a web browser. So you can see that right now I've created this type of animation directly from the blend. However, you'll notice that it's moving down. Maybe I want it to actually move up. So, let's go back into Illustrator for a second. I'm going to cancel out of this. With the blend selected, I'm going to go to the Object menu, choose Blend, and then I'm going to choose this option, Reverse Front to Back. Basically, the stacking order that exists inside of the blend determines which direction this animates in. So, if I reverse front to back, now if I go back to the File menu, and I choose Export, once again, I'll choose Flash in the Format pop-up, choose Export here, unfortunately, one of the downsides to using this Export function is that there's no way to save the settings.
So, we'd have to go through this one more time. You want to choose Export as layers to SWF Frames. We want to clip to Artboard Size. Now, we'll jump over to Advanced. Let's change our frame rate to maybe let's say 8 frames per second this time, set it to Looping, Animate Blends, In Sequence, and now choose Web Preview. Now we can see that things slide up the way that we want it to. So, using Blends inside of Illustrator is a great way for us to define motion in a SWF animation. Now, we need to put this all together, and create one unified ad banner with all the motion that we want.
We'll start to do just that in the next movie.
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