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Mordy Golding demonstrates how to be more productive, efficient, and creative by taking advantage of Adobe Illustrator to create pixel-perfect web graphics and interactive Flash content. Illustrator CS4 for the Web investigates the pros and cons of pixel- and vector-based web graphics, demonstrates efficient workflows, and explores the creative options available in Illustrator. Mordy also covers design techniques, such as creating typography that works well on screen, adding reflections, and making Flash animations. He discusses new Illustrator CS4 features, including using multiple artboards, bringing art into Dreamweaver, and utilizing Flash Catalyst. Exercise files accompany the course.
When you are creating artwork that's going to be published using Flash, you will want to take advantage of the symbols feature inside of Illustrator. Now in reality in the world of Flash, symbols, at least what I always kind of feel, are the lifeblood of Flash. If you really want to add any kind of interactivity, or you want to be able to add scripting to be able to do something instead of Flash, you need to create a symbol first. So first let's understand exactly what a symbol is. A symbol is simply any kind of artwork that exists inside of your document. In the case here of Illustrator, it can be anything with the lone exception of a placed linked image.
Now once you create that symbol, you can reuse that piece of artwork many, many times inside of your document, but it doesn't add to your file size. All the copies of the symbol that you create are simply aliases of the original symbol that you have created. When we work with symbols, we refer to the first piece of artwork that we define as a symbol, and all other copies of that are referred to as instances of that symbol. Let's take a look at how we defined symbols inside of Illustrator, and it's important to note that when you create symbols inside of Illustrator, anytime down the road that you bring your artwork into Flash, those symbols are maintained. And again, this is important going back to some of the workflows that we have discussed.
If you are working with developer, by going ahead and creating and defining the symbols right now instead of Illustrator, there is less work for the developer to do later on in the workflow. And just as importantly, if you're the designer who is starting off inside of Illustrator and then going to Flash, by defining your symbols now inside of Illustrator, there's less for you to do when you get into Flash as well. In fact, when I am working on an artwork that I know is going to go into Flash, I try to add as many things as symbols as possible. So let's take a look at this example here. I have this banner that I have created. Well, it's basic elements that I plan on turning into an interactive banner. But for now I'd like to take each of the elements and turned them into symbols.
Let's start with this surfer guy right over here. I will go ahead and click on that piece of artwork. And then I come over here to the Symbols panel, and click on this button over here called New Symbol. In doing so a dialog box comes up and I have to give my symbol a name. I strongly suggest that you don't just call it New Symbol, and then New Symbol 1 and New Symbol 2, because that will be more difficult to reference them later in your workflow. I'll go ahead now and I call this one SurferDude. Now don't worry about these settings that are here, we'll get to you exactly what each of these things do, but for now I am just going to click OK. And I have defined my symbol. Illustrator also automatically converted this piece of artwork now into the first instance of that symbol. Any time I want to add more instances, I can simply take this symbol from the Symbols panel, and drag it out onto my artboard.
Let's create a few more symbols here. I'll take this logo right here Groundswell. Now remember, this is not one single piece of artwork, but this is a group of objects. Anything at all can be a symbol. Instead of using the icon inside of the Symbols panel, I am going to use the keyboard shortcut. The keyboard shortcut to define a symbol, not only in Illustrator but also in Flash, is simply to tap the F8 key. That brings up the same Symbols Options dialog box, and here I will type in a name Groundswell_Logo. Let me move over here to the left side, and I want to show you that I am going to create a nested symbol. That means when I have basically two symbols that are embedded within another symbol.
I'll start by clicking on this Surf logo right here. I am going to double-click over here, so that I am isolating just as one object, and I'll turn that into a symbol. Next, I'll select the text and the button around it, and turn that into a symbols as well. Now I'll double-click, and I'll select both of these symbol instances and finally I'll turn that into a symbol as well. The benefit here is that I have now created a single symbol that has two other symbols inside of it. If in my designs I sometimes want to have this logo appear on its own, but also sometimes together with a button, I could modify a single symbol and they'll update no matter where they are.
Finally, I'll create one more symbol here. I'll select these waves and I'll turn that into a symbol as well. So now I have created all the symbols that I want inside of my document. Now there is one other thing that I want to cover here with regards to symbols. As I mentioned before, symbols are the lifeblood of Flash. If you want to add any kind of interactivity inside of Flash, you need to create a symbol. Once I have a symbol, I can write an ActionScript code that tells that symbol to do something. But we also know that we can create multiple instances of a single symbol. For example, like before I came over here to the Symbols panel and I created now another instance of this surfer guy. Now both of these symbols have the exact same name. So if I wanted the ActionScript code to tell one of these particular surfers to kind of move around, how would I do that? How would I be able to reference just one of those symbols using code? So in Flash, you have the ability not only to create a symbol and name that symbol, you also have the ability to name each individual instance. The way that I would like to refer to it is that when you create a symbol and you give that symbol a name, it's like giving that piece of artwork a last name.
For example, everyone in my family has the same last name, but if I wanted one of my kids to actually go ahead and do something, and I just yelled that out our last name, probably none of the kids will listen at all, but there will be no ways for me to reference exactly one of them. That's why we give our children first names. In that case, I can go ahead and call their first name and tell one of them to do something specifically. So think of an instance as a person's first name. In the past, the only way to add instance names was directly inside of the Flash application, but what's great now about the integration that exist between Illustrator and Flash, I can add those instance names right here inside of Illustrator. Take a look over here at my Control panel. It says here, Instance Name, which is currently set to nothing.
So with that particular symbol selected, I'll call this one dude_01 and then I'll click on this one over here and I'll refer to the one over here as dude_02. Now when I bring this piece of artwork into Flash, I'll be able to use ActionScript code to reference each of those two different symbol instances directly. The key concept here is that the more work that you do upfront here in your design inside of Illustrator, the less work you will have to do when you get into Flash.
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