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Understanding symbols: The lifeblood of Flash

From: Illustrator CS5 for Web and Interactive Design

Video: Understanding symbols: The lifeblood of Flash

Illustrator and Flash Professional enjoy a really wonderful relationship. You actually have the ability to take artwork from Illustrator and bring it directly into Flash Professional, and you can do so while maintaining the integrity of your file and really keep a lot of information intact. One of those things are probably one of the most important aspect of any Flash project, which is working with symbols. In fact, I often like to refer to symbols as the lifeblood of Flash. There is really little you can do inside of Flash Professional without the use of symbols, and if you start defining your symbols and thinking about how you are going to use your artwork when you are inside of Illustrator, things will be that much easier for you when you get to Flash.

Understanding symbols: The lifeblood of Flash

Illustrator and Flash Professional enjoy a really wonderful relationship. You actually have the ability to take artwork from Illustrator and bring it directly into Flash Professional, and you can do so while maintaining the integrity of your file and really keep a lot of information intact. One of those things are probably one of the most important aspect of any Flash project, which is working with symbols. In fact, I often like to refer to symbols as the lifeblood of Flash. There is really little you can do inside of Flash Professional without the use of symbols, and if you start defining your symbols and thinking about how you are going to use your artwork when you are inside of Illustrator, things will be that much easier for you when you get to Flash.

So let's take a few moments here to actually take a look at symbols inside of Illustrator, and how we can actually set some settings in place that we might use later on inside of Flash Professional. Now inside of this file here called monthly_specials, I already have more artwork that's has already been converted to symbols. For example, the logo here is a symbol, and each of these logos are also converted to symbols. I am going to open up my symbols panel here, so we can take a look at these, and of course, one of the main benefits of working with symbols is that when you have artwork that is used many times in a file, the file size is reduced.

Now in this example here, I only have one instance of each of these symbols on the page, but we refer to artwork that appears in the Symbols panel here as the symbol, meaning the original piece of art is a symbol. If you are familiar with Flash Professional, you might think of this as a Library. But on the artboard, we refer to these as instances of that symbol. So, for example, if I take this Backpack Cal and I just kind of Option+Drag or Alt+Drag to create some copies of this, each of these are now instances of that original symbol. Now when you are writing ActionScript code inside of Flash Professional, not only do you need to, of course, assign a name to a symbol, but you also need to create a name for each of the instances that are being used on the stage, or on the artboard.

After all, if you wanted to create some kind of code where this one acts differently than some of these, if they are all the same symbol, you can't just simply refer to them by their symbol name. In fact, I like to call the name of a symbol the last name, the same way that we all have family names, for example, but we also have first names, because they are several people in a family. So if you want to refer to an individual in the family, you call them by their first name. So we call a first name of a symbol an instance name. One of the really nice things about Illustrator is that you have the ability to actually assign an instance name right here inside of your layout.

So, for example, if I call this one backpack_1, and I click this one over here, and I set this one to have backpack_2, I now have two symbols, two instances, and I have assigned unique instance names to each of those instances. As we will see, one of the great things about working with Illustrator and Flash Professional is that when this artwork gets put into Flash Professional, those instance names remain intact. Now there are actually a variety of different types of symbols that you can create and use inside of Flash Professional. So let's actually create a symbol here inside of Illustrator, and see how we can apply some of those settings as well.

I am going to click on this piece of art right over here, and if I wanted to define this as a symbol, I can use the same keyboard shortcut that exists inside of Flash Professional, simply by typing the F8 key on my keyboard. That brings up the Symbol Options dialog box, where I can assign a name for this - maybe I will call this one Tag, for example, and I can choose between a movie clip and a graphic type of a symbol. Now inside of Flash Professional, I would say that 99 times out of every 100 times that you are creating a symbol, you are probably going to be using the movie clip symbol. In reality, if I am inside of Illustrator, choosing Graphic or Movie Clip has no effect whatsoever here.

This setting only applies when this art eventually makes its way into Flash Professional. The main difference between a graphic symbol and a movie clip symbol is that movie clip symbols contain their own timelines inside them. So I am going to leave this set right now to Movie Clip, and I also have the ability to set what we call the registration. This is the main area, or the part that all scaling attributes, or other type of attributes apply to, kind of as an origin point of that symbol. Most developers who I work with always like to have the origin point set to the upper left-hand corner, and not to the center.

That just makes it easy to position these symbols mathematically and through code. Now there are two other options here in this dialog box. One is called Enable Guides for 9-Slice Scaling, and we are going to talk about that in detail in the next movie, and the Align to Pixel Grid setting is something that we spoke about earlier on in this title, and this setting actually controls the anti-aliasing to make sure that wherever a symbol instance is applied throughout your document, that all of the art within that symbol snaps to the pixel grid. I will click OK to create that symbol, and basically those are the steps you need to take to create symbols inside of Illustrator and to set them up correctly with instance names, so that when you bring them into Flash Professional, it will be that much easier to work with.

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This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS5 for Web and Interactive Design
Illustrator CS5 for Web and Interactive Design

74 video lessons · 24122 viewers

Mordy Golding
Author

 
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  1. 6m 56s
    1. Welcome
      1m 33s
    2. Choosing Illustrator for web and interactive design
      2m 54s
    3. Illustrator and the web design workflow
      2m 7s
    4. Using the exercise files
      22s
  2. 40m 9s
    1. Pixel dimension vs. resolution
      4m 14s
    2. Pixel Preview mode and anti-aliasing
      5m 39s
    3. Taking charge of anti-aliasing
      5m 27s
    4. Choosing the right color management settings
      7m 25s
    5. Setting up important preferences
      6m 22s
    6. Setting up a workspace optimized for web design
      11m 2s
  3. 54m 5s
    1. Using the Web document profile
      3m 39s
    2. Creating custom document profiles
      9m 38s
    3. Using Illustrator's free web templates
      2m 33s
    4. Creating a sitemap or wireframe
      2m 50s
    5. Setting up an entire web site
      9m 33s
    6. Setting up a grid
      10m 37s
    7. Setting up an online ad campaign
      8m 13s
    8. Setting up icons for iOS
      2m 24s
    9. Setting up mobile content with Adobe Device Central
      4m 38s
  4. 32m 22s
    1. Understanding web-safe colors
      11m 50s
    2. Limiting the Color Guide to web-safe colors
      4m 53s
    3. Using Recolor Art to convert art to web-safe colors
      4m 54s
    4. Getting color inspiration from Adobe Kuler
      6m 48s
    5. Using Recolor Artwork to modify colors across a site
      3m 57s
  5. 56m 54s
    1. Using the Save for Web & Devices feature
      6m 44s
    2. Understanding the GIF file format and its settings
      10m 20s
    3. Understanding the JPEG file format and its settings
      7m 39s
    4. Understanding the PNG file format and its settings
      3m 21s
    5. Understanding the WBMP file format and its settings
      1m 18s
    6. Understanding the SWF file format and its settings
      4m 13s
    7. Understanding the SVG file format and its settings
      3m 41s
    8. Adjusting the dimensions of a graphic
      4m 46s
    9. Optimizing files to a specific file size
      4m 5s
    10. Modifying Save for Web & Devices output settings
      6m 51s
    11. Previewing content in Adobe Device Central
      3m 56s
  6. 56m 6s
    1. Setting point type in Illustrator
      4m 11s
    2. Setting area type in Illustrator
      5m 20s
    3. Formatting text quickly with paragraph styles
      14m 39s
    4. Overriding formatting with character styles
      3m 2s
    5. Controlling text anti-aliasing
      4m 50s
    6. Simulating the CSS box model
      11m 14s
    7. Adding cool reflections to text and graphics
      8m 26s
    8. Applying settings quickly with Graphic Styles
      4m 24s
  7. 35m 56s
    1. Understanding the concept of slicing
      3m 22s
    2. Creating slices manually
      4m 26s
    3. Creating slices from guides
      2m 45s
    4. Creating slices from objects
      7m 33s
    5. Understanding the different slice types
      4m 20s
    6. Applying settings to slices
      9m 20s
    7. Creating hotspots with image maps
      4m 10s
  8. 23m 35s
    1. Exporting static SWF files from Illustrator
      3m 35s
    2. Animated SWF: Converting Illustrator layers to SWF frames
      4m 3s
    3. Animated SWF: Using blends to define motion
      8m 35s
    4. Animated SWF: Adding static artwork to an animation
      3m 24s
    5. Animated SWF: Controlling time within an animation
      3m 58s
  9. 17m 13s
    1. Preserving slices and structure with PSD export
      6m 10s
    2. Working with Photoshop Smart Objects
      4m 35s
    3. Sharing color swatches between Illustrator and Photoshop
      2m 52s
    4. Generating an animated GIF file with Photoshop
      3m 36s
  10. 7m 28s
    1. Exporting HTML from Illustrator for use in Dreamweaver
      3m 31s
    2. Exporting CSS and DIVs from an Illustrator layout
      3m 57s
  11. 12m 37s
    1. Moving art between Illustrator and Fireworks
      6m 25s
    2. Using dynamic shapes from Fireworks
      3m 48s
    3. Sharing color swatches between Illustrator and Fireworks
      2m 24s
  12. 16m 7s
    1. Building files for use in Flash Catalyst
      4m 28s
    2. Creating a new Flash Catalyst project from an Illustrator file
      3m 40s
    3. Copying and pasting artwork between Illustrator and Flash Catalyst
      2m 4s
    4. Roundtrip editing between Illustrator and Flash Catalyst
      3m 36s
    5. Creating Flex skins for use in Flash Builder
      2m 19s
  13. 19m 48s
    1. Understanding symbols: The lifeblood of Flash
      4m 58s
    2. Symbols: Understanding 9-slice scaling
      4m 18s
    3. Setting text that will be used in Flash Professional
      3m 5s
    4. Moving artwork between Illustrator and Flash Professional
      7m 27s
  14. 1m 6s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 6s

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