Drawing Images in Flash
The two primary tools for drawing straight lines in Flash 5 are the Line tool and the Pencil tool.
Tool Strokes: Tool strokes are lines made with the Line and Pencil tool strokes.
To use the Pencil tool, select it by clicking its icon in the toolbox or by pressing Y. A range of options are available when you use the Pencil tool. The first is Stroke Color.
To change stroke colors, click on the small arrow in the bottom-right corner of the Stroke Color option box to open the palette. Figure 3.1 shows the Stroke Color option box. Bring the cursor over the color you want, and release. When you do this, the cursor changes to a dropper icon. Note that when you release, the box in the option box changes colors. This method is used to change stroke and fill colors with other tools, not just the Pencil tool.
Figure 3.1 The Stroke Color option box.
When the Pencil tool is selected, a box appears in the Options panel at the bottom of the toolbox. When you hover your mouse over this box, you will see that it is labeled Pencil Mode. Click the arrow in the option box to display the Pencil options. See Figure 3.2 for an image of the options available with the Pencil tool selected.
Figure 3.2 Pencil Tool options.
The Straighten option has a somewhat misleading name. It does change lines into straight lines, and is a valuable option for drawing certain shapes. It also curves jagged curves into smooth shapes. The Smooth option appears to work in similar fashion, but it actually removes small bumps and imperfections from lines. This can be helpful in the final stages of movie production. The Ink option is the closest to freeform drawing. Even here, however, Flash 5 provides antialiasing to the lines, which tends to smooth out the jagged edges of a line.
Antialiasing: Antialiasing is the smoothing of transitions. It refers to the elimination of jagged edges that can mar the borders of images.
Stroke options can be further explored by opening Window, Panels, Stroke. The Stroke option box, shown in Figure 3.3, enables the user to select the stroke style, color, and height, and to see a preview of the selections. Click the arrow in the Stroke Style box to display the style selection. Click the arrow in Stroke Height to display a slider that you click and move up or down to change line thickness.
Figure 3.3 The Stroke option box. Stroke style is changed in the top vertical panel; stroke height in the panel beneath it.
The Line tool draws straight lines. After selecting the Line tool, click where you want your line to start. Drag and release where you want it to end. The Stroke Panel and the Stroke Color box adjust line dimensions and qualities the same way for the Line tool as they do the Stroke tool.
Holding down your Shift key as you use the line tool will constrain your lines to 45° angles.
Sometimes the subtlety of too elaborate stroke styles can get lost in a viewer's browser. Because of this, many Flash designers prefer to keep stroke styles relatively simple and not too detailed. Some of the more involved stroke styles work best on large, relatively simple, and straightforward graphics.