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This chapter is from the book

Q&A

Q

Importing Photoshop and Illustrator files looks pretty cool, but I don't have those programs. How can I test out some of what I learned this hour?

A

Oh yeah. I uploaded some sample .ai and .psd files in the downloads section for this book at www.phillipkerman.com/teachyourself.

Q

I'm having trouble importing images from a digital camera. I have some great shots of my cactus collection but they're huge after I import them. How can I resize them?

A

Because multi-megapixel cameras produce originals that can be thousands of pixels wide, you don't want to import these directly. Instead, first use an image editing program such as Fireworks to resize the image to something that will fit comfortably on a normal screen size—that is, less than 1024x768 or 800x600. By the way, taking a megapixel image and scaling it down inside Flash does not improve the sharpness. Actually, it does the opposite if you don't select the Allow Smoothing option—but worse still, the file size will be huge. Don't do that; resize (and possibly optimize) before importing!

Q

I have a photograph that must remain as a raster graphic. After I scan it into the computer and touch it up, what file format should I choose? There are so many.

A

Generally, you want to keep all your raster graphics in the highest-quality format possible before importing into Flash. One exception is when you use a tool such as Fireworks to produce an optimally compressed image (say, with varying degrees of compression using a JPEG mask). If you use an outside program to compress the image, you should just make sure you don't recompress in Flash (simply leave the default setting Use Imported JPEG Quality). Alternatively, if you import a high-quality .pct, .bmp, or .png, you can compress it in Flash until you're satisfied with the compression level. JPEGs are all right, but they always have some compression that could result in artifacts. GIFs are not a good alternative because they can't have more than 256 explicit colors. Simply changing the file format of an existing image will never make a graphic better, and it will potentially make it worse. You should start with the best quality possible and then bring it down as the very last step.

Q

How do you determine how much one graphic is contributing to the final movie's file size?

A

If it's a raster graphic, you can explore the Bitmap Properties dialog box, which tells you exactly how big a graphic is. With vector graphics, determining the size is more difficult. Ultimately, you should copy the graphic into a new file and export a .swf of that file (by selecting File, Export). You can look at the file size. Sometimes it's not so important how much one graphic is contributing, especially if it's an important graphic. However, your concern should always be to not add to the file size unnecessarily.

Q

I have a fairly simple graphic (as an Illustrator file) that I would like to import into Flash. It's impossible to redraw in Flash, so I have to import it, right?

A

This sounds like a contradiction to me: The file is simple, but it's impossible to draw in Flash. Make sure you're fully exploiting the potential of Flash. (Read Hour 2, "Drawing and Painting Original Art in Flash," again if necessary.) If you have to import the image, do so. You may still have the best luck if you first export it from Illustrator as a .swf before importing, however.

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