I'd like to point out some of the cool, but small features in Flash you can use to make your Flash graphics look a bit more interesting. Oftentimes, shadow effects are created using bitmap graphics. This largely has to do with the tonal range a raster graphic can provide. Flash, as we all know, is vector based, and vectors cannot offer that same tonal range. Therefore, Flash has a few workarounds, but keep in mind that using them will increase the file size of your final document. Also, these effects, especially when animated, will require the end user to have a more powerful machine. The features that offer these effects can be found under the Modify, Shape menu:
Convert Lines to Fills. Oftentimes to create 3D-looking graphics, your artwork must have a large stroke, and that stroke must be filled with tonal colors. To get the tonal values, a gradient must be applied. You may have noticed that there are no gradients in the stroke swatch. This is the main reason for converting the strokes into fill colors. Once that adjustment has been made, you cannot fill the line color with a gradient.
Expand Fill. Use this option to change the size of the fill. In the Expand Fill dialog box, choose how many pixels you'd like the fill to expand or inset. Expand will make the fill appear larger, and Inset will make the fill smaller.
Soften Fill Edges. Inside the Soften Fill Edges dialog box, choose how many steps you'd like to take and indicate whether you'd like to expand or inset the fill. If you choose to expand the fill, it will have additional strokes applied around it in the number of steps that you have designated, and each of these strokes will gradually have less opacity. Inset works the same, but the additional strokes will cut into the size of the fill.
Refer to the QuickTime video included on this book's companion Web site for further explanation on how to use the Shape menu.