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Creating Flash Animations in Adobe Illustrator

Using the Release to Layers functions to generate animated SWF files By Dave Nagel
One of the features that's often overlooked in Adobe Illustrator 10 is its ability to generate Flash animations. The process is not a complicated one, but using tools included in Illustrator--and even some third-party plugins--you can use Illustrator to generate morphing logos and text, swirling graphics, ripple effects and a whole range of animations ranging from the simple to the complex.

The process for generating Flash animations in Illustrator is called "releasing to layers." That is, each element or group of elements in your illustration is distributed (released) to separate layers, which can then be exported as incremental frames in an SWF animation file, ready for use on the Web--or, even better, ready for use within any application that supports QuickTime, since QuickTime can easily handle SWF files. These include Adobe After Effects, Apple FInal Cut Pro, Discreet Combustion, Pinnacle Commotion, etc. So your animations are not just limited to Web work.


Using the Blend tool to create morphs
Now, as I mentioned earlier, this is not a complicated process. And you can create your animations using a variety of techniques. First, let's take a look at a method using Illustrator's built-in Blend tool.

To begin, I'm going to create two pieces of text and convert them to outlines. The first piece of text, "Release," will be positioned beneath the second piece of text, "Layers."



As you see from our initial layout, the two objects are positioned as individual groups within Layer 1.



I'll then choose the Blend tool and double-click it to call up my options. Here I'll choose the type of blend and the number of steps I want in the blend. (I know I'll be exporting this animation at 10 frames per second, and I want the animation to last about two seconds, so I'll make it 20 steps.)





Then I'll use the tool to click first on "Release," then on "Layers" on the canvas. This will create my blend. After that, I choose Object > Expand to render the individual objects within the blend. And Then I'll choose Object > Ungroup to ungroup the individual objects.



Now I'll go back to my Layers palette and click on Layer 1. From the flyaway menu, I'll choose "Release to Layers (Sequence)," which will distribute my objects in a sequence to individual layers. (Choosing the "Build" option will make the objects build upon each other, rather than replacing one another in sequence.)



And that's all there is to it. Now I choose Export, and select the Macromedia Flash (SWF) option.



And I choose my SWF settings, which can include looping options, HTML generation and the like.



And here's the result.








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Related Keywords:One of the features thats often overlooked in Adobe Illustrator 10 is its ability to generate Flash animations. The process is not a complicated one, but using tools included in Illustrator--and even some third-party plugins--you can use Illustrator to generate morphing logos and text, swirling graphics, ripple effects and a whole range of animations ranging from the simple to the complex.

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