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Animated Flame Graphic

Here is my first attempt at a moving flame graphic - it could be used as a cyber-Christmas card...

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You need to collect your 'assets' together before you start your project. To gather them you need to have an idea of what you want to produce. You might sketch out your ideas on paper (make a storyboard).

For this project you need:

a series of flame images (there is a Fireworks Lesson showing you how to do that),

a series of flame 'halo' images' (simply use the ellipse tool and gradiemt fill and make semitransparent),
a candle graphic - gradient fill candle body - ellipse candle drips - copper gradient fill ellopse for candle holder - line for the wick (a black and red one)

...and a background image. I used a photo of a snow scene and altered it to look as if it was at night using filters.

The frame was made with a rectangular wood fill with the edges distorted to give the bevelled edge.

These graphics are prepared using Fireworks so they can be imported into the flash document when required.

Open a new Flash document and import your assets into the library. The library should be visible on the right hand side of the page. If it is not then go to window - and tick 'Library' and it will apear.

Make sure you name the graphics in a way that will make their use easy later on.

You need to have layers within your Flash document. The candle graphic has to be the top layer (we want the flame behind the wick image) so it has to be the first layer. The background has to be the background ('natch!) so that layer has to be the bottom layer in your timeline.

Insert the layers into your document (Insert - Timeline - Layer) and name them. Pull images onto the stage and position them for the first frame.

The 'flame flickering' images should not be at regular intervals - just roughly equal time intervals apart - so insert blank keyframes at suitable positions along the flame timeline.

Insert a frame (not a keyframe) at the endpoint for the candle and the background. Then lock those layers

Now pull the images of the flames into place at each stage. You need to have a 'shape tween' in between each flame graphic - but to do that you have to 'break apart' the graphics of the flames.

Click on each flame graphic in turn going to (Modify - Break Apart) to make them ready for the 'shape tween'. Then click on the timeline between the images you want to 'tween' between and right click - 'insert tween' and in the properties box (at the bottom of the page) make it a 'shape tween' - not the default 'motion tween'.

If you do this correctly you will have a green background within the timeline (as shown in the screen shot above) and there will be a little arrow in the green frame - if it is a dashed line it means you have not broken the images apart properly - try doing that again if this happpens.

You now have to repeat this process with your 'halos' .

Within the 'logo' layer I have added information about the Flash Document - you may add a title - your name or a message if you wish on that layer - otherwise delete it.

You can now save the Flash document and export the movie as a swf.

It is easy to amend the animated project once finished - a couple of minutes spent changing things and you have a different result.. that is what is so wonderful about Flash!

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Tutorial 19 shows you how to add sound files to your e-card... you could send a voice message or tune to your loved ones!