Working with Fireworks
Macromedia Flash MX now ships as part of a bundled suite of tools called Macromedia Studio MX. This suite includes Flash MX, Dreamweaver MX, Freehand 10, and Fireworks MX, all tools that you can use to build complex, dynamic sites.
Studio MX's graphics tool is Fireworks MX. If you have used Adobe PhotoShop, Corel Draw, or Jasc's PaintShopPro, you will find that the interface to Fireworks has many of the same controls as the other graphics programs.
A significant advantage that Fireworks has over these other tools is the integration it has with Flash. Fireworks allows you to develop designs and then immediately pull them into Flash.
In this article, you will use the basic drawing tools in Fireworks to build the interface for the Flash MX Magic Web site.
Begin by opening Fireworks MX. You will need to open a new document. Select File, New. This opens the New Document window (see Figure 1). Set the document to 750 pixels wide and 600 pixels high, with a resolution of 72. Later you will import the graphics you are building here into Flash.
Figure 1 Fireworks opens a new window 750 x 600 pixels.
Within Fireworks, along the left side of the screen are all the tools you will need to design the graphics for the site. The first image will have three rectangles used for the background. Choose the Rectangle shape tool (see Figure 2).
Figure 2 The Rectangle tool.
Some of the Properties for the Rectangle tool must be changed. As you might expect, the Properties for the Rectangle tool are managed through the Property Panelyes, the same panel you use for managing Properties in Flash. Begin by changing the line thickness to 1 with a color of #666666.
A color can be directly entered into the color selector if you know the hexadecimal, or hex, number. Enter the hex number, such as #FFFFFF for white, and select the Enter key. Alternatively, you can use the Eye Dropper tool to choose from one of the many colors presented in the color selector. Or, you can use the Eye Dropper to choose a color on the canvas.
Choose the Fill Color icon (look for the paint pot) and change the color to #000000, black.
On the canvas, draw a rectangle 467 pixels wide by 126 pixels high. Place the rectangle 282 pixels in on the x axis and 128 pixels the y axis. (See Figure 3.)
Figure 3 Here you can see the rectangle drawn on the canvas.
Two more rectangles must be drawn. The dimensions for them are as follows:
Rectangle 2 Height = 126 Width = 467 X = 282 Y = 282
Rectangle 3 Height = 126 Width = 467 X = 283 Y = 439
These rectangles later will be used to hold text for the site. You need to label the text fields so that users coming to the site will know what each section is for. Above the top rectangle, draw a new rectangle 169 pixels wide and 25 pixels high. Place the rectangle 282 pixels on the x axis by 103 pixels on the y axis.
Select the new rectangle and press F8. This converts the image into a symbol. Create a Graphic symbol and name it rectangle (see Figure 4).
Figure 4 Converting a symbol.
Open the Library, Assets panel. Drag two instances of the rectangle symbol onto the canvas. (See Figure 5.)
Figure 5 These three images were created from the same symbol instance.
Select the text tool and Caps Lock key. Over each new rectangle library instance, add the titles NEWS, AUTHOR, and ERRATTA.
The final step is to save the drawing. Select File, Save. Name the file background.png. The file you are saving is a PNG file.
Macromedia Studio MX interacts closely with itself. You will find that it is becoming much easier to work in Fireworks and then take your work immediately to Flash. Fireworks is an easier tool to design with than Flash. The PNG file format retains your design and can be imported into Flash as a movie clip. This does mean that you need to know two tools. But as you work more with Flash, you will find that you need to know a good graphics program to complement Flash. If you are going to use one, it might as well be Fireworks.
The previous steps showed you how to create a simple background. The final site also has additional graphics, all in orange, wrapped around it. You can see where these were added in Figure 6.
Figure 6 The finished design.