New in Flash 8 Professional is a collection of image compositing effects called blending modes and image special effects called filters. With blending modes and filters you can now achieve sophisticated, eye-catching graphic effects with graphic content created within Flash. Before the arrival of Flash 8 Professional, you had to create this content in a program such as PhotoShop and then import it into Flash, dramatically increasing the file size of the project. Blending modes and filters now makes possible the creation of this content directly within Flash Professional 8, giving you more flexibility and control and much smaller file sizes.
This article reviews the Flash 8 blending modes as a sequel to an earlier article that reviewed filters and how to use them to create interesting tween animation effects.
Blending is available only in the professional version of Flash 8 and, together with the new filter effects, is a compelling reason for to upgrade. Blending is a method of mixing the color information of a graphic object with the color information of graphic objects beneath it. Use Flash blending modes to change the appearance of an image on the Stage by combining it in interesting and varied ways with the color content of objects beneath it.
The Flash Professional 8 blending modes provide quick and easy ways to create composite images. Compositing is the process of varying the transparency or color interaction of two or more overlapping objects to alter the appearance of the original images.
Because Blending modes give you control over the transparency of objects, you can use them to let details of an underlying image show through into the topmost image (See Figure 1). In this way, you can blend the colors in overlapping movie clips to create unique visual effects.
Figure 1 The images on the left have no transparency. The oval shape on the right has a blending mode applied to it.
For example, with the Lighten blending mode, you can make the parts of an object appear lighter in color to varying degrees depending on the colors of the objects beneath it.
Flash has a variety of blending modes to help you achieve the look you want. Create highlights or shadows, colorize a grayscale image, mask portions of an image, change the color of a symbol, and much, much more (see Figure 2).
Figure 2 Elements of a Flash blend
Applying blends to your Flash objects is a very straightforward process.
- Convert the objects that you want to blend to either a button or movie clip symbol (blending modes do not work with graphic symbols).
- Drag the symbol over another object on the Stage so that there is at least some overlap. The symbol can be on the same layer as the second object or they can be on separate layers.
- Select your symbol from the Properties inspector and choose a desired Blending mode.
Blending modes are composed of the following elements:
- Base color is the color of pixels underneath the blending color.
- Blending color is the color to which the blending is applied.
- Opacity is the degree of transparency to which the blending is applied.
- Result color is the result of the blending effect on the base color.
The best way to learn about the various blending modes available in Flash Professional 8 is to experiment with each one on a series of overlapping graphic objects. Results can vary and are somewhat unpredictable; you need to experiment with different blending modes to achieve the desired results.