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Like this article? We recommend Tips for Creating Animations in Illustrator

Tips for Creating Animations in Illustrator

Now that you have some animation experience, I want to share with you some cool techniques for creating animations in Illustrator:

  • Select a scatter brush in the Brushes panel–a snowflake, for example–or make your own scatter brush. You want a scatter brush because it will create multiple copies of the object along a path. Draw a path with the art brush applied. With that path selected, choose Object > Expand Appearance to break the brush into separate objects. In the Layers panel, select the layer containing the expanded brush objects. Choose Release to Layers (Sequence) from the Layers panel menu to create layers from each object. Export the animation and give it a whirl!
  • Add text to the animation and then animate the text by using a blend or layer-base animation. You can also add text as a static layer that will be visible during the entire animation. When you export an animation with text, pay attention to the options "Export Text as Outlines" and "Ignore Kerning Information for Text" to see some tips for reducing file sizes. For more information about these Export options, go to Illustrator Help (Help > Illustrator Help) and search for Flash export options.
  • Use symbols in an animation when there are multiple copies of an object–for example, the filmstrip I added to the number layers in this tutorial. Converting the filmstrip to a symbol could be a great way to reduce the file size.
  • Suppose you want to reverse the animation order of the number layers you created for the article animation–running from 5 to 1, rather than 1 to 5 as they are now. Easy! Select all of the number layers in the Layers panel by Shift-clicking the top and the bottom layers that you want. Choose Reverse Order from the Layers panel menu, and then test the animation.
  • Here's a technique that's a little trickier.
    1. Select an object you created; for this example, a star.
    2. Create a larger copy of the object and paste it behind the original (Edit > Paste in Back).
    3. Select the Blend tool in the Tools panel and click each object to make a blend. Double-click the Blend tool, select Specified Steps from the Spacing menu, and set a number such as 10. Click OK.
    4. Choose Object > Expand and then Object > Ungroup.
    5. In the Layers panel, select the layer containing the stars, and choose Release to Layers (Sequence). You just created an animation of a shrinking star!
    6. Now suppose you want to have the star shrink and then grow again to its original size. Select all of the star sublayers in the Layers panel; then choose Duplicate Selection to make copies of all the original sublayers.
    7. Select all of the sublayer copies and choose Reverse Order from the Layers panel menu. Test your new animation and revise as needed.

You've learned the basics of creating a SWF animation from Illustrator, with a few extra tips thrown in for good measure. There are lots of things you can do to create a really useful animation, so have fun exploring!

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