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Importing Freehand Drawings into Flash

In Flash, importing FreeHand files is possibly the easiest thing you can do. Good thing, too, because otherwise all the hard prep work you did in FreeHand would go to waste. As it is, it's all about to pay off.

  1. Open Flash and create a new document (File > New). Now select File > Import (Ctrl+R in Windows, Command+R on Macintosh) and import TEC-logo1.FH10. In the FreeHand Import dialog box, you can accept the default settings.

    Figure 10


    There are only two file formats you can open in Flash: FLA (the native format) and SWF (the Flash publishing format). In order to get art into Flash that wasn't created in one of those two formats, you are limited to importing it into an FLA file.

  2. Open the Library panel (Window > Library or Ctrl+L in Windows, Command+L on the Mac).

    You'll see two familiar symbols: TEC-logo and Dot.

    Figure 11


    When you use multiple instances of symbols in the Flash Library, it's often useful to know how many instances you are using. Widen the Library panel, and, from the pop-up menu, select Keep Use Counts Updated. You'll see a column in the Library list that indicates how many instances of each symbol are in use within the document. This command is analogous to the Count column in FreeHand's Library panel.

    Within the Flash Library, there are three kinds of vector symbols: graphics, buttons, and movie clips. (You can also import sounds and bitmaps, which will be indicated by distinctive icons within the Library.) FreeHand symbols import as graphic symbols.

  3. Double-click on the single instance of the TEC-logo symbol that's on the stage, and then drag-select around all the elements in the logo.

    Figure 12

    Just above the stage, and below the horizontal toolbar, you'll notice one or more tabs. These tabs serve as a graphic way to indicate a hierarchical relationship among Library objects in a Flash file. When you see more than one tab (the first tab is the indicator for the top level of the current scene in the Flash FLA file), you know that you are now editing a Library object, instead of working within to the main timeline. There are several ways to "drill down" into an object to edit it. You can right-click (Windows) or control-click (Macintosh) and choose Edit In Place from the contextual menu. This will allow you to edit the object, but still see other objects that may be on the stage—objects that are not a part of the symbol you are editing. You can also just double-click on the symbol to accomplish the same thing. If you double-click on the symbol in the Library, you will jump to editing the symbol, but you won't see any other objects on the main stage.


    Flash and FreeHand share a hierarchical approach to organizing symbols. This is important, because it means that a symbol (TEC-logo) can contain multiple instances of another symbol (Dot). Essentially, symbols can contain other symbols. The more you take advantage of this data structure, the smaller and more efficient your Flash files will be, for you then begin to build complex symbols as a construct of one or more simple symbols.

  4. Close the file you created.

    There is no need to save your work at this time.

    To recap, you've learned how to create Flash symbols in FreeHand, and import them into Flash. Now let's make this logo come to life.

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