Different Types of Tools in Flash
Flash is a 2D animation software that can be used on different operating systems like macOS, Windows, Linux, etc. It was first launched in 1996 and the latest version is released in 2021. It is capable of different functionalities like masking, character tracing, lip-sync, motion and shape tweening, frame by frame animations etc. The animations created in Flash are vector-based rather than pixel animations which can only be zoomed to a certain level but this is not the case with vector-based animations so they provide high-quality animations.
Tools are used to create animations so one needs to understand all the tools provided in flash. There are a number of tools in flash and we will learn about each one by one. On opening the Flash, the toolbar can be found on the left-hand side.
Description and Functions of Tools in Flash
Selection Tool: The selection tool is one of the most used tools, it is used to select and move anything present on the stage. Its shortcut key is V.
The selection tool can select the complete objects and also the parts of the object. To select any object just left-click on it once and to deselect it again click on it.
To select multiple objects at the same time hold the shift key and left-click on the objects you want to select, they will be selected easily.
Subselection Tool: The subselection tool allows us to edit curves so to make customized shapes. Its shortcut key is A. If we left-click on any object then rectangular points will be visible on the vertices of any shape which can be used to manipulate that object.
Now on the circle, there are different rectangular points that can be manipulated in different ways to make different shapes.
Free Transform Tool: Free Transform tool allows us to scale, rotate and skew any object. It is very helpful in changing the size and orientation of objects. Its shortcut key is Q.
To scale, rotate and skew any object just left-click on that object after taking the free transform tool and use edges for skew, vertices for scaling and rotating.
3D Rotation Tool: This tool is used to move 2D objects in 3D space. Its shortcut key is W. To use this tool first of all you need to convert any object into a movie clip.
To convert an object into a movie clip just left click on the object and select it, after selecting right click on the object, a list will appear choose convert to a symbol. Your object is now been converted to a movie symbol.
Now, this can be rotated at any axis in 3D space.
Lasso Tool: This tool is to cut an object into two or more objects. Its shortcut key is L. It is used when we need customised shapes then we can cut the shapes into pieces according to the need of our animation. Lasso tool is also used to remove unnecessary components which are not needed in the final output.
Pen Tool: The pen tool is used to draw lines or precise curves. Its shortcut key is P. This tool is very helpful in character tracing and making a point to point lines. Different types of lines can be created easily for animation works, it is mainly used in making background animations.
The above line is been created using the Pen tool, for this just select the pen tool and click on any place on the stage, a point will be created now click on some other place and a line will be created joining these points, you can extend the line as long as you want.
Text Tool: The text tool is used to write anything on the stage, it is also used in text animations. Its shortcut key is T. Text can be made attractive by using different shades and colours from the properties toolbar. It can be used in intro text videos where text rolls from one side to another. There are a number of effects that can be applied to text.
To use the tool just select the test tool, and a text box will appear on stage, now write anything in the text box.
Line Tool: Line tool is used in drawing different types of lines like straight, curved etc. Its shortcut key is N. Making a stylized character is easy using tracing with the help of line tool, with line tool different properties can also be applied to make an animation or drawing more realistic like stroke width, colour etc can be manipulated to provide smooth touch.
To use the tool just select the line tool, and draw a line, this line can be manipulated using free transform and other tools.
Shape Tool: The shape tool has a number of shapes that can be used to draw circles, rectangles, ovals, polygons etc. Each has its own shortcut key like taking the case of the rectangle it’s shortcut key is R and it can be used to draw rectangles as well as squares, next is the oval tool which is used to draw oval and circle, for drawing circle just press the shift key. Rectangle Primitive tool is used to draw rectangles and squares with round corners, similarly, the Oval Primitive tool is used in making sectors of the circle. Polystar tool is used in making polygons of different number of sides.
Different figures can be made using these tools, some examples are given below.
Pencil Tool: Pencil is used to draw freehand lines, it is mostly used in the frame by frame animations when each and every object is drawn again and again. Pencil stroke width can be changed using the stroke width option. Its shortcut key is Y. Pencil tool works best on animation tablets with weight properties in that case it allows the animator to have complete control on the lines drawn by the pencil tool. Different features like width, smoothness etc can be easily controlled using a property panel.
Brush Tool: Brush tool is used to draw freehand strokes, it is like a pencil tool and is also used in the frame by frame animations. Brush tool stroke consists of an outer width and an inner line whose properties can be changed as per the need. Its shortcut key is B. The main difference between the line drawn by the pencil tool and the brush tool is that the pencil-drawn line does not have an outer width or stroke but in the case of lines drawn by brush, it has both outer and inner width which help in achieving different effects.
Deco Tool: Deco tool is used to decorate anything like backgrounds with different pre-built designs and styles. It is really useful in making attractive foregrounds and backgrounds. Its shortcut key is U. Deco tool has a number of designs like leaf, fire, ribbon etc which can be used according to the need of animation. Properties like width, opacity, contrast etc can be manipulated in these designs to give desired effects.
Bone Tool: The bone tool is used to join two or more objects in a structural manner so to make animations. It is like creating human bones and then moving the pivot points so to give a controlling effect on any part of a character or object. Its shortcut key is M. It is easy to use as we can select the tool and draw bones to rig any character. It is mainly used in character rigging and animations are made by these rigged objects. It helps in saving a lot of time as frame by frame animation requires time to draw each and every frame.
Paint bucket tool: Paint bucket tool is used to fill any shape with the desired colour. Its shortcut key is K. It is like a fill tool in paint and can only fill the closed figures hence if any figure is left open then it will not show any colour. Lines cannot be filled with paint bucket tools but strokes made by brush tools can be filled with the paint bucket tools.
Eyedropper tool: The eyedropper tool is used to select the colour of anything available on the stage, and that same colour can be applied anywhere. Its shortcut key is I. It is like giving the exact same colour to multiple items because at times it may be possible that we are unable to get a colour from the colour pallet in this case we only need to use the eyedropper tool and pick the colour from any object and then drop at the place where we want to apply that.
Eraser Tool: Eraser tool is used to erase anything on the stage. The size of the eraser can be changed to small or large. Its shortcut key is E. Eraser tool cannot be used to erase symbols of any type like graphic symbols or movie symbols. So delete the symbol you need to convert the symbol to shape and then you can easily delete them. Faucet option of eraser deletes complete colour from the object in one go.
Hand Tool: The hand tool used us to navigate the screen by holding the screen and then dragging it to any place. Its shortcut key is H. It is used in animating when the camera is recording and we want certain parts of any animation project so to record from different angles use the hand tool to navigate the screen because in flash camera is fixed at a certain position.
Zoom Tool: The zoom tool is used to zoom in and zoom out in the animation work. Its shortcut key is Z. It is used to make fine corrections by zooming into the artwork and can be zoomed out to check how the animation will look at the desired zoom level.