WPDFD Issue #35 - February 01, 2001
Hot New Products News of the latest new products for Web designers - with a particular emphasis on Web graphics - as usual!. Swish 1.51 This great Flash text effects program now supports imported images and sound and there is a free alpha version of Swish 2 to download. (PC only). ProJPEG 5.1 BoxTop Software's JPEG squeezer now supports Photoshop Actions and PaintShop Pro and makes those JPEG files smaller than ever.
As soon as you hear the word 'Flash' mentioned, you immediately think of animation on Web pages, or to be more accurate, moving graphics. I make the distinction here because 'animation' involves more than making a few circles and lines of type move across the screen. However, I'm not going to discuss animation at all in this short series of articles, Flash can do a lot more than animation and it is those other things that I'm going to be looking at.
In Flash, fonts can be embedded, stored as symbols in a library or converted to outlines. When you export your .SWF file from Flash, static text is always embedded by default so you can always be sure that the reader sees 'exactly' what you intend, not an approximation. With TrueType fonts, there will be few surprises, although I have noticed that certain typefaces don't convert to outlines correctly in Flash, their counters fill-in.
This book is targeted squarely at users who are new to Flash and the concepts of frame-based animation and scripting. Similar in idea to the Visual Quickstart type of book, it takes the novice through a series of exercises explaining the interface and content creation techniques but uses simple metaphors in down-to-earth language to describe technical theory. The second half of the book goes into bells and whistles like sound and optimisation in detail with a considerable section spent on introducing programming concepts in the ActionScript chapters including use of variables and 'if' clauses, object-orientated principles and simple game construction.
Take 19 top-notch Flash designers and ask them to write about their favourite Flash projects, pass on their personal experiences regarding inspiration and design objectives and bundle the whole lot up in a big, glossy book together with all the files and source code on a CD-ROM, plus a lot more, and you have the essence of New Masters of Flash. Where other books may simply print screen shots of stunning Flash sites, this one goes a lot further and tells you why and how, with loads of examples of scripting and timeline illustrations.
Sometimes you need to put two Photoshop layers exactly in register with one another. For instance, your scanner might not be big enough and you have to scan an image in pieces and join them back together in Photoshop seamlessly. There are various ways to do this, such as making one layer semi transparent, for instance, but the way that works best for me is to set the top layer to 'difference' mode.