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Joe Sparks <joesparks@joesparks.com>

Using FreeHand MX with Flash MX
by Joe Sparks

Intro * Chapter 1 * Chapter 2 * Chapter 3

Intro

FreeHand MX is an indispensable tool for Flash MX users. I have used FreeHand as an important part of my Flash arsenal since I took up Flash animation– way back with the release of Flash 4.

I often have it open while working in Flash. The most frequent way I use FreeHand day-to-day: I draw complex shapes in FreeHand, copy them, and simply paste them right into Flash.

My first animated character in Flash was a certain floating skull named "The Radiskull." I created this character inside of FreeHand 7, before I even started working animating in Flash. I set up all of my animated layers and movable parts in FreeHand. Here's a screen shot:

Radiskull was created in FreeHand 8! Here's an old article about using FreeHand on the Radiskull & Devil Doll animation series.

Little did I know, this silly FreeHand illustration would soon be seen the several million people who watched Radiskull & Devil Doll on shockwave.com!

Since those days, FreeHand has come a long way. The Flash integration is much tighter and more convenient. Flash MX does a great job of supporting native FreeHand files, and vice versa. The new artistic effects and vector effects are amazing and very useful.

As you will see in chapter 1, Flash support has come so far with FreeHand MX, that in some cases, you do not even need to touch Flash to create a complete interactive Flash movie. FreeHand MX adds authoring support for Flash with interactive tools like the Action tool and Navigation panel. These allow you set up buttons and frames with Flash actions that respond to the mouse and animation– and much more.

I gave FreeHand MX a good workout on a small design project, creating promotional materials and assets for San Francisco DJ Matt Hite. Come take a tour with me– through 3 big chapters of tutorials, graphics, tips, and demos, and we'll explore how FreeHand MX can be a central tool for Flash media creation.

Chapter 1 - Interactive Logo Browser Project
A large tutorial on how to build a simple interactive presentation with FreeHand MX, to be publish and viewed as a Flash movie. We will examine the Action tool, creating interactive Flash movies, creating and using symbols, Flash export, and fine-tuning rendering inside of Flash.

Chapter 2 - Creating Animation with FreeHand MX
Take a detailed tour of each of the major methods of creating Flash animation inside of FreeHand MX. We'll look at frame-by-frame techniques, using layers to build frames of animation, using the blend tool and the "release to layers" command to create special effects and automated animation, and more.

Chapter 3 - FreeHand & Flash Integration and Workflow
Step by step tutorials for Flash Launch-and-Edit, SWF Import to FreeHand, FreeHand import to Flash, and techniques for making the best use of native FreeHand MX files inside Flash MX.

 

Next: Chapter 1 - Interactive Logo Browser Project

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