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Lesson 4. Creating Animation > Using a Motion Guide

Using a Motion Guide

You can use a motion guide to force a tweened symbol to follow a specified path. This technique is great for simulating motion along a curved or irregular line. All you have to do is select the layer you want to guide and then choose Insert > Motion Guide.

In the following exercise, you'll learn how to create a motion tween that follows a path, or motion guide, to move the Neptune Logo to the top of the stage. You'll also learn how to use onionskinning to see multiple frames of your animation at the same time.

Select the Neptune Logo layer, and drag the playhead to frame 10. Insert a keyframe at frame 10, select this new keyframe, and choose Insert > Create Motion Tween.

This step should be a piece of cake for you, because you did the same thing in the preceding exercise. This time, you're going to spice things up a bit by adding a path for the animated symbol—in this case, the Neptune Logo—to follow. You can drag the playhead between frames 10 and 15 to see that the Neptune Logo currently just zooms to the top-left corner of the stage. You're going to make it follow a curved path.

Right+click (Windows) or Control+click (Macintosh) the Neptune Logo layer, and choose Add Motion Guide from the contextual menu.

A new layer called Guide: Neptune Logo appears above the Neptune Logo layer. A motion-guide icon appears to the left of the name, and the Neptune Logo layer is indented below it.

Insert a keyframe at frame 10 of the Guide: Neptune Logo layer.

You're going to add a motion guide to this layer, but first, you have to see the whole animation that you want to place in the motion guide. To do that, you turn on onionskinning.

Unlock the Neptune Logo layer, and click the onionskin outlines button at the bottom of the timeline.

Flash's onionskin feature lets you view multiple frames at the same time. The onionskin outlines feature lets you see only the outlines of the selected frames. But before you can really use this feature, you need to specify which frames you want to view. The onionskin markers appear at the top of the timeline. These markers show you which frames are included in the onionskin.

Drag the left onionskin marker to frame 10 and the right onionskin marker to frame 15.

The outlines of the contents of frames 10 through 15 should be visible. If you wanted to view the actual contents of each frame instead of outlines, you could have clicked the onionskin button in step 4. As it is, you can see the outlines of the contents of each of these frames at the same time.

You can see which color will be used for the onionskin outline to the right of the layer name in the timeline. This color is set in the Layer Properties dialog box as the Outline Color.

Select the line tool, and set the stroke color to red (#FF0000).

You're going to create a line that will be your motion guide.


When you create a motion guide, it's wise to make the line height 4 or larger, so that it's easier to see the line on top of everything else.

Select frame 10 of the Guide: Neptune Logo layer. Draw a line from the center of the Neptune Logo in the center of the stage to the center of the outline near the top-left corner of the stage.

The Neptune Logo in the center of the stage is in frame 10; the outline of the logo in the corner of the stage represents the logo's place in frame 15. The line between these two points is the motion guide. The motion guide currently is straight, which won't change the animation (because the animation was already moving in a straight line), so you need to make it a curved line instead.

Use the arrow tool to drag the line into a curve.

The path of the outlines should change with the shape of the line. If it doesn't, make sure that the center point of the instance in each keyframe is on the line. If you're having trouble making your symbol follow the path, lock the Guide: Neptune Logo layer, make sure that Snap to Objects is selected in the Options section of the toolbox, and drag the instance of the Neptune Logo around the stage by its center. As you drag, you should notice a small circle. Drag that circle near the line, and the symbol should snap to the line automatically.

Make sure that you perform this step for each instance of the Neptune Logo symbol. You have one in frame 10 and another in frame 15.

Drag the playhead to frame 1, and play the movie. If you like what you see, turn off the onionskin outlines feature, and save the movie in the MyWork folder as neptune17.fla.

You can turn off onionskin outlines by clicking the onionskin outlines button in the timeline again.

Now that you have motion tweening down, it's time to make a complex animation for your movie. You're going to make this animation inside a movie clip, and while you're at it, you're going to learn what a movie clip is.

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