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Lesson 2. Using Graphics and Text > Using Rulers and Guides to Position Element...

Using Rulers and Guides to Position Elements

When you are working in Flash, you can use rulers and draggable guides to position elements precisely on the stage. In Flash 5, you can even drag guides from the rulers onto the stage.

Open neptune1.fla. Choose View > Rulers to turn on the rulers. Choose View > Guides > Snap to Guides, and select Snap to Guides.

You can find neptune1.fla in the Lesson02/Assets folder on the CD-ROM that comes with this book.

When you choose View > Rulers, the rulers appear along the top and left sides of the stage. Like real-world rulers, the rulers show units of measure and are useful for positioning elements on the stage.


By default, Flash 5's rulers measure in pixels. If you'd rather see measurements in inches, decimal inches, points, centimeters, or millimeters, choose Modify > Movie, and in the Movie Properties dialog box, choose a different unit of measure from the Ruler Units pop-up menu.

If there is a check next to Snap to Guides, it is already selected. Selecting Snap to Guides forces anything drawn near a guide to snap to the line. This option makes it much easier to position your elements at exactly the right spot.

Click the ruler at the top of the stage and, holding down the mouse button, drag to the stage.

When you click and drag the ruler, a green line appears on the stage. This is your guide.

Position the guide at the 10-pixel mark. Then position three more guides at spots 10 pixels from the bottom, the right side, and the left side of the movie.

Use the rulers to help you place your guides properly. Each of the large, unnumbered hash marks on the rulers represents 10 pixels.

You should end up with four guides on the stage. They'll create a rectangle, which you'll use to draw a border for your movie.


To reposition a guide, select the arrow tool; then click and drag the guide. To remove a guide, use the arrow tool to drag the guide to the horizontal or vertical ruler.

Select the rectangle tool. In the Options area of the toolbox, click the button to open the Rectangle Settings dialog box. In the Rectangle Settings dialog box, set the corner radius to 0. In the Color area of the toolbox, select the fill-color swatch, and click the no-color button.

You're going to use the rectangle tool to draw the border around your movie. Setting the corner radius of the rectangle tool to 0 ensures that the rectangle will have square corners, rather than rounded ones. Setting the fill to no color means that only the stroke (the outside edge) of the rectangle will appear.

But you're not finished defining the look of your rectangle.

In the Stroke panel, set the stroke style to Solid, the width to 1, and the color to white.

If the Stroke panel is not already open, choose Window > Panels > Stroke to open it.

The Stroke panel lets you modify all the properties of the stroke. If you wanted to modify only the color of the stroke, you could also use the stroke-color swatch in the Color section of the toolbox, or the stroke-color swatch in the Mixer panel.

Can you picture your rectangle? In the next step, you'll see it.

Drag the rectangle tool over the stage, using the guides to help you.

Oops! You can't see the rectangle after all. The rectangle snaps right to the guides, and when you release the mouse button, the guides are hiding the rectangle.

If you're really curious, choose View > Guides > Show Guides to hide the guides. You should see a fine-lined white rectangle exactly where the guides were positioned. Choose View > Guides > Show Guides to turn the guides back on.

If you're less curious, you can just look at the following figure. If you followed all the steps, there is a rectangle on the stage.

Drag another set of four guides onto the stage and line them up precisely with the outer edges of the movie. Without changing any settings, draw a second rectangle to form an outer border for the movie.

When you hide the guides, you should see a nice inner and outer border for your movie.

You're going to continue working with this movie, so now is a good time to save it.

Save your movie as neptune2.fla in the MyWork folder on your hard disk.



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