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Hour 5. Using the Library for Productivi... > Task: Make a Symbol Using Instances ...

Task: Make a Symbol Using Instances of Another Symbol

In a new file, draw a circle and fill it with gray.

Select the entire circle and then choose Insert, Convert to Symbol…. Name it Circle and click OK.

At this point you'll make an eyeball from two instances of Circle. One way you could do this is to create a new symbol and then, while inside the master “Eyeball” symbol, drag out instances of Circle. Instead, you'll do it another way, which might be more confusing at first, but I think it'll be easier. There are two ways to get stuff in the Library (either create a new symbol and draw or convert an item to a symbol). Here, you'll use the “convert to symbol” method.

To make the Eyeball symbol, notice that you already have one instance onstage (Circle). Copy and paste this onstage (or drag another instance from the Library). Change the Brightness color style on one instance to –100% (using the Properties panel, select Brightness from the Color drop-down list and set it to –100%). The other instance should be set to 100% Brightness. It might help at this point to change your Movie background color to any color except black or the default white (deselect everything and use the Properties panel to change the background color to gray). This will help you see the all-white instance of Circle.

Now arrange the two instances so the black one is on top, scaled smaller, and set near the edge of the white instance, as shown in Figure 5.16.

Figure 5.16. Two instances of the same Circle symbol with different scales and brightness effects.

Select both instances and then choose Insert, Convert to Symbol…. This will take what's selected—a couple of instances—and put them in the Library. Name this symbol “Eye Ball” and click OK.

Left behind, onstage, is an instance of the Eye Ball symbol you just created. If it's really big, scale it down a bit and then copy and paste it to make two instances exactly the same size. You can rotate one instance of Eye Ball if you want.

Drag an instance of Circle onto the Stage. Send it to the back (right now it's on the top level) using the Modify, Arrange, Send to Back menu. Scale it large enough to be the “face” for the two Eye Ball instances. Change the Tint color effect of this instance of Circle to bright yellow.

Now you'll make the entire face a symbol. First, though, draw a smile with the Brush tool. You might think it's not working because anything you paint on the yellow face disappears. This is because you're painting on the canvas level, and any symbol is like a grouped shape in that it's above the canvas level. You can still draw a smile, though. You could draw it off to the side and then group it, or, if you think you've already drawn one that's hiding behind the face, try carefully using your Arrow tool to marquee just the area where the smile is, as shown in Figure 5.17, and then group the selection (using Modify, Group). If you have several smiles due to failed attempts, just delete this group and try again.

Figure 5.17. Using the marquee technique, you can select the smile on the canvas level.

Finally, when your symbol looks like the one shown in Figure 5.18, select everything, choose Insert, Convert to Symbol…, name the symbol “Face,” and click OK. You now have a Face symbol that can be used over and over again throughout your movie. It's nothing more than recycled circles plus a smile. By the way, there's no need to put the smile in the Library by itself (unless you needed to use it independently with other faces) because it's really in your movie only once—inside the master version of the Face symbol.

Figure 5.18. Our completed Face symbol.

There comes a point where too much hierarchy affects file size negatively. In the case of the house in Figure 5.15, all I had was one line recycled many times. Previously I said Flash stores the original data in the Library, plus information concerning how each instance varies. Usually the original data is the big portion and instance information is insignificant. However, if you take the instance information to an extreme, it can actually work against you. To prove this point, suppose you make a one-pixel dot, put it in the Library, and then use it millions of times to create all kinds of graphics (tinting each pixel instance individually). The extra data for those millions of instances would indeed outweigh the dot in the Library. It's a balance. You should combine convenience with efficiency. In the case of the house, I found that by creating the box from scratch (not with four instances of the line), I cut my exported movie size in half!



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