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Adobe Flash Catalyst CS5 : Drawing basic shapes and lines

12/31/2011 6:10:24 PM
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For most designers, using the Flash Catalyst drawing tools is a cinch. For anyone new to vector drawing tools, you’ll find the best way to master them is to practice. A little experimentation, combined with the Undo command, goes a long way.

Preview a drawing example

In this exercise, you are going to draw a simple user interface panel. Before you get started, take a look at a sample of the finished panel.

1.
Make sure Panel is selected in the Pages/States panel.

2.
In the Layers panel, show the Sample Panel row.

Here is an example of a simple control panel that was created using basic shapes and lines. You are going to create a similar panel using the Flash Catalyst drawing tools.


3.
Hide the Sample Panel row in the Layers panel.

Draw rectangles

You can draw rectangles with square or rounded corners. There are two ways to create a rounded rectangle. You can use the Rounded Rectangle tool, or you can draw a standard rectangle using the Rectangle tool and then adjust the Corners value in the Properties panel.

1.
In the Tools panel, select the Rectangle tool.

2.
Position the pointer at the upper-left corner of the intersecting guides. Drag to the lower-right corner of the intersecting guides to draw a 400 × 300 rectangle.

As you draw, the edges of the shape snap to the guides.

In the Common section of the Properties panel, you see the properties for the rectangle. The width (W) is 400 and the height (H) is 300. If it’s not, then adjust it in the Properties panel.

The guides make it easy to draw, but difficult to see the result in the artboard.

3.
Choose View > Guides > Show Guides to hide the guides.

4.
In the Properties panel, change the Corners value to 20.

The Panel Background now has rounded corners.

5.
In the Layers panel, rename the Rectangle Panel Background.

Tip

When drawing shapes, you can use the grid to size the shape. For example, if grid lines are 20 pixels high and Snap To Grid is turned on, a rectangle that is three rows high has a height of 60 pixels.

6.
Above the first rectangle, draw another one that’s 400 pixels wide and 60 pixels tall. Change the Corners value to 20. Then, in the Layers panel, name the second rectangle Panel Header.


7.
Below the Panel Background, draw another rectangle that’s exactly 400 pixels wide by 30 pixels high. You can adjust its final size in the Properties panel if needed. Leave the Corners value set to 0.

8.
In the Layers panel, name the new rectangle Header Overlay. We’ll use this to hide the rounded corners at the bottom of the header.

Now let’s draw a track for the panel scroll bar.

Draw rounded rectangles

OK, so technically you’ve already drawn some rounded rectangles using the Rectangle tool and the Properties panel. But the Rounded Rectangle tool provides a shortcut by adding rounded corners automatically.

1.
Select the Rounded Rectangle tool.

Tip

You can change between shape tools by using their shortcut keys. For example, to select the Rectangle tool, press M. To select the Rounded Rectangle, press U. To select the Ellipse tool, press L.

2.
Draw a tall rectangle that’s 200 pixels high and about 10 pixels wide (halfway between two grid lines). In the Layers panel, name the rectangle Track.

By default, the corner radius is 10, which is fine for the scroll bar track.

Tip

To move a shape or grouped objects, use the Select tool. To select and move a single object within a group, use the Direct Select tool.

3.
Using the Select tool (dark arrow) in the Tools panel, drag the Track rectangle to position it along the inside lower-right edge of the larger rectangle.

Next, we’ll draw a thumb for the scroll bar.

4.
Using the Rounded Rectangle tool, draw a small rounded rectangle that overlaps the track. Make it about 20 pixels wide by 40 pixels high.

5.
In the Layers panel, name the small rectangle Thumb.

You now have five rectangles that make up the shapes you need to build the panel. You’re going to add some style and position these elements in a moment, but first you’ll create some shapes for the panel close button.

Draw ellipses

To create a close button for the panel, let’s start by drawing a large circle. We’ll make it big at first and then scale it down later. To draw a perfect circle, use the Ellipse tool with the Shift key modifier.

1.
Select the Ellipse tool in the Tools panel.

2.
Hold down Shift and drag to draw a perfect circle that’s 200 × 200 pixels. In the grid, that’s a circle that is 10 rows high and 10 rows wide. You might find that it’s easier to draw the circle and then change its size in the Properties panel.

The ellipse is a perfect circle.


Draw basic lines

The close button should have an X in the middle. Let’s use the grid to draw a perfect plus sign, and then we’ll rotate the entire button to turn the plus sign into an X.

1.
Select the Line tool in the Tools panel.

2.
Position the pointer 20 pixels (one grid line) below the top of the circle, in the center. Drag to draw a vertical line that’s 160 pixels high. You can hold down Shift as you draw to make a perfectly vertical line.

3.
Position the pointer 10 pixels inside the left edge of the circle, in the center. Drag to draw a horizontal line that’s about 160 pixels wide. You can hold down Shift as you draw to make a perfectly horizontal line.

You now have the basic shapes for the panel close button. You’ll rotate this in a moment.

 
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