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Creating and Using Guide Layers in Flash CS3

A guide layer is a layer that's invisible in the final, published Flash animation. You can use guide layers for several purposes:

  • Animation: You can place a path on a guide layer to control the motion of an object during animation.
  • Layout: Although you can display guides on the screen to help you draw precisely, you can also place gridlines on guide layers to help you lay out the Stage. Graphic designers use these types of gridlines to figure out how to create a balanced, pleasing effect in their art.
  • Drawing: You can import a bitmap graphic onto a guide layer and draw over the graphic on a regular layer by using the Flash drawing tools. This technique of drawing over a graphic can be a big help when creating your artwork.
    Of course, you could use a regular layer and then erase whatever you don't want to appear in the final movie. But if you need to go back and make changes, you would have to create the guide layer again. Using a guide layer gives you the flexibility of keeping the layer in the movie file, knowing that it will never appear in the published animation.
    Hidden layers appear in the published .swf file, but guide layers don't appear.

To create a guide layer, create a new layer. Then right-click (Windows) or Control+click (Mac) and choose Guide in the shortcut menu. The layer is now a guide layer. Use the same procedure to convert a guide layer back to a regular layer. The Guide item on the menu is a toggle, so when you click it again, Flash removes the guide status of the layer.

When you use a guide layer as a motion guide, you must link the guide layer to a layer that contains the objects you want to guide. The layer with the guided objects is called a guided layer. All objects on a guided layer automatically snap to the path of the motion guide on the guide layer. To link a layer to a guide layer, creating a guided layer, you can do any of the following:

  • Create a new layer under the guide layer
  • Drag an existing layer under the guide layer
  • Choose Modify --> Layer and choose Guided in the Layer Properties dialog box

Flash indents the guided layer below the guide layer to help you see that they're linked. If you want to unlink a guided layer, drag it above the guide layer or choose Modify --> Timeline --> Layer Properties and select the Normal option in the Layer Properties dialog box.

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