Draw Lines and Curves in Flash CS5 - dummies

By Jennifer Smith, Christopher Smith, Fred Gerantabee

The Pen and Pencil tools in Adobe Flash Creative Suite 5 help you create more complex artwork than that offered by the Shape and Line tools.

Draw simple lines with the Line tool

The Line tool makes constructing perfect, straight lines quick and easy. To create a straight line, choose the Line tool from the Tools panel, click and drag on your stage where you want the line to start, and release the mouse button where you want the line to end.

To modify your line’s color or appearance, select it with the Selection tool and use the Property inspector to change the stroke color and size. You also find a Style drop-down list, which lets you choose among straight, dotted, dashed, and artistic stroke styles.

To create perfectly vertical or horizontal lines, hold down the Shift key while using the Line tool. You can also create diagonal lines in 45-degree increments by using this same method.

Draw curves and paths with the Pen tool

The Pen tool in Flash CS5 isn’t a freehand drawing tool; rather, you use it to create paths, or outlines, composed by connecting anchor points. When you click and create new points, lines are automatically drawn to connect those points. You can then either bend those lines into precise curves or leave them straight.

The best way to understand the Pen tool is to practice working with it. Visualize a shape you want to draw, and try to create it with the Pen tool.

  1. Select the Pen tool from the Tools panel.

  2. Use the Color swatch on the bottom of the Tools panel to set a stroke color.

  3. Click to set the first point on the stage and then construct a line by clicking again to set a second point where you want the line to end.

  4. Click to set a new point; before releasing the mouse button, drag to the left or right to bend the new line into a curve.

    The more you drag in a particular direction, the more extreme the curve you create.

  5. Continue creating new points and experimenting with different curves.

  6. Move your mouse pointer over the first point you created (a loop appears above the icon) and click to close the path and complete the shape.

The Pen tool attempts to continue a curve in the same direction even after a new point is set. To reset the last point drawn back to a straight line, hold down the Option (Mac) or Alt (Windows) key and click the last point created before setting a new one.

Draw lines freehand with the Pencil tool

Flash CS5’s Pen tool is great for certain situations, but if you prefer the intuitive feel of freehand drawing or want to create more natural or rough artwork, consider using the Pencil tool.

Each of the Pencil tool’s three modes provides a different level of smoothing, so even if your hand isn’t the steadiest, the Pencil tool compensates by automatically smoothing out lines or curves while you create them.

Select the Pencil tool and choose the appropriate smoothing mode using the selector in the lower-right corner of the Tools panel:

  • Straighten: Forces lines to the nearest straight line; perfect for drawing or tracing straight edges or boxy outlines.

  • Smooth: Smoothes out lines or curves to the next closest perfect curve.

  • Ink: Provides less smoothing and keeps lines and curves as natural as possible.

If your shape is more diverse than one mode can handle, you can switch modes as needed.