How to Align and Distribute Artwork in Flash CS5 - dummies

By Jennifer Smith, Christopher Smith, Fred Gerantabee

If you need to line up or space out several graphics on the Adobe Flash Creative Suite 5 stage, you can use Flash CS5’s handy Align panel to assist you. The Align panel lets you line up, distribute, or space two or more objects relative to each other or the stage.

To experiment with the Align options, create a new layer, draw a shape on the stage, and place it on the bottom below any graphics you already have on the stage. Then follow these steps to align and distribute two or more graphics:

  1. Select a graphic on the stage and duplicate it two to three times by choosing Edit→Copy and then choosing Edit→Paste.

  2. Loosely position the graphics across the stage from left to right.

  3. Select all the new copies you created with the Selection tool and launch the Align panel by choosing Window→Align.

    The first row contains all the Align buttons, broken down into two groups: vertical and horizontal.

  4. Locate the Align to Stage check box at the bottom of the Align panel and uncheck it.

    You can see in the next section what effect this step has.

  5. Click the Align Vertical Center button to align the selected graphics horizontally by their top edge.

    The graphics reposition themselves so that they’re all flush by the top edge. Align selected graphics horizontally with each other with the buttons under the Align row. The second row contains buttons that evenly distribute graphics vertically or horizontally by their center, top, or bottom edges.

  6. Click the middle button of the second group (Distribute Horizontal Center) to distribute graphics based on their center points.


The Align to Stage check box (located on the bottom of the Align panel) can be selected so that any distribution uses the stage as a point of reference. The distribute options are useful if you want to distribute objects across the full width of the stage regardless of their distance from each other.

To distribute objects across the stage, follow these steps:

  1. Leave selected the graphics you just distributed on the stage. If they aren’t selected, use the Selection tool to reselect them by dragging a selection area around them on the stage.

  2. Locate and select the Align to Stage check box on the Align panel.

  3. Click any horizontal distribution button in the Distribute row.

    The graphics redistribute and spread across the full width of the stage.