How to Import Other File Formats into Flash CS5 - dummies

By Jennifer Smith, Christopher Smith, Fred Gerantabee

Your choice of file formats to use in Flash CS5 is based on which applications you commonly use. Adobe Flash Creative Suite 5 supports many popular file formats and industry standard Photoshop and Illustrator file formats, giving you lots of flexibility.

Flash doesn’t generate bitmap artwork, though, so you may ask yourself which format you should use to save photos, graphics, and type created in other applications before you import them into Flash.

Flash supports and imports a number of file formats, including:

  1. Illustrator (.ai)

  2. Photoshop (.psd)

  3. Encapsulated PostScript (.eps)

  4. Flash SWF (.swf)

  5. JPEG

  6. GIF

  7. PNG

Flash, like many web-centric applications, works at a screen resolution of 72 dpi. Images at higher (or lower) resolutions are conformed to screen resolution upon import, and their sizes on the Flash stage may be different from what you expect.

Vector graphics, such as illustrations and typography, can be created in applications such as Adobe Illustrator CS5. Artwork that contains layers should be saved natively in Illustrator (.ai) format because Flash can import and re-create those layers exactly as they were in the original document without a loss of quality.

Bitmap graphics, such as photos, can be saved and imported in a variety of formats. If you’re working with a layered Photoshop document, you can import the .psd document directly into Flash by using the Photoshop Import panel.

As with the Illustrator Import panel, you can view and choose how to distribute layers into Flash. Layer effects, such as drop shadows, are maintained and, where possible, converted into their Flash equivalents.

Other popular formats include JPEG, GIF, and PNG:

  1. JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) can reproduce the wide range of color and detail necessary to reproduce photographs while keeping file size reasonable. For that reason, it’s the best choice for photocentric documents, like the photo here.


  2. GIF (Graphics Interchange Format, a lightweight format with a limited color gamut (range) of 256 colors, is a good choice for reproducing crisp type, logos, and titling like the logo shown here. GIF also supports transparency, so it’s a good choice when the graphics you need to import must be placed discretely against varying backgrounds.


  3. The PNG (Portable Network Graphics) format has capabilities that cross over between those of JPEGs and GIFs. PNG also supports transparency and opacity. Between the two PNG types (PNG-8 and PNG-24), you can reproduce both simple graphics and photos with depth and accuracy.

Ultimately, your choice of format depends on which type of graphics you’re working with and how they work in context with the rest of your Flash movie.