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Adobe Flash Catalyst CS5 : Grouping and transforming

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8/8/2012 3:20:35 PM
Most artwork is made from a collection of smaller overlapping parts. In fact, some artwork includes hundreds, even thousands, of smaller brush strokes or paths. You can make your life a little easier by grouping the related parts of an object so that you can work with them as a single unit.

The following are a few benefits of grouping objects:

  • Grouping protects the integrity of the drawing by keeping its parts in their correct position relative to its other parts.

  • Grouping creates a nicely organized Group object in the Layers panel. You can rename the group in the Layers panel for better organization.

    Tip

    If your drawings include lots of smaller parts or paths, you can group them, select the group, and use the Heads-Up Display (HUD) to create an optimized graphic.


  • Grouped objects have their own set of properties in the Properties panel, which makes it easier to size, position, and transform the drawing. For example, you can change its opacity, rotate the drawing, or apply filters.

  • You can use the Select tool to select, transform, size, and position the group as a single unit.

  • You can always select the parts within a group by using the Direct Select tool, or by selecting their individual rows in the Layers panel.

Group objects

The panel you’re creating includes the rounded Panel Header and Header Overlay rectangles. You’ve already aligned these objects perfectly, so let’s go ahead and group them. That’ll make it easier to position them at the top of the panel. While we’re at it, let’s also group the ellipse and lines used to make the close button. This will make rotating, sizing, and positioning these parts a lot easier too.

1.
Select the Panel Header and Header Overlay rectangles.

2.
Choose Modify > Group.

The two gradient rectangles are grouped and share one set of selection handles.

3.
In the Layers panel, rename the group Panel Header.

4.
Select the Ellipse shape and the two lines.

5.
Choose Modify > Group.

6.
In the Layers panel, rename the group Close.

Transform shapes

Let’s use the Transform tool to rotate the close button and turn the plus sign into an X for “close.”

1.
In the Layers panel, select the Close group.

2.
Select the Transform (Rotate) tool in the Tools panel.

Transform handles appear around the group.

3.
Position the pointer over the selected shapes.

The pointer changes to the Transform tool.

Note

You can also use the transform tool to resize or rotate other objects, such as a bitmap image or vector drawing that you’ve imported.

4.
Drag to rotate the selected shapes by 45 degrees.

The Rotation value changes in the Properties panel.

5.
In the Properties panel, make sure the Rotation value is exactly 45 or -45 to turn the crossed lines into an X.

Size and position objects

With our shapes grouped, we can move and size them as single drawings. Let’s start by putting the header at the top of the panel, just inside the outline of the panel background. After that, we’ll reduce the size of the close button and place it where it belongs, at the top of the panel.

1.
Using the Select tool (dark arrow), drag the grouped Panel Header to position it at the top inside the Panel Background rectangle.

2.
Select the Close group in the Layers panel.

3.
Hold down the Shift key, then drag a corner selection handle to reduce the size of the Close group. Make it small enough to fit in the upper-right corner of the panel header. It doesn’t need to be exact.

Tip

You can press the arrow keys to move an object 1 pixel at a time. Holding down Shift when you press the arrow keys moves the object 10 pixels at a time.

4.
Position the Close group in the upper-right corner of the panel.

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