FOTD 17: Flash 8 – Fireworks Import

I do a lot of asset generation in Fireworks, and often these assets are headed towards Flash. In Studio MX 2004, there were a few hitches in that workflow, primarily in that any blend modes and effects needed to be rasterized, and vector paths from Fireworks always showed up in Flash as grouped objects. If you follow a similar workflow, you’ll be glad to hear that things have shored up here quite a bit in Flash 8.

First and foremost, I’ve gotten rather accustomed to the Effects in Fireworks, primarily the Drop Shadow filter (which gets used constantly for both subtle and not-so-subtle effects). When importing a Fireworks PNG with a single object and it’s applied Drop Shadow effect into Flash MX 2004, you had the not-so-enviable choice of either rasterizing the entire object and effect (losing editability) or ignoring the effect entirely (and requiring you to recreate it within Flash).

In Flash 8, however- many of the Fireworks effects are supported natively, and you’ll be presented with a slightly different dialog box when attempting to import a PNG from Fireworks:

import_dialog.jpg
The new Fireworks PNG Import options (in Flash 8)

As you can see, you now have the option to import the entire file as a movie clip (retaining layers and blend modes), or import the file into a new layer in the current scene. You can have Flash 8 rasterize the file (as in previous versions), or keep your Fireworks objects fully editable (much preferred, in my opinion). Text can be handled separately as well- either rasterizing right away or maintaining it’s editability in Flash. Tons of options are available, you may just find yourself using Fireworks a lot more now than you have in the past. ;-)

So in a nutshell, a Fireworks object with a Drop Shadow applied looks like this in Fireworks 8’s property inspector:

fireworks_drop_shadow.jpg

… and after importing to Flash 8, the Drop Shadow appears as so:

flash_drop_shadow.jpg

Now of course not all of the Fireworks Effects are supported in Flash 8- this is the list of supported effects (and how they map to Flash 8’s filters):

  • Drop Shadow
    (maps directly to a Flash Drop Shadow Filter)
  • Solid Shadow
    (maps to a Flash Drop Shadow Filter with the Blur X/Y radius at 1)
  • Inner Shadow
    (maps to a Flash 8 Drop Shadow Filter with ‘Inner’ checked)
  • Blur
    (maps to a Flash 8 Blur Filter with the Blur X/Y radius at 1)
  • Blur More
    (maps to a Flash 8 Blur Filter with the Blur X/Y radius at 1)
  • Gaussian Blur
    (the standard Flash 8 Blur Filter)
  • Adjust Color Brightness
    (maps to the Flash 8 Adjust Color Filter)
  • Adjust Color Contrast
    (maps to the Flash 8 Adjust Color Filter)

Any other Effects in Fireworks will be either rasterized or ignored when imported to Flash 8- but knowing how these map to one another will greatly help you set up your Fireworks files for best Flash import, the new importer is certainly a better option than either rasterizing or dropping entirely your Fireworks effects.

As Flash MX 2004 didn’t support blend modes, there was never a direct option for importing Fireworks objects you’ve layered in this respect, and you again needed to rasterize it first, losing any editability. In Flash 8, however (which does support blend modes), you’ll have much less hassles in this respect, as blend modes are maintained when importing your Fireworks PNGs. But as Fireworks supports a LOT more blend modes than Flash 8, these are the key blend modes you can use in Fireworks and still keep intact/unrasterized when importing to Flash.

  • Darken
  • Multiply
  • Lighten
  • Screen
  • Overlay
  • Hard Light
  • Additive
    (Maps to Flash 8’s Add blend mode)
  • Subtractive
    (Maps to Flash 8’s Subtract blend mode)
  • Difference
  • Invert
  • Erase

This small update to Flash 8 should prove to be very helpful indeed when comping in Fireworks, then moving your assets around between Studio apps- for example, slicing up a Fireworks comp for integration in Dreamweaver, exporting its buttons/assets as individual PNG files for Flash development, and making sure you can maintain editability across the board. Enjoy- and I’ll see you tomorrow for FOTD #18!