You can apply the basic
transform commands to any element in the Flash authoring environment,
but it is important to know that any transformations applied to symbols,
groups, drawing objects, or text blocks are saved in the Info panel
even if they are deselected and then reselected later. This enables you
to easily revert these items to their original appearance. The transform
settings for primitive shapes, on the other hand, are reset to the
default values in the Info panel as soon as they are deselected. This
means that while a primitive shape is actively being modified, you can
revert to the original appearance, but as soon as you apply a change and
deselect the shape, its modified appearance will be considered original
the next time you select it. As shown in Figure 1, there are various ways to access the transform commands available in Flash.
Figure 1. The
various ways to access transform commands in Flash — the Transform panel
(lower left), the Modify Transform submenu (center), and the Free
Transform tool (right)
1. The Transform panel
The Transform panel (Ctrl+T/+T)
includes value fields for horizontal and vertical scale percentages,
degrees of rotation, and degrees of vertical and horizontal skew. You
can use these fields for visual reference or as a way to enter precise
transform values. The Transform panel also includes two important
The Copy and Apply
Transform button is used to duplicate the selected item with all
transformations included. When you select this button, you may not
notice that anything has happened to your selected item — this is
because Flash places the duplicate exactly on top of the original. To
see both the original and the duplicate, drag the duplicate to a new
position in the Document window.
Reset button reverts a transformed symbol, group, or text field to its
original appearance and returns all values in the Transform panel to the
default settings. You can also achieve this by choosing Modify => Transform => Remove Transform. If you want to remove only the most recently applied modification, use Edit => Undo (Ctrl+Z /+Z).
2. The Modify Transform menu
The commands found in the application menu under Modify =>
Transform enable you to choose specific combinations of transform
options as well as a couple of "shortcuts" for commonly needed
modifications. Special note should be taken of the two commands that are
unique to the application menu:
Rotate 90 degrees CW or Rotate 90 degrees CCW:
Used to rotate any selected items by a half-turn in the chosen
direction (clockwise or counterclockwise) around the central axis point
of the selection.
You can also use shortcut
keys to rotate any selected item in 90-degree increments. To rotate an
item 90 degrees clockwise, use Shift+Ctrl+9/Shift++9. To rotate an item 90 degrees counterclockwise, use Shift+Ctrl+7/Shift++7.
Flip Vertical or Flip Horizontal: Used to place the item in a mirrored position either on the vertical axis (calendar flip) or the horizontal axis (book flip).
3. The Free Transform tool
The Free Transform tool
(Q), available directly from the Tools panel, enables you to apply
transform commands dynamically with various arrow icons. These icons
appear as you position the pointer over the control points or handles of
the selected item. You can also invoke various transform states from
the contextual menu. Although the position of these arrow icons can vary
with the position of the pointer, they provide a consistent indication
of what transformation will be applied from the closest available
handle. To finish any transformation, simply deselect the item by
clicking outside of the current selection area.
This familiar arrow indicates that all currently selected items can be
dragged together to a new location in the Document window.
Axis point or transformation point:
By default, this circle marks the center of shapes as the axis for most
transformations or animation. By dragging the point to a different
location, you can define a new axis or transformation point for
modifications applied to the item. To return the axis point to its
default location, double-click the axis point icon.
This arrow is generally available on any side of an item between
transformation points. By clicking and dragging the outline, you can
skew the shape in either direction indicated by the arrows.
This arrow is generally available near any corner of an item. By
clicking and dragging, you can rotate the item clockwise or
counterclockwise around the transform axis. Note that if you position
the arrow directly over the closest corner handle, the Rotate arrow is
usually replaced with the Scale Corner arrow. To rotate around the
opposite corner point without moving the axis point, press the Alt
(Option) key while dragging. To constrain rotation to 45-degree
increments, press Shift while dragging.
Scale Side arrow:
This arrow is available from any handle on the side of an item.
Clicking and dragging scales the item larger or smaller, in one
direction only, relative to the transform axis.
Scale Corner arrow:
This arrow appears only on the corner handles of an item and is used to
evenly scale the item larger or smaller, in all directions from the
transform axis. To constrain the aspect ratio of the shape, press Shift
4. Transforming shapes, symbols, text, and groups
shows how a symbol (or drawing object) and a shape appear differently
after they have been modified, deselected, and then reselected with the
Free Transform tool. The symbol (left) displays transform handles that
are aligned with the originally modified item, and the values of the
transformation settings are preserved in the Transform panel. The shape
(right), however, displays transform handles aligned to default values
unrelated to the original modifications, and the values in the Transform
panel are reset to their defaults.
Figure 2. The
Free Transform handles and Transform panel settings that appear for a
symbol or drawing object (left) and for a simple shape (right) that have
been reselected after an initial modification
4.1. Free Transform limit options
The first two options in the Tools panel for the Free Transform tool (shown in Figure 1)
are toggles to limit the modifications that can be applied to a
selected item. It can sometimes be easier to use the Free Transform tool
with more specific behavior. When the Rotate and Skew button or the
Scale button is toggled on, all other modifications are excluded.
The Rotate and Skew
toggle protects the selected item from being scaled accidentally while
you're rotating or skewing it. This Tools panel option is equivalent to
choosing Modify => Transform => Rotate and Skew from the application menu.
The Scale toggle protects the
selected item from all other transformations while it is being sized
larger or smaller. This Tools panel option is equivalent to choosing
Modify => Transform => Scale from the application menu.
4.2. Free Transform special shape options
The last two options in the
Tools panel for the Free Transform tool — Distort and Envelope — are not
available for symbols, groups, or text fields. However, when you're
transforming drawing objects or primitive shapes, you can use these two
options to create complex modifications not easily achieved with other
Remember that you can
access the raw shapes in a group or symbol by entering Edit mode. You
can also convert text fields into shapes by applying the Break Apart
Distort works by widening
or narrowing the sides of the item, or stretching out the corners. This
transform option does not bend or warp the shape; it allows sides of the
shape to be scaled individually. To apply Distort, first select a shape
with the Free Transform tool in the Tools panel, and turn on the
Distort toggle in the Options area of the Tools panel. You can then
click and drag handles on the sides or corners of the item to stretch or
compress individual sides. This is equivalent to selecting a shape with
the Selection tool and choosing Modify => Transform => Distort from the application menu or selecting Distort from the contextual menu.
You can also apply the Distort option to a shape that has been selected with the Free Transform tool by pressing Control ()
while dragging a side or corner handle. To taper a shape or move two
adjoining corner points an equal distance simultaneously, press Shift
while dragging any corner handle with the Free Transform tool.
shows an original shape being modified with the Distort option (left),
and the final shape with distort handles, as they appear when the shape
is reselected (right).
The Envelope option
enables you to work with control points and handles much the same way
you would when editing lines or shapes with the Subselection tool. The
powerful difference is that the Envelope can wrap around the outside of
multiple items so that the control points and handles curve, scale,
stretch, or warp all the lines and shapes contained within the Envelope
Figure 3. Free Transform applied to a shape, using the Distort option
To apply the Envelope, first select a shape or multiple shapes with the
Free Transform tool and then toggle on the Envelope option in the Tools
panel. The Envelope offers a series of control points and tangent
handles. The square points are used to scale and skew the shape(s),
whereas the round points are actually handles used to control the curve
and warp of the shape(s). You can also access the Envelope option by
selecting the shapes you want to transform and choosing Modify => Transform => Envelope from the application menu, or by selecting Envelope from the contextual menu.
shows an original shape being modified with the Envelope option (left),
and the final shape with Envelope handles, as they appear when the
shape is reselected (right).
Figure 4. Free Transform applied to a shape, using the Envelope option