Understanding Key Frames in Adobe Flash

Before I begin, let me warn you that Adobe Flash is, by no means, an easy program to work with, let alone master. That being said, the projects you can create are amazing and will infinitely add to the quality of your website. Plus, the simpler projects aren’t too bad to complete once you understand one of the most basic concepts of Adobe Flash; keyframes.

When I started working with flash, despite the tutorials I watched, I did not truly grasp keyframes, the different types, or what they did, but possessing an understanding of these things will help you learn flash much more quickly.

Let’s start with some definitions:

Keyframe– insert a keyframe to mark a change in the instance of a symbol or the property of the symbol. For example, you would insert a keyframe to add some sort of ActionScript (Code that can create interactivity, etc.) or to change the property–i.e. the color, size, etc., of the symbol. You can also use keyframes to insert motion tweens that will allow you to change the position of the symbol and create movement.

Blank Keyframe– insert a blank keyframe as a placeholder for a keyframe you plan to insert later or for a frame that you intentionally plan to leave blank.

To insert either type of keyframe, simply click Insert–>Timeline–>Keyframe (or Blank Keyframe).

Now that you know what they are, here’s some helpful tips about keyframes that I wish I would have known when first learning flash.

Hint #1:  You can use the same keyframe to mark multiple changes. Initially, I thought that I had to insert a new keyframe for everything. I inserted one for a change in position, one for a change in color, etc., until I had many keyframes all lined up next to each other, which reminds me of…

Hint #2: You can use the same keyframe to mark a shift in multiple symbols. Although you will generally use different layers for different symbols, if you have two symbols in the same layer, you can use the same keyframe for both. This will also help you avoid having too many keyframes, which leads me to…

Hint #3: Do not insert keyframes right next to each other. Having keyframes so close can create jumps in your project, particularly when the frame speed is relatively fast. And finally…

Hint #4: Do not forget to end with keyframes. Obviously you will need to stop the movement, or the fade, or whatever effect, eventually, so make sure to insert another keyframe to signify that the change will stop. This is very important when using motion tweens and ActionScripts. In fact, ActionScripts will not even work if you do not insert a stop keyframe.

Now that you have this new knowledge, apply it! Play around in flash, but make sure to remember my tips and tricks. It will save  you some time and plenty of frustration when starting your project.


Good luck!


~ by stacyteierle on December 9, 2011.

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