Six Great Free Flash Extensions

by Michael James Williams on May 24, 2009 · 9 comments

in Articles,Flash IDE

I’m not a big fan of Flash’s built-in code editor, but I do love using it for drawing, design and animation.

There’s always room for improvement, however, which is where the Adobe Extension Manager comes in handy. Once you have that installed (check you get the right version) you can download MXP files, extensions that add extra abilities to Flash.

Here are my favourites.

1. Selection Tools

Flash’s pointer tool doubles as its rectangular selection tool, which means that if you try to select a rectangle inside a drawing, you end up dragging the fill instead:

screenshot

You can get around this by drawing a rectangle made out of lines, selecting the inside of the rectangle, and deleting the lines, but that’s messy and irritating.

Selection tools gives you a separate rectangular selection tool that avoids the problem entirely:

screenshot

It also includes a tool that selects a line (either vertical or horizontal) stretching across the entire image.

This extension is by Patrick Mineault, and can be found here at his old blog.

2. Animation Pencil

This records anything you draw to a series of keyframes. It’s silly, and fun. Here’s one I did just now:

Snapshot_R01.png
Click to play

It’s by psyark.jp; grab it from this page this page.

3. Frames-to-Symbol (and Symbol-to-Frames)

Have you ever spent ages working on a long, complicated animation, with multiple layers and symbols, on the main timeline, only to realise “oops, that should have been in a symbol”?

Is that just me?

Well, anyway, Frames-to-Symbol fixes that. You just select the layers and frames you want to put into a MovieClip, click the button, and it does all that irritating work for you. Made by FlashWhip; more info (and download link) here.

There’s also a sister extension that does the opposite, taking a MovieClip-based animation and moving its contents onto the main timeline. It’s called, not surprisingly, Symbol-to-Frames.

4. Queasy Tools

screenshot

This gives you an extra panel with shortcuts for common tasks. You can see what all the buttons do from the screenshot. The only problem is that the tool tip text gets covered up by the mouse pointer:

screenshot

Not a big deal, as it’s obvious what the buttons do by the icons.

Queasy Tools is by Justin Putney and can be downloaded from this page.

5. Kuler Panel for Flash CS3

screenshot

Do you use Adobe Kuler? It’s a web app for making colour themes. Naturally this is very useful if you’re trying to come up with a design.

This extension adds a panel that lets you browse these designs from within Flash, add swatches to the stage, and use the eyedropper to pick the colours. Flash CS4 does come with its own Kuler Panel; I’d be interested to hear how they compare.

It’s by Ben Pritchard of Pixelfumes, and is available here at his blog. He’s also written an article on how he created the panel, which is definitely worth a read if you want to have a go at making your own.

6. Pixel Tools

screenshot

This adds a set of pixel drawing tools to your toolbox. They all seem to work by drawing squares of “fill”. In the image above, I’ve turned on the grid to show how sharp the edges of the boxes are.

Rather than attempting to demonstrate these by drawing anything myself, I’ll just direct you to this awesome Flash animation that used them: Move Your Feet.

screenshot

This is another of Patrick Mineault’s extensions, and is available at his old blog, here.

More?

I found most of these extensions through Anipedia and the Adobe Flash Exchange.

Do you know of any great extensions that I missed? Please share them in the comments!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Snurre May 24, 2009 at 4:41 pm

The move your feet is from a Danish group called: Junior Senior (Wiki page on them). They actually make some quite nice music :P

Well anyway, thanks for all the extensions :)

Michael Williams May 24, 2009 at 5:01 pm

Good call, Snurre. I didn’t know they were Danish. I think rtil picked that song in particular because of the awesome pixel animation in the original video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfqL7bwx9fs

Snurre May 24, 2009 at 5:42 pm

Yeah, you’re probably right :)

I just tried out the 4 first extensions for CS4:

  • Selection tool works fine!
  • Animation pencil couldn’t install the first 10 times, but somehow I made it do it anyway, it seems to be working perfectly. (It was located under my rectangle/oval tool)
  • Frames to symbol works great! But his dublicate frame remover is bugged (works fine, but you need to restart flash after running the command.)
  • Queasy Tools works fine.
Michael Williams May 24, 2009 at 5:53 pm

Good to hear they worked (mostly) without a hitch :)

You can move the animation pencil (or other tools) by going to Edit > Customize Tools Panel.

samuvagyok May 28, 2009 at 3:46 pm

great collection, thanks for sharing!

Fernando May 29, 2009 at 12:29 pm

http://undervisning.monten.dk/undervisning/flash/pages/commands.html#s_20

This is a page I made some time ago. The explanation is in Danish, but the interface is in English. To download please click on Text Effect 1 on your left side of the screen, scroll down to the Download Commands icon and download the command. Do the same for Text Effect 2-4. They all work in CS3. In CS4 Text Effect 2 doesn’t.

How to:
Make a MovieClip with your text inside. Select the MovieClip and go to Commands > Text Effect (and no.). Set your settings. Click on OK and wait.
All the files used in the effect and a text file with all your settings are stored in a folder with the name you have chosen when running the effect. so if you don’t want it anymore, delete this folder. Your original MovieClip is not deleted.
There is no error handling, so you could actually put anything you like inside your MovieClip (at own risk).

Hope you guys can use this… and now back to Avoider Game Tutorial, part 3…

Thanks Michael for this great resource.

Michael Williams May 29, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Cheers, samuvagyok :)

Fernando, those effects are awesome! I just downloaded them and tested them out. They’re going to make creating splash screens so much easier. Thanks for making them :D

Gishatako November 19, 2009 at 10:08 pm

Uhm, the code for animation pencil is messed up

Michael Williams November 21, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Thanks, Gishatako; I’ve changed the link to one that still works.

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