If you need to create animated GIF banners (yep, they’re still around!), then Flash can be quite a simple way of making them if you’re familiar with the interface. However, a lot of people find the results very disappointing and are left with either very grainy GIFs, or whole sections missing or incorrectly rendered. So, how do you get the best results?
The first mistake people tend to make, is that they create their GIF by using File > Export > Export Image… and then selecting GIF. This doesn’t allow you to set enough options, so instead you should go to File > Publish Settings…, and then select GIF Image (.gif) – see the screenshot below.
Now select the GIF tab, and make sure you use the same settings as shown below:
The above settings show the following:
Dimensions: Select match movie so the GIF is the same size as the Flash stage
Playback: Select animated & loop continuously
Options: Select “optimize colors” and “smooth”
Transparent: Select Opaque 128
Palette Type: Adaptive
Max colours: Change this from the default of 255 to 99999
Using these settings you should now see a significant improvement to your animated GIFs. If they are still not great, then try this trouble shooting guide to see if you can resolve the problem.
- Photo quality
- If you’re using jpegs or photo elements in your GIF, make sure they are not being compressed by Flash. Right click on the image in the library, and click Properties. Make sure you have compression set at Photo (JPEG) with a custom quality of 100, and set smoothing to false. If you use smoothing or lossless compression, Flash will create a bit of a mess with your assets.
- Minimise gradients
- Definitely minimise gradients, sometimes these render ok but generally they’re not going to look nice when you publish them as a GIF
- Keep it simple
- Where possible try to avoid effects like drop shadows, transparencies, special effects etc as these don’t also render very well. Experiment and see what works, but generally you want to minimise these if you can
- If you use transparency, change the Publish settings of “Transparent” to alpha and increase to 255
- Flash doesn’t like text when publishing as a GIF. If your text is broken, distorted or not even showing then you need to break up text into vector shapes. To do this select your text and keep pressing CTRL + B to break it apart until your text is now vector shapes.