Flash illustrations

Although there are many tools for expressing creativity through illustration, I noticed that some people are most comfortable using Flash from Adobe Creative Suite collection.

It is true that once you get used to Flash drawing tools it apears more simple then any other tool. It has very intuitive handling of strokes, fills gradients, automatic stroke intersections, drawing priomitives, importing .ai graphics, using layers, etc. etc.

I personaly use flash for initial drawing. Anyhow, Flash .swf format is not standard format for other applications, and also is not interchangeable. Once done you need to do some conversion.

Flash has an option to export finished drawing to .ai (which comes in CS package) and from there you can export it to .eps, .jpg and other DT required interchangeable formats.

Now there is a slight problem. While all previous Adobe applications cooperate just fine with each other it seems that there are still some problems with applications that are added to Adobe packages after Adobe's acquisition of Macromedia. One of them unfortunately is Flash.

Simple drawings with solid fill can be exported from Flash to .ai and then successfuly opened with Adobe Illustrator for further processing.

But! If your drawing uses gradients and some other elements file becomes corrupted for some reason. Actually, I believe that .ai export is just good but kind of incompatible with Illustrator requirements. You get some strange errors about missing parameters or attributes which obviously points to uncompatible Flash export routine. This is obvious bug that still isn't solved in any of CS series

I spend hours searching for a solution to this problem over internet, with little success. And finnaly there was an idea, or better say override to that problem.

If you use any of CS packages (means, you have installed Suite) here is what you can do:

1. Make your illustration in Flash CS any way you like. Notice that maximum usable area of your flash is 2880x2880 pixels.

2. After you save your work (.fla) publish it to get the .swf file

3. Using your Windows explorer (or other program you use to browse your folders) find your .swf file and run it by double clicking

4. When your image opens in Flash player, use File/Print to print your image to .pdf format (notice: if you have complete Suite installed then probably Adobe PDF is added as your virtual printer. Selecting it as a printer it will actualy create a pdf file of your image instead of printing on paper. If you dont have Adobe PDF yoou may have another virtual PDF printer so you can give it a try, I cant say if it will work in this case)

5. Open this your .pdf file in Illustrator and there you are. You may play a bit with artboard and size to get higher resolution while saving/exporting to .ai/.eps/.jpg

This complete process actually keeps your illustration vectorized even you go through .pdf format. What is important that same file exported from Flash to .ai directly will be corrupted and you cannot use it in Illustrator.

While we wait for adobe to fix this issue this override can be a great day saver.

Hope it may help someone.

Photo credits: Aleksandar Horvat.

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November 03, 2010


Thanks for sharing the information.

November 03, 2010


Aleksander, I do not know very much of the making of illustrations, but I do know that your new illustrations are very good. Wish you luck with them,

November 03, 2010


You have great images, I love the ones with trains. I wish you many sales and good luck.

November 02, 2010


@Robertoch - I never did a single image in Illustrator. My little figures are done in Swift 3D. Only vector illustrations in my portfolio at the moment are helmet and helicopter presented here. I have 15 other more complex files on review right now so if they will be aproved you can check later.

November 02, 2010


Ok, now I see the point. I tried myself Flash, and I think is great, but a little tricky for me. But I don't know the program very well. Anyway, your blog is interesting, and your illustrations are great. Are they made in Flash, or illustrator?

November 02, 2010


@Robertoch - exactly as you said. I am working with Flash proffesionaly from version 3 (not CS3 but 3) and I am used to it better then to Illustrator. I like how Flash handles drawing, and simplicity of the tools. I respect Illustrator as "king" of vector drawing, but Flash was initialy developed by Macromedia with different aproach to drawing, tools. So the point is that maybe someone is in same situation as me. At the end we need .eps or .ai for DT. Flash have an option do export drawings in .ai for everyone who wants to make illustrations in Flash. Since there is a bug in this process this article may help someone from getting nuts.

November 02, 2010


Hi there. Why to create a vector in Flash, later to make it pdf, and finaly to open it in Illustrator just to save it as EPS? I don't get it, sorry. Maybe I am wrong, but I think that is more simple to do it from scratch in Illustrator, save it in Illustrator etc. Tell me your point. You said that you have Illustrator installed. It is easier to create in Flash, maybe?

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