Creating a Motion tween animation

Before you begin

 Before you begin animation, understand the following concepts:



Before working with motion tweens, understand use of the Timeline and editing properties. You can edit individual property keyframes on Stage, in the Property inspector, or using the redesigned Motion Editor.

Animate tweens only symbol instances and text fields. All other object types are wrapped in a symbol when you apply a tween to them. The symbol instance can contain nested symbols, which can themselves be tweened on their own timelines.

The minimal building block in a tween layer is a tween span. A tween span in a tween layer can contain only one symbol instance or text field. The symbol instance is called the target of the tween span. However, a single symbol can contain many objects.

Adding a second symbol or text field to the tween span replaces the original symbol in the tween. Use any of the following methods to change the target object of a tween:

  • Drag a different symbol from the library onto the tween span in the Timeline
  • Use the Modify > Symbol > Swap Symbol command.

You can delete the symbol from a tween layer without removing or breaking the tween. You can then add a different symbol instance to the tween later. You can also change the type of the target symbol or edit the symbol at any time.

When a tween contains motion, a motion path appears on the Stage. The motion path shows the position of the tweened object in each frame. You can edit the motion path on the Stage by dragging its control points. You cannot add a motion guide to a tween/inverse kinematics layer. 

See also

Components of motion tweens

Tween span:

  • Is a sequence of frames in the Timeline in which an object has one or more properties changed over time.
  • Motion tween span appears in the Timeline as a group of frames in a single layer with a  background color.
  • You can select the tween spans as a single object and drag them from one location in the Timeline to another, including to another layer.
  • You can animate only one object on the Stage in each tween span. This object is called the target object of the tween span.

Property keyframe:

  • Is a frame within a tween span where you explicitly define one or more property values for the tween target object.
  • These properties could include position, alpha (transparency), color tint, and so on.
  • Each defined property has its own property keyframes.
  • If you set more than one property in a single frame, then the property keyframes for each of those properties reside in that frame.
  • Use Motion Editor to view each property of a tween span and its property keyframes.
  • To choose which type of property keyframes to display in the Timeline from the tween span context menu, right-click any property keyframe and select View keyframes. 

Target object of a tween

A motion tween has a single object in a tween span called the tween's target object. There are several advantages to having a single target object in a tween:

  • You can save a tween as a preset for reuse. 
  • You can easily move the motion tweens on the Timeline (drag the tween span around) or on the Stage.
  • To apply a new instance to an existing tween:
    • Paste it onto a tween to swap it out
    • Drag a new instance from the Library
    • Use the Swap Symbol. 

Tweenable objects and properties

The types of objects on which you can apply a motion tween are movie clips, graphics and button symbols, and text fields. The properties of these objects that can be tweened includes:

  • 2D X and Y position
  • 3D Z position (movie clips only)

  • 2D rotation (around the z-axis)

  • 3D X, Y, and Z rotation (movie clips only): set the FLA file target as ActionScript 3.0 and Flash Player 10 or higher in the publish settings. Adobe AIR also supports 3D motion.

  • Skew X and Y

  • Scale X and Y

  • Color effects: includes alpha (transparency), brightness, tint, and advanced color settings. Color effects can be tweened only on symbols and TLF text. By tweening these properties, you can make objects appear to fade in or fade from one color to another. To tween a color effect on classic text, convert the text to a symbol.

  • Filter properties (filters cannot be applied to graphic symbols)

Creating a motion tween animation

You can create a motion tween using one of the following three methods:

  • Create a graphic or instance that you want to tween, and then right-click a frame and select Create Motion Tween.
  • Select the graphic or instance that you want to tween, and select Insert > Motion Tween from the main menu.
  • Create a graphic or instance that you want to tween, and then right-click the instance on the Stage and select Create Motion Tween.

Usage of ActionScript in animation is optional. 

Creating a Motion tween Animation

Tweening other properties with the Property inspector

Use the Create Motion Tween command to animate properties of a symbol instance or text field. The properties range from rotation, scale, transparency, or tint (symbols and TLF text only). For example, you can edit the alpha (transparency) property of a symbol instance to make it fade onto the screen. For a list of the properties you can animate with motion tweens, see Tweenable objects and properties.

  1. Select a symbol instance or text field on the Stage.

    If the selection contains other objects, or it contains multiple objects from the layer, Animate offers to convert it to a movie clip symbol.

  2. Choose Insert Motion Tween.

    If the “Convert selection to symbol for tween” dialog box appears, click OK to convert the selection into a movie clip symbol.

    When you apply a tween to an object that exists only in a single keyframe, the playhead moves to the last frame of the new tween. Otherwise the playhead does not move.

  3. Place the playhead in the frame of the tween span where you want to specify a property value.

    You can place the playhead in any other frame of the tween span. The tween starts with the property values in the first frame of the tween span, which is always a property keyframe.

  4. With the object selected on the Stage, set a value for a non-position property, such as alpha (transparency), rotation, or skew. Set the value with the Property inspector or with one of the tools in the Tools panel.

    The current frame of the span becomes a property keyframe.


    You can display different types of property keyframes in tween spans. Right-click (Windows) or Ctrl-click (Macintosh) a tween span and choose View Keyframes > property type from the context menu.

  5. Scrub the playhead in the Timeline to preview the tween on the Stage.

  6. To add more property keyframes, move the playhead to the desired frame in the span and set a value for the property in the Property inspector.

Adding a tween to an existing tween layer

You can add more tweens to an existing tween layer. Add more tweens to use fewer layers when creating Animate content with animation.

  1. Do one of the following:

    • Add a blank keyframe to the layer (Insert Timeline Blank Keyframe), add items to the keyframe, and then tween the items.
    • Create a tween on a separate layer and then drag the span to the desired layer.
    • Drag a static frame from another layer to the tween layer and then add a tween to an object in the static frame.
    • Alt-drag (Windows) or Option-drag (Macintosh) to duplicate an existing span from the same layer or a different layer.
    • Copy and paste a tween span from the same or different layer.
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