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Using Symbols and the Library in Adobe Flash CS4

#26. Breaking Apart Instances

As you’ve seen in #23 and #25, there are several techniques for modifying individual instances without changing the original symbol. Those techniques are limited, however. What if you really want to change the appearance of an instance—for example, by cutting a hole in it or changing its shape?

The answer is, you can’t—at least not while the object you want to change is an instance. But it’s possible to break the connection between an instance and a symbol, turning the instance into an independent, editable object. To do so, select the instance and choose Modify > Break Apart (Figure 26).

Figure 26

Figure 26 On the left, an instance of a symbol; on the right, the same instance after being broken apart. The dot screen indicates that it’s now an editable object.

Keep in mind that using the Break Apart command has some negative consequences. When you break apart an instance, any color effects that you’ve applied to it disappear (since color effects work only on instances of symbols). Once an instance has been broken apart, it will no longer reflect changes you make to its parent symbol. And, most significantly, breaking apart an instance increases your movie’s file size, since the former instance now contains real information instead of pointing to a symbol in the library.

Think twice before you break apart an instance, because the process isn’t reversible. Turning an editable object into an instance of an existing symbol isn’t possible, although you can convert the object into a new symbol (see #22).

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