Home / Articles / Animating Symbols

Animating Symbols

Chapter Description

In this sample chapter from Adobe Animate CC Classroom in a Book (2018 release), explore how to change almost any aspect of an object—position, color, transparency, size, rotation, and more—over time.

Creating Nested Animations

Often, an object that is animated on the Stage will have its own animation. For example, the wings of a butterfly moving across the Stage may flap as it moves. Or the alien that you swapped with the rocket ship could be waving his arms. These kinds of animations are called nested animations because they are contained inside the movie clip symbols. Movie clip symbols have their own timeline that is independent of the main Timeline.

In this example, you’ll give the alien his own independent movement so he can wave as he flies across the Stage.

Creating animations inside movie clip symbols

We’ll animate some of the symbols that make up the alien’s body to allow him to wave.

  1. In the Library panel, double-click the alien movie clip symbol icon.

    You are now in symbol-editing mode for the alien movie clip symbol. The alien appears in the middle of the Stage. In the Timeline, the parts of the alien are separated in layers.

  2. Select the Selection tool.

  3. Right-click the alien’s left arm and choose Create Motion Tween.


    Animate converts the current layer into a tween layer and inserts 1 second’s worth of frames so that you can begin to animate the instance.

  4. Select the Free Transform tool.

  5. Move the mouse pointer near the corner transformation handle until the cursor changes to the rotation icon. Drag the corner handle near the hand to rotate the arm upward to the alien’s shoulder height.


    A keyframe is inserted at the end of the motion tween. The left arm rotates smoothly from the resting position to the outstretched position.

  6. Move the red playhead back to frame 1.

  7. Now create a motion tween for the alien’s other arm. Right-click his right arm and choose Create Motion Tween.

    The current layer is converted into a tween layer, and 1 second’s worth of frames are inserted.

  8. Choose the Free Transform tool if it’s not selected already.

  9. As you did for the left arm, drag the corner transformation handle near the right hand to rotate the arm upward to the alien’s shoulder height.

    Animate inserts a keyframe at the end of the motion tween. The arm rotates smoothly from the resting position to the outstretched position.

  10. Select the last frame in all the other layers and insert frames (F5) so that the head, body, and feet all remain on the Stage for the same amount of time as the moving arms.

  11. Click the Scene 1 button in the Edit bar at the top of the Stage to exit symbol-editing mode.

    Your animation of the alien raising his arms is complete. Wherever you use the movie clip symbol, the alien’s nested animation will continue to play.

  12. Preview the animation by choosing Control > Test.

    Animate opens a window showing the exported animation. The alien moves along the motion path while the nested animation of his arms moving plays and loops.

  13. Save your project and close it. You’ll return to your previous animation in the next section.


There are currently no related articles. Please check back later.