Lesson 4: Working with Text in Adobe Animate | Animating with Masks

Approx. 9-12 hrs.
The goals of this lesson are
to develop an understanding of:

How to add and edit type in Adobe Animate.
How to use the colour fill tools and apply colour effects to type.
How to animate type.
How to animate using masks.


Type in Adobe Animate
Another of Adobe Animate's strengths is its extensive support for working with type. Adobe Animate supports the major type formats on Mac & PC and mobile devices.

Once your type is in Adobe Animate you can shape it, tweak it and refine it with pixel-perfect accuracy. You can also animate it; you can give it life! (note: the file size of the animation shown below is only 3KB. Grab the .fla 17KB if you want to see how it's put together)


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Other ways to deploy type on the web
If you don't have Adobe Animate then you can use HTML type. HTML type doesn't offer the same level of adjustment as Adobe Animate but Google Webfonts and Webkit are two technologies that are making it easy to deploy all sorts of typefaces on your website. 2011 was the year when this technology matured to a point where web designers could access this expanding library of typefaces.

Working with type in Adobe Animate (and how to make it look good)
Using Adobe Animate's text tool and colour and gradient fills, it is possible to produce impressive effects with type. In addition, adding tweening to type can produce an eye catching dynamic "personality" to your message.

In this lesson we will firstly see how to manipulate fills, strokes and gradients and then add dynamic type effects. Note: "type" = "text" in the Adobe Animate environment. These terms can be used interchangeably, they mean the same thing here.

The Text Tool
You can find the text tool in your toolbox. It's represented by the large letter T. In a similar fashion to other tools in Adobe Animate, text tool options appear in the Properties Inspector (see screenshot below).

If you've used similar graphics and word processing software, most of the options will be familiar to you.

Working with Text:
With Static Text selected (see top of Properties Panel), if you single-click on the stage with the text-tool, and type some text, you will notice that the text box appears as a border and that it has a round handle on the upper right hand corner.

This means that the text area is un-constrained, and the text will continue to expand along the same line for as long as you keep typing.

If you hit a line-feed (the ENTER key) the text will flow down onto the next line down.

However, if you click and drag the text ool instead you may notice that the handle becomes a square, and by dragging this handle you can set the width you want for the text to be constrained by; in effect, setting the paragraph width.

Further adjustments are possible in the Properties Inspector; allowing you to control indent, line spacing, letter spacing, kerning pairs, left and right margins and anti-aliasing.

Note# If you need more accurate control of kerning pairs (eg. capitals W & T together usually need adjustment) then simply split the word into two and move the second closer using your cursor key. Or break your text apart and treat the letters as shapes and adjust them that way. You can't use the type tool on this broken text though; it's a "one-way trip".

Static Text | Dynamic Text | Input Text

screen grab cs4 of text properties boxIn this lesson we are only dealing with Static Text. Dynamic and Input Text options offer more advanced features requiring some basic programming. Our Cert4IDM & Diploma IDM students cover this in greater detail on-campus, however for our purposes we only need to focus on Static Text.

Input text is used for forms that a user can fill out. When the Adobe Animate movie is run, the text they type in is displayed and also treated as a variable that can be stored and processed.

Dynamic text is similar to Input text but works in reverse. You can populate a Dynamic Text field with data pulled from an external source such as a database.

Making text open up a web page or email client
This couldn't be easier! Simply highlight the text and in the Properties Inspector go to options and add your Link in the form of http://www etc. for a web site OR if you want to trigger the user's email client, use mailto:jsmith@mail.com

Using Fills and Gradients
Text can be filled with a colour, gradient or even a bitmap (eg. a photo or texture) but it first needs to be "broken apart" twice to turn the letters into shapes. Select the text and then hit Ctrl-b, cmd-b mac) twice to do this. Once to break the word into separate letters, again to break the letters into shapes.

Note: You lose access to the text edit tools after you do this so save your file first so you can revert back if anything goes wrong.

You can use the "color" mixer panel window > colour, which allows you to make adjustment to a gradient (see above).

Drag across the letters with your paint bucket to determine length and direction of the gradient.

Note: To ensure colour unity avoid using gradient colours that are extreme. The example shown uses a deep blue to mid-blue hue combination.

The next task allows you to explore this further.


Learning Task: Bringing Type to Life | Animate some text

In this task you're encouraged to explore Adobe Animate's text tool as well as animation techniques such as zooms, animated drop shadows, blurs, scaling and translation all with the aim of giving your type realistic movment.

Watch the Videos
In our Google Drive Adobe Animate Folder are a series of four tutorial videos.

  • type1,type2,type3 and type4

...that will guide you through this task. They're about 5-8 mins each.

Watch these to give you an idea of what you can do to type using Adobe Animate then try your hand at animating some type. For inspiration, check out "Kinetic Typography" on Vimeo.


  • Create a new document 640 x 360, 20 fps.
  • Theme? It's up to you. What about a business name or popular catchphrase?
  • Duration | 100 frames min.

Try to incorporate gravity, momentum or collision into your animation. eg. "write" might be a keyframe animation where the letters appear magically as if handwritten...or "jump" might be a sequence where the word crouches, jumps, recoils, then trembles after landing.

  • This is an opportunity to practice those techniques and experiment.
  • No imported artwork is permitted. Created all the artwork you need using Adobe Animate.

Submitting :
Save your .fla file somewhere safe then submit the .fla for feedback via email.

Stuck? Find the answers in our 2D Animation Forum
If you get stuck, use the forum or search online in Google or YouTube for Adobe Animate animation tutorials. If you find something you think would be useful for your classmates share it in the forum.

Chris Adams 2017


Animating with Masks

An easy way to create compelling animation is to use masks and Adobe Animate does this very well.
The trick here is that the mask can be animated AND the artwork can be animated. Combine the two and you can create some wild and very engaging effects.

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Learning Task: Animating with Masks | A Burglar in the Kitchen

Download and watch the masking1.mp4 tutorial video (85MB, 8 mins) available from our Google Drive folder. Then try to reproduce the effect. Once you're happy with the result use this technique for...

A Burglar in the Kitchen
Now see if you can mimic the same effect using your kitchen disaster scenario.

  • Duration : 100 frames @ 20 fps
  • Stage Size : Same as your kitchen disaster task

Hint: To darken your entire scene on the lower layer, select it all, convert to a symbol then use Properties Inspector to "shade" the symbol with a quantity of black.

Submission Guide
Submit your .fla for feedback via email.

Masks | The Predator Effect
Superimpose two identical images on separate layers (make the bottom image slightly larger) then define a shape to mask off the uppermost layer . If you use an animated mask to do this, the effect is "wild" and mimics the effect from the movie "Predator".

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Adobe Animate Player.

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Learning Task: The Predator Effect

Download and watch the predatormask.mp4 (120MB, 7mins) tutorial video from our Google Drive folder then try to reproduce the effect with your own photo. Experiment with using shape tweening on the mask shape.

  • Stage : 640x360, 20 fps
  • Duration : 100 frames

Submission Guide
Submit your .fla via email for feedback.



This lesson introduced working wth type in Adobe Animate as well as animation based on masks specifically moving masks.

If you're after further resources related to masking and a quick intro to "3D in Adobe Animate", something we don't cover here, then check out Derek Banas of Cartoon Solutions in this tutorial on animating with masks in Adobe Animate and in the same video, animating using the Motion Tween technique, animating using the 3D tool, adding a custom path for your item to follow and finally animating using an expanding mask.