Personal and Professional Blog of Rich Hauck

Seeing walls differently (while outputting a vector PDF from a SWF)

by: Rich Hauck


I recently completed a piece for the Sprocket Mural Works show, “Seeing these walls differently, together”. Unlike the other contributing artists, I wanted to do something algorithmic–something computer-generated…So for kicks, I figured I’d revisit this pattern I did in Macromedia Flash (way back from 2003!):

flash pattern

I knew I wanted to output a vector file, and while I was considering P5.js or straight HTML5 canvas, I stuck with Adobe Animate CC. Of course, that didn’t prove to be an easy path, as Animate CC strips ActionScript 1.0’s onClipEvent (remember that?!) completely, so I couldn’t even see the code.

I dug into my bookshelf and installed an old copy of Flash CS6. It was a surreal trip down memory lane, as I found myself looking up ActionScript methods that I used to have memorized 10+ years ago. Sure, Flash whined about Java SE 6 (my laptop was running 8) and it crashed several times, but I was able to extract what I needed.


Here’s an early draft of the mural. I opted against this because I couldn’t imagine anyone painting all that transparency on a wall!

So, once I had a for loop generating the pattern and a script randomly choosing which card to display, I wanted to output the SWF to a PDF. I looked into PDFConverter, scanned Quora, and explored a few ActionScript libraries. I then started opening the SWF file in a browser and tried printing it as a PDF. Both Firefox and Safari output it as a screen capture (PNG). Chrome, on the other hand, gave me the vector file I wanted, with one little catch:


As you can see above, it distorts the vector images. This being my best shot, I tried different ways to publish the SWF from Animate, but it always yielded the same result.

I finally tried one more approach that got me the print. By opening the SWF file in the standalone Flash Player, I was able to do a File > Print that retained the curve quality. The final print is below.


It’s on exhibit at WITF (with a lot of other great pieces!) until June 30.

Categories:art Flash Illustration

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About Rich Hauck

Rich Hauck

I'm a creative technologist at Hauck Interactive, Inc. and an adjunct instructor at HACC. I live in Harrisburg, Pa. with my wife and three boys. I enjoy good coffee, Trappist beers, Orioles baseball, and good design.