Grassy Field:
Concept Study
         written by kirupa chinnathambi

As I was browsing through the forums, I noticed a really nice flash footer created by the moderator lostinbeta. In his footer, he has pictures of grass moving in response to the mouse. In short, the footer was cool and I wanted to create something like it! After a few hours of tinkering with Flash, I created something completely different (and CPU-intensive) that somehow ended up involving grass:

[ the above is an example of a grassy field created in Flash ]

If you are proficient with Flash, this tutorial will not teach you anything new or arcane. What you will learn is how to combine all of the bits and pieces of ActionScript you have accumulated into creating a nice animation. After all, isn't programming all about applying everything you know into a nice, final result?

If you are a beginner/intermediate user, dim the lights, strap on your seatbelt, and bring the popcorn. You are in for quite a ride through the dark alleys of Flash and beyond. Enough of me babbling, the tutorial starts now.

Creating a Grassy Field:
The following instructions will help teach you how to create an interactive, grassy field:

  1. Create a new document in Flash MX by going to File | New. A new, blank Flash MX movie will be displayed. Set the width and height of the movie to 300 pixels by 200 pixels respectively.
  2. Now, we need to draw the grass. Click the Pencil Tool from your toolbox. Select a green line color and draw a smooth, curved line near the bottom of your Flash stage:

[ drawing a blade of grass ]

  1. Once the blade of grass has been drawn, select the blade of grass and press F8 (or go to Insert | Convert to Symbol). The Convert to Symbol dialog box will appear. Enter an imaginative name, select movie clip, and press OK. The blade of grass is now a movie clip.
  2. Select the movie clip you just created. In the Properties panel, give the movie clip the instance name grass:

[ give the movie clip the instance name 'grass' ]

Playing with Grass
You have created the blade of grass. What we want to do now, is find a way to duplicate the blade of grass numerous times to create the illusion of a field. Not only will the blades of grass be duplicated, they need to be duplicated in random locations with random levels of transparency to create depth.

Duplicating Grass
Instead of copying and pasting the grass movie clip hundreds of times, you can use Flash to copy the movie for you. To duplicate the movie, first, right click on Frame 1 and select Actions. Copy and paste the following code:

[ copy and paste the above code into the Actions dialog box ]

Making Grass Position and Visibility Random
Now that the duplicating portion of the animation is through, we need to work on placing the grass in random locations. We also need to account for depth, varying sizes, and visibility that occurs because of it.

Right click on the grass movie clip and select Actions. Copy and paste the following code into the Actions dialog box:

[ copy and paste the above code into the Actions dialog box ]

Don't worry if all of this seems confusing. I will explain in detail what the lines of code accomplish.

Making the Grass Move
If you previewed your movie, you will see a nice field of hundreds of grass blades. In their current form, while nicer than what we created a few minutes ago, the grass is lifeless and static.

It is time to make the grass move:

  1. Right click on the grass movie clip and select Actions. The actions dialog box will appear with the code you pasted from above.
  2. Now, make sure your Actions dialog box is set to Expert Mode. Press Ctrl + Shift + E or press the little icon in the top-right corner of the Actions dialog box and select Expert Mode:

[ ensure you are in Expert Mode ]

  1. Once you have selected Expert mode, place your cursor after the last line and press Return. Copy and paste the code from the following box into your Actions Dialog box (after the first section of code):

[ copy and paste the above code into the Actions dialog box ]

Save the animation and preview the animation by going to File | Publish Settings | HTML. Your animation should have grass and basically mimic the animation you saw above.

In the next page, I will explain in detail how and why the code you entered makes grass move.


Next Page


SUPPORTERS:'s fast and reliable hosting provided by Media Temple.