Written by: 'Mean Dean'
Difficulty Level: beginner
Requirements: Flash 5+, I believe...
Assumed Knowledge: Having a use for the dynamic and input text in Flash.
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Okay, this one is so easy you'll gag, I swear, there's really nothing to it. It doesn't really serve much purpose either, 'cept to make Flash's ass-ugly input/dynamic text less boring to look at.... It's still ass-ugly, but at least it's not dull.

How and why you're using input text is up to you; I have my own uses which are covered elsewhere in this and other Flash sites. I'm just tellin' you how to do a Stupid Text Trick.

1) Open a new file in Flash, make the background color white, and make the stage... I dunno, about 400 X 300.

2) Insert three layers (for a total of four). Name the top one "input", the second one "shadow", the third "background", and the bottom one "control".

3) On the "background" layer, select the Rectangle tool and drag out a rectangle about 360 X 260. Center it, make the fill color black, and lock that layer: you're not gonna do anything else to it.

4) On the "input" layer, select your text tool. Create a text area box the same size as the rectangle on the "background" layer... almost. Make it, maybe, 359 X 259. Give it the same X and Y position on the stage as the "background" box.

4a) Set the text properties to 'Input text', use a sans-serif font face (this is kinda important), like Arial. Everyone has Arial on their computer. Set the 'Line type' to "Multiline"; set the font size to 21, and the text color to black. Give it a variable ('Var') name of 'input'.

5) Copy this frame to the "shadow" layer; click the 'visibility' for the "input" layer so's you can't see it.

6) Select the copied text area in the "shadow" layer and make some changes: set its properties as 'Dynamic Text' instead of input, change the text color to white, and give it a new variable name of 'shadow'.

7) Since the position on the stage of the two text boxes are the same, change the bottom one slightly: Using the X and Y position boxes in the Properties inspector, move the "shadow" text area down and right, just a little. If the X position of the "input" text area is 20.0, and the Y position is 20.0, change the "shadow" text to 20.5(X) and 20.6(Y).

8) Create a new Movie Clip. This isn't anything but a controller clip, so there is no need for any graphics. All this clip needs is two keyframes.

9) In keyframe one, type:

var m = _root.input;
_root.shadow = m;

In keyframe two, type:

gotoAndPlay(1);

That's it. Go back to your main timeline and drag this clip onto the stage in the "control" layer.

10) Test it. You should have a 3D-type effect in whatever text you type in your text area.

NOTES:

  • Serifed fonts like Times New Roman look like crap in Flash dynamic text boxes; they'll look crappier using this effect.
  • Fart around with different font sizes and the stage position of the "shadow" text area.
  • Stinkin' Obvious Dept.: The colors for all these things can be anything you want... as long as the "input" text color and the "background" color are the same. (Or, mix & match how you want... Have yellow letters with a red '3D' effect on a green background, whatever.)
  • And a reminder from the style sheets part of yer 'HTML 101' class: Just 'cos you have a font installed on your computer doesn't mean everyonehas it installed. Stick with the ol' standards: Arial, Verdana, Comic Sans MS. If someone has Times New Roman as their default font and you've specified a 'specialty' font like Marketpro, you've defeated the purpose of making ugly text interesting.
  • Like the old saying goes, "If you can't dazzle 'em with brilliance, baffle 'em with BullScript." Or something like that.