Create an Animated Flag

Discover how to use the cloth simulator to create a “bloody good” flag animation.

Length:
19 minutes
Software:
Blender 2.54
Difficulty:
Beginner
Rate:
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 4.8/5 (69 votes cast)

In this tutorial you will discover how to:

  • Create your first cloth simulation
  • Tweak cloth settings to produce realistic results
  • ‘Pin’ a portion of cloth
  • UV unwrap an image onto cloth
  • Setup a wind object with randomized patterns

Many years ago, if you mentioned the word ‘fabric’ to a 3d artist you would have seen visible signs of nervousness. Just the thought of all that moving mesh was enough to make anyone’s stomach churn. But in 2006 the cloth simulator was born, allowing even the most amateur artist to create realistic cloth physics at the press of a button.

Like me! In 2009 I used this very feature to create the final shot in my short film The Ballad of the M4 Carbine. I’ve since received countless emails from people asking me how I did this so I thought I’d finally get around to creating a tutorial ;)

The finished result:

Hear that? That’s raw patriotism right there…

In this tutorial I’ll be walking you through the basics of cloth simulation and how to use it to create an animated waving flag. If you’re a freelancer this type of job is bound to crop up from one time or another, so it’s a good trick to have under your belt.

At a Glance

Screenshots from the video:

What creative uses can you think of for the cloth simulator? Leave a comment below :)

Download finished .blend

Russian Flag IconRead the Russian Translation

Create an Animated Flag, 4.8 out of 5 based on 69 ratings

About Andrew Price

User of Blender for 9+ years. I've written tutorials for 3d World Magazine and spoken at three Blender conferences. My goal is to help artists get employed in the industry by making training accessible and easy to understand. I'm an Aussie and I live in South Korea ;)
  • Hair Stroke Simulation

    Great post hair stroke simulation ! In really had a great time reading it!!! It was really informative, thanks for sharing!!

  • Jeroen

    I’m making this in Blender cycles,
    You can aim the wind strait onto the flag and make it work.

    Just add some noise, max = 10.000.. and it works very well,
    you can find the options just in the Wind physics.

    And Andrew Thanks for this tutorial!!

  • Anon

    Hi there, I’m an absolute beginner (this tutorial made me give it a go) and I was able to follow the instructions ok but the finished product was simply a waving flag floating in space. I downloaded the finished .blend from the link and finally worked out how to render it though when I did so the flag just started whiping around the pole. Any ideas how to fix this?

    Thanks

    • Anon

      I should add that I changed the Australian flag for my own image

  • aoxsic

    Thank you for the tutorial! I really wish you’d make more scifi tutorials. Model some ships and animate a fight, maybe!! that’d be cool!

    Or a fantasy character creation tutorial, that would be awesome, too.

    Here’s mine, with animation and sound and everything:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOQuyn6DUus

  • Pieter Wiemken

    Hey Andrew, I’m having trouble with the cloth animation. when I press ctrl+a after assigning the pinning point, the entire plane still falls. I’m in 2.67

    • John

      Having the same problem.

      • Rusty

        Did you make a vertex group? And did you click assign on the edge of the flag?

  • 42 Gallifreyan Anglerfishes

    Here’s mine:
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9752WTAR_DDRnVYSkhpQ21oMFk/edit?usp=sharing

    You might have to sign out of your Google Docs account, but you should be able to see it.