Note: This page is no longer being maintained and is kept for archival purposes only.
For current information see our main page.
PlantStudio Kurtz-Fernhout Software
Developers of custom software and educational simulations.
Home ... News ... Products ... Download ... Order ... Support ... Consulting ... Company
Product area
Help System
Quick Tour
How it works

Tutorial Lesson 2: Editing and viewing plants

In this lesson you will learn about animating, copying, selecting, randomizing, moving, rotating and resizing plants.

Open the file from the first lesson

If you haven't already done the
first tutorial lesson, open the file called Tutorial Lesson 1.pla in your PlantStudio directory. If you already did the first lesson, open the file you made now if it is not already open. In either case you should see one Black-eyed Susan in the drawing area.

Look at the main window

Let's take a moment to orient ourselves here in the main window.

  1. At the top is the drawing area, where you can see your plant. On the lower left is the plant list, with one item in it (Black-eyed Susan). [If the drawing area is on the left side instead of the top, you need to re-orient the window. Choose Unconcentrate from the Layout menu.]

  2. The seedlinggif/plantstudio00000009.gif in front of your plant's name in the plant list shows you the plant is visible. Click on the seedling; the plant will disappear. Click on the seedling again to show the plant.

  3. The little pencil indicator below the plant list tells you whether you have changed the open file or not. Next to the pencil is a little picture of a plant that tells you if you are using plant bitmaps and how much memory they are taking up. Next to the picture of a plant, a progress bar appears when PlantStudio is drawing plants.

  4. On the lower right side of the window is the focus panel, where you can find information about your plant. The Life cycle panel shows the plant's life cycle with a graph of size versus time. The Rotation panel shows the plant's x, y and z rotations. The Parameters panel is where you will change plant parameters later. The Parts panel shows a breakdown of the plant into its parts. You can click on these tabs now to see what is there.

Look at the drawing speeds

PlantStudio has three different
drawing speeds you can select from depending on what your needs are at the moment. Let's see how the three drawing speeds look with your plant now.

  1. Choose Draw as Solids from the Options menu. If that option wasn't already selected, your plant will redraw at the slowest drawing speed and with solid leaves and other plant parts.

  2. Now choose Draw as Wire Frames from the Options menu. The plant will redraw as a wire-frame structure. This is faster than the Draw as Solids option but less complete.

  3. Now choose Draw as Bounding Boxes from the Options menu. The plant will redraw with only squares where its leaves and petals should be. This drawing speed is best when you are moving plants around and don't need to see shapes.

  4. Go back to wire frames (choose Draw as Wire Frames from the Options menu) for the rest of this lesson.

Select the plant

You only have one plant in your file, so this is a good time to learn about selecting plants.

  1. If the Select/drag gif/plantstudio00000010.gif button is not pushed in on the toolbar at the top of the window, push it in now. Your cursor should look like an arrow in the drawing area.

  2. Click on your plant. A rectangle should appear around it. That rectangle is called a selection rectangle. You can also see that your plant is selected because it is highlighted in the plant list. [If you don't see a selection rectangle, choose Show Selection Rectangles from the Options menu.]

  3. If you are using plant bitmaps, you have to click directly on a plant -- on a leaf, stem, or other colored surface -- to select it. If you are not using plant bitmaps, you just need to click inside the selection rectangle. We don't know which option you are using, so we'll just say "click on the plant" or "click off the plant" and you will know what we mean.

  4. If you don't know whether or not you are using plant bitmaps, you should find out now, because this choice has a large bearing on how well PlantStudio will work on your computer. Glance over the section on using plant bitmaps now to see if you should be using them.

  5. Now click off the plant. The selection rectangle will disappear and your plant's name will no longer be highlighted in the list. Also notice that many of the menu items are now disabled. And look at the Life cycle panel -- it is gray and there is no information there. This is all because there is no plant selected.

  6. Click on your plant again to select it.


Now let's see how the plant looks as it grows.

  1. Choose Animate from the Plant menu. The plant will shrink down to a seedling, then grow up to its full size again. Notice that while the plant is animating, you can't click anywhere with the mouse. To stop the animation you have to press a key on the keyboard.

  2. You can also animate the plant by clicking the Animate gif/plantstudio00000011.gif button in the Life cycle panel. If you like, try that now and watch the animation again.

Make two more plants

It's a lonely little plant, don't you think? (Reminds me of the song, "I'm a lonely little petunia in an onion patch, and all I do is cry all day.") Let's give it some company.

  1. Hold down the Control key and click on the plant, then drag a short distance to the right. Now you have an identical clone of your plant sitting next to it.

  2. Make another copy in the same way, by Control-dragging.

Select all the plants

  1. Click outside the plants and drag across them all to select all the plants. Notice that one plant has a different-colored selection rectangle than the other plants, and that its name has a little box around it in the plant list. This plant is called the focused plant. The focused plant is the plant things happen to when they can only happen to one plant. It's always the plant you clicked on first.

  2. Notice that the Life cycle, Rotation, Parameters and Parts tabs are colored red. That is to remind you that more than one plant is selected and that most of the changes you make will apply to more than one plant.


Now let's add a little variety.

  1. Still leaving all three plants selected, choose Randomize from the Plant menu. The three plants will change the way they look slightly. Randomization changes some angles and branching patterns in the plant to produce what looks like some individual variation.

  2. Randomize a few more times, but use the keyboard shortcut (Control-R) this time. When you like how the plants look, stop.


  1. Still leaving all the plants selected, click the Rotate gif/plantstudio00000012.gif cursor mode in the toolbar.

  2. Rotating plants is a little complicated, because you can rotate in three dimensions. Before we start rotating, let's give all the plants the same rotation. Select the Rotation panel, then click Reset rotations. The plants will all change to zero degrees in the X, Y and Z directions, as you can see in the rotation boxes in the Rotation panel.

  3. Click and drag to the left or right in the drawing area. You will see your three plants rotating around in circles. This is called rotating in the X direction.

  4. Now click Reset rotations again to prepare for the next dimension.

  5. Click and drag up or down. The plants will rotate so you can look at them from a bird's eye view or a worm's eye view. This is called rotating in the Y direction.

  6. Again, click Reset rotations to prepare for the next dimension.

  7. Now right-click or Shift-click and drag to the left or right. Your plants will tilt to the left or right. This is called rotating in the Z direction.

  8. Click Reset rotations one last time to bring your plant back to normal. We lost the random X rotations that randomization produced, so you can randomize the plants again in if you like.

  9. Now you've seen rotation in each dimension all by itself. Together, X, Y, and Z rotations interact to produce sometimes confusing results. You can play with the three rotation dimensions to get a handle on how this works later.


  1. Go back to Select/drag gif/plantstudio00000013.gif mode.

  2. Notice now that the focused plant has something different on its selection rectangle -- a little box in the upper right-hand corner. That box is called a resizing square. Click there now and drag up or down to resize all the selected plants.

Undo and redo

Let's check out the undo system.

  1. Choose Undo from the Edit menu. Do this a few times to see your recent changes disappear.

  2. Now choose Redo from the Edit menu until there is nothing left to redo and you are back to where we were.

Save your file

Now save your plant file to use in the next lesson. Choose Save from the File menu, choose a directory, and type in My tutorial 2.pla.

Move on to Lesson 3: Changing plant parameters

Go to the Tutorial Index

Read more about:

Navigating in the main window

Zooming, scrolling and rotating

Selecting plants

Moving and arranging plants

Randomizing plants

Undoing and redoing

Home ... News ... Products ... Download ... Order ... Support ... Consulting ... Company
Updated: March 10, 1999. Questions/comments on site to
Copyright © 1998, 1999 Paul D. Fernhout & Cynthia F. Kurtz.