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This is Sand

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Rating: 4.4/5 (182 votes)
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This is Sand

JessThis is Sand is a lovely little web toy, a nice, gentle way to ease your brain back to life after the weekend. It could hardly be simpler or more elegant: the program converts pixels into digital sand that falls, stacks and layers just like the real thing, providing an endless array of possible designs, landscapes and pictures.

Press and hold the left mouse button to create a stream of sand; double-clicking will result in a steady, continuous flow. The [C] key brings you to the color picker, where you can choose the hue of your sand; dragging between two colors will produce a very nice gradient effect. You can press [E] to erase any false starts or less-than-pleasing pictures, and anything you love can be submitted to a gallery of thousands of user-created masterpieces!

This is Sand is a joint project of the designers Johanna Lundberg and Jenna Sutela, and Flash programmer Timo Koro. Together they have created a playground of color and sound, and I enjoyed it very much for its relaxing, meditative qualities; listening to the gentle hiss of the falling sand (the game's single sound) and watching the gradually forming images was both relaxing and engrossing. Unfortunately, the toy is, by its very nature, limited. I found it difficult to create shapes other than pyramids or jagged-edged linear protrusions; curves were next to impossible. This is true to the toy's mechanics, but nonetheless can eventually become tedious. Also, at this point, the only "sandbox" available to players is the entire screen, which is quite a lot of space to fill and also creates a certain sameness in every picture; I think it would be really cool to have smaller, differently shaped spaces to fill in with sand as well (like a curvy bottle shape, for example).

Still, despite its limitations, This is Sand is an enjoyable and relaxing way to express a little creativity, or to just escape from the everyday grind for a few moments of Zen.

Play This is Sand

Cheers to Origamimarie for suggesting this one! =)


2 things:


also... This game is really cool... I love sand games... :DDD

Patreon Crew SonicLover July 21, 2008 5:52 PM

What can I say? This is sand.

fuzzyface July 21, 2008 5:53 PM

Nice game, definetly teaches patience :-)

I don't know if it would hurt the concept, but I'd love to have an "antisand" available, a sand that erases send when falling down.

On the other side thinking about working with "real" sand, I miss the option to flip the whole screen a bit, to be able to smear the sand somewhat.

Also is this the first sand game ever done in flash? To now most were in java.


It's the first sand game I've seen in Flash.


I had fun with this one, it reminded me of sand projects I had done in art class as a kid.

Still, if the creator is doing a second version, I would suggest more tools to use: glue, wind, an eraser, and the ability to push sand around come to mind. Also, it would be nice to have a color picker up at all times, somewhere out of the way.

Sheer_Cold July 21, 2008 6:18 PM

It's my submarine. Includes periscope/light!


Huh..What about sandman? That was made years ago in Flash.


jon - I thought the topic was sand creativity webtoys, not games that include sand.

But you're right, Sandman was the first Flash game that included pouring sand that I remember.


For the biggest canvas, press F11 for full screen... :D Sand...


I didn't make this, but I have to share it.
Super Paper Mario... Sand Edition!



There should be a pen re-size thing so it doesnt take hours to fill the screen... :(

BurnChao July 21, 2008 8:27 PM

This is very fun. I like it, especially using two colors at once.


Walkthrough please! ;-))

Ainegue July 21, 2008 9:11 PM

Very nice, although it could use some more stuff...

The worst thing about this is that there's no eraser and it takes what feels like hours to fill the entire screen.

That mario thing is amazing!

And no offense, but the submarine looks like a giant clam. Hehe.


Oh, and an automatic save thing would be nice. I just minimized the screen to see what would happen, and suddenly Firefox stopped working. And now I have to start... all... OVER! sigh... And I was just finishing my giant island and sky and outer space and moon! GAHH.

Sarah Mac July 21, 2008 10:00 PM

Yeah, this would be a great game if I was patient enough to play it. I hope they come out with more versions cause the finished product looks really cool. And yes, the submarine looks like a clam. ButI probably couldn't do any better. So yeah. It looks pretty good! And I couldn't figure out how to use two colors at once. I am a dolt. :P


Um, I can't get it to work. Maybe it's because I'm on a mac, or using safari? In any case, all I see is the little square that opens the info panel or w/e, not any game window. Or maybe I just missed it?


oh HAH!!! I am an idiot. :)



For some reason my sand kept alternating between black, gray, and white when I hadn't even had a chance to press 'C' and select a color. Does this happen for everyone?


here's mine!! only took about 2 hrs of my life, lol.


I wouldn't have had the patience to do the whole thing if I hadn't resized my Firefox window. I made it about a quarter of the size of my screen, and then after I finished it, when I stretched it out, the image stretched along with it. I don't know if it really took any less sand/time to do it, but I like to think it did.

I also really liked this one I saw in the gallery:


Here's mine: http://thisissand.com/gallery/#/8879

I figured out how to do stars a bit late so it's not quite what I wanted it to look like :/

OrigamiMarie July 22, 2008 1:37 AM

Oh good, I knew the JIG crowd would make good pictures. Here are a couple of mine:

fuzzyface July 22, 2008 5:25 AM

Okay I revise my idea of "antisand", I think a "sucking straw" would be a cool tool.

Also problem, when clicking the mouse on already existing, sand will drop above, BUT it will also move sandcorns directly into the middle of existing sand -> not nice!


Great game! It's very simple, but very well done. I just wish that you could have more control over the colors; an easy way to choose shades of grey would be nice. (Or maybe I missed something?)

Anyway though, here's my first finished drawing: http://thisissand.com/gallery/#/9098


Oh wow, OrigamiMarie, those are great. I especially like the second one you posted. :)

fuzzyface July 22, 2008 10:28 AM

Jess, yes but the problem is, that it actually goes between existing sand. Which can be a pain destroying a long-time created picture

OrigamiMarie July 22, 2008 11:42 AM

Here are some tips and tricks so you don't have to find them yourself :). I don't think they spoil the fun, they just take up a lot of room.

Picture Size

The pixel/sand count size of your finished picture is related to the window size. The size seems to reset when you erase the picture. So if you want a smaller (quicker to fill) picture, reduce your window size before erasing. If you want bigger sand grains, reduce before erasing and then enlarge before painting. The final picture will submit as the original resolution.


The sand spreads out as it falls down through the air, so if you want softer changes in color or mountains that are less pointy (well, really just more, smaller jagged points), hold the mouse up higher while sprinkling.


You have probably seen individual dots in some pictures, used for stars or subtle effects. These are done by holding the mouse under the sand level with the color you want to use for the dots. Usually, you fill up the entire screen first so that the color doesn't show piling up above the area you're working in. Of course, you can get unintentional dots this way too, while just trying to put on the next layer. If you want intentional dots, do some experiments first on a large canvas full of something you don't care about before you make them on your two-hour masterpiece, because I have gotten some odd effects from them. If there are previously-made dots above the ones you are trying to make, those will get re-colored (even if those dots are invisible because they were made using the same background color).


The directions note (but I failed to pay attention the first time) that you can use the left and right arrow keys to change to previous and next colors in your 'palette'. I like to start out by building my palette and testing the colors, then erase all of the test heaps and do the real picture. If you discover in one of your test heaps that you didn't like the color, just arrow left to make your next palette addition come before it. This way, you can get a compact palette of just the colors you want, with the duds stretching out to the right.


You probably read the directions and found that you can make gradients by a click-and-drag motion. You can make a nice series of gradients by using my palette trick, and for each one just leave your mouse at the end-point for the previous one. So you hit C, drag a gradient from dark purple to a slightly lighter bluer color, leave the mouse where it is, hit C again, drag from that end-point to an even lighter, bluer color, and repeat for as long as you like. That is how I get a nice palette for the mountain ranges fading into the distance effect.

OrigamiMarie July 22, 2008 12:34 PM


that's "Mountain Scene". see the volcano? see the upclose lake? see the actual mountain? see the hill?


I didn't make it but it's awesome still the same. that's called "Beach (Playa)


This is Dofi! Dofi? THIS IS SAND!


Teepees by the Mountains



Ooh, very nice Sue. ^_^

Is that the legend of the golden clam, rising from the sea? :)


Hehe... I did something only a sports fan would do. http://thisissand.com/gallery/#/9388
You'll see what I mean. By the way it is ordered "blackhawks/white sox, bears, bulls, cubs, rush" so you know what teams they are.


Its suppose to be a sun, best i could do....took me one hour to do.............


Oh! Of course it is the sun!

(I knew that) ;)


Here's my Jagged Rainbow. I'm not very creative. :)



Pam that's awesome! ^_^


..And four hours later, I'm finally done!

I actually used post-it notes to hold my place on the palette; doing a gradient manually took much longer than expected. I rushed near the end (which I regret ): ) but here it is:

--haha, someone posted the link before I did. (thanks, Sammy! C: )


Skye, I love it! Very good! \o/ :D

alphabuz July 23, 2008 3:20 AM

This is absolutely the best toy I've ever had. It seems to be great therapy, too. It's not only relaxing, but teaches you a thing or two about patience (that's something I do admit I really need).
Here are my two drawings, they took about an hour each. Of course, they both include mountains, sand or seas (I'm still trying to figure out what else I could draw with this tool), and I resized the window to work quicker (it does feel a little bit like cheating, though).

Those little white things in the middle? That's a village. The mutilated lemon? That's the sun. Yeah.

That thing near the sea (you do see the sea, right?), that's a rock. And those weird lines up by the sun are sun rays.

I think my next project's going to be a tree. And some flowers. Perhaps even a butterfly. I wonder if I'm up to it. Hmm.


This is not sand.......THIS IS SPARTA!!!!!!! lawlz and I LUV SAND GAMEZ!

OrigamiMarie July 23, 2008 11:17 AM

Oh this is funny and great. It's like we're all 5 years old again. Mom is holding a picture that took an hour of hard work to make, and kid points and says "and THAT's a bird", and Mom says "Oh, uh-huh!" and really appreciates the hard work of making art. Maybe that's the problem with art-for-art's-sake these days, it's too easy to make something recognizable, so artists make something inscrutable instead, just to make people wonder. Or maybe it's all of the amazing competition coming from all corners of the web :). Who needs surreal paintings when you can make surreal photoshop stuff? Such strange times we live in . . .
Oh and this is a tree:


I made a little sea scape type thing. That funny thing at the bottom is supposed to be a sea vent with waves of bubbles coming out of it.


DreadJester July 26, 2008 9:32 PM

Just a little one I made. Think I've got X-Files on the brain. That, or maybe Stargate.



Since pictures created in this is sand are done neither for critical acclaim nor personal profit, they are the purest forms of art. Discuss.


wow, it's made by Finnish??

Francesca May 16, 2009 6:55 PM

http://thisissand.com/gallery/#/83554 <--- mine awesome game.

Christine June 11, 2009 10:44 PM

How do you change color? I keep getting black and white sand.


To Christine:

You just need to press "C" on your keyboard and it will bring up the color pallette for you to choose a color.


Hold the click button, right click, go on settings. Let go of left button and it should keep letting sand and then you don't have to hold it. You can even move it up to the top of thisissand.com and play games until it drops enough sand!


Finally completed one!


Also, I registered, but I can't log in. I have the right password and username, but it's still considered invalid. Help?

[Edit: Make sure you're logging in with your username and not your display name



This is mine. Hope you like it!



Mine. It's an anthill covered in snow and ice, but the snow on top of some of the ants is melting.


Thisissand.com is awesome. You should all check out my creations. I'm Finalflash50. Just search that in the gallery. Here is my top creation.


Its not much and there are a few visible mistakes but people seem to like it.



I made a snow lepard/ zebra!

Love this game!


Mine. http://thisissand.com/gallery/#/292295

Took forever to do.

I would've liked the smearing feature as well, or the ability to put sand where there already was sand...


I have no idea what this is, but i made it :D


Plz tell me what u think! :)


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