Flash Draw Transparent BitmapData

Recently ran into an issue where I thought I should have been drawing a transparent BitmapData object, but the resulting object had a white background. The original incorrect code was the following:

var bd:BitmapData = new BitmapData(w, h, true);

The third boolean argument to the function is a transparency flag, and here it is set to true. However, when creating a Bitmap object from this BitmapData object and adding it to the display list, it clearly has a white background instead of being transparent. To remedy this, the solution is to pass along to the function a 32bit color value where the alpha value is zero. The following code illustrates this solution:

var bd:BitmapData = new BitmapData(w, h, true, 0x00000000);

This will create a totally transparent BitmapData object on which you can draw whatever you desire. In practice I use this to determine the alpha values of a given pixel in a given display object. The following function implements this technique:

public static function getAlphaAt(d:DisplayObject, x:Number, y:Number):Number {
    // Even though we set transparent to true, we still need to use a transparent color.
    // This is easily done by setting alpha to 0; the RGB octects after that don't matter.
    var bd:BitmapData = new BitmapData(d.width, d.height, true, 0x00000000);
    return (bd.getPixel32(x, y) >> 24 & 0xFF)/255;
Ben Snider

Benjamin Snider

Hi! 👋 I'm Ben and I like to write about technical and nerdy things. Historically about Swift and iOS. But, I've recently started a masters program in computer science (Georgia Tech's OMSCS), so the content here may pivot as such.  Get @me!