This How to Animate in Blender tutorial teaches you everything a beginner needs to know to start animating in the Blender. Animation is what will make your creations turn to life. And because of that it’s safe to say that it is one of the most important tools available in 3D. This led to the creation of this How to Animate in Blender tutorial, in which you can learn everything a total beginner needs to know to start animating in the Blender. After all, Blender has really good animating tools.
We will jump right away into animating in Blender. If you want to learn the basics of how to use Blender – read out Blender Basics Tutorial series. And How to Move in Blender to learn how to handle 3D space and more around it.
Blender Animation: Keyframes and Timeline
The most important thing to learn in animation is keyframes. And to work with them you will need to use some sort of Animation Editor. In the Default Blender layout you can find the Timeline Editor at the bottom.
Or for a more comfortable layout you can use the “Animation” workspace at the top of the interface.
Here at the left you have a view from your camera and at the bottom is the Dope Sheet editor, which is basically a bit more advanced Timeline Editor.
To create your first animation you will need to add your first keyframe. Keyframe is a frame that defines the parameters of your object. Two keyframes that have different parameters of the object will create an animation. Best to see this yourself to understand.
To create a keyframe – select any object that you like, the default cube will do. Then right click on it and select “Insert Keyframe” option or press the shortcut key – [I] for Insert.
Then in the appeared window you will need to choose what information you want to be stored in the created keyframe. For the most simple animation I will create a Location keyframe.
You should see the created keyframe in the Dope Sheet or Timeline window as a series of yellow dots. Also you can see here that the object we are animating is a Cube and action is Object Transforms – its location.
One keyframe will do nothing, we need at least two for the animation. Select a different frame either by clicking on it in the timeline or by dragging the Playhead(blue rectangle on the top) for a few frames.
I have selected the 24-th frame as the default frame rate is 24 FPS, which means that 24 frames will be exactly a second of time. After that I have moved my cube a bit and created a new Location keyframe by pressing [I].
Now if you move the playhead around by clicking and dragging on it – you will see your animation working. In my case I can see how the Cube moves from the center of the World to the place where I placed the second keyframe
And, as you understand, you can create keyframes that store information about other transforms too. Meaning that you can animate your object rotating, scaling and moving at the same time if you create keyframes for that information.
I recommend playing around and creating a couple of keyframes yourself, seeing how it works and what you can do.
Blender Animation: Auto Keying and Playing Animation
You should have a couple of keyframes already. Which can create a proper animation. So it is the time to see it in full, right? To play animation use the Play Animation button [Spacebar] at the bottom of the Dope Sheet Editor.
There is a big chance that you just saw your full animation playing out. But then it froze for a few seconds just to start again after that. This happened because by default animation length was set to 250 frames. Which is more than 10 seconds for the default 24 frames per second.
You can change the end frame from 250 to something more suitable to your animation at the bottom right of the Dope Sheet Editor.
And now after clicking on the Play Animation [Spacebar] – animation will be playing in the loop. Meaning it will go from the beginning to the end in real time and then start again from the beginning until you stop it.
How to Animate in Blender using Auto Keying
There is an auto keying function in Blender. Also known as “record”. If you enable it – it will record all your actions and save them as keyframes in real time. To turn in on – press on the button with a dot at the bottom of an editor.
When it is turned on – any action you will perform on an object will be recorded as a keyframe. So it will be animated. For example I am on frame 13 and I will move and rotate my object a bit. As Auto Keying is turned on – it will immediately create a keyframe. There is no need to press a single button.
This is really convenient as it allows you to animate really fast and record everything without worrying too much about forgetting to create a keyframe or something like that.
Though you need to be careful with this too – there are plenty of situations when this can bite you in the back. Because if you are not careful – this can override your existing keyframes, for example. Or you can mistakenly create a keyframe of something you did not want to record.
Auto Keying overriding existing keyframe
So pay attention to it and be sure to turn it off when you don’t need it. This can lead to a lot of problems if you forget to turn it off.
Common Problems When Animating in Blender
There are a bunch of really common problems that you can meet while working with animations in Blender. We tried to make a list of these problems with explanations of how to fix them and why they happened, so you could avoid them in your later work.
- My animation seems very abrupt and jumpy.
- Most probably your keyframes are too close to one another. Meaning that your object can’t smoothly make such a big transformation in such few frames. Try moving [G] keyframes further apart to fix the problem.
- I have created a keyframe, but can’t see the result on the animation itself. Or my keyframe applied to the whole animation without animating it.
- You have created only one frame, probably an end frame. For proper animation you need at least two keyframes – a start and an end frames.
- I have transformed my object, but then it jumped back to how it was before that.
- You have not created a keyframe after transforming an object. It jumped to the state of the previous keyframe because of that. You can try turning on Auto Keying to avoid this.
- Object is making transforms that I did not want to animate.
- Most probably you forgot that you had Auto Keying on. So when you transformed your object – it created a keyframe instead of just transforming your object.
- Object is making the wrong transforms. Not the ones I wanted it to do.
- Again, you probably forgot to turn off Auto Keying, so you did override your existing keyframes. Try to remember that it is on when you use it.
Conclusion How to Animate in Blender For Beginners
We have explained the very basic skills about how to animate in Blender . We introduced keyframes, timeline and auto keying. Besides, we showed you the most common problems that can occur while animating in Blender and how to avoid those problems.