Classic hand-drawn animators often create a diagram that shows them exactly when and for how long each drawing, sound, and camera movement should take place. This process is called DopeSheet and is important to create a 3D configurator. While CG foundations are very different from classic hand-drawn animation, Blender’s Dopesheet takes on a similar directive. It gives the animator a “bird’s eye view” of everything that happens within a scene.

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DopeSheet Modes.

There are four basic views for fas DopeSheet that all show different contexts of the animation:


With the DopeSheet you can edit several actions simultaneously.

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The ActionEditor is the standard and most useful. Here you can define and control your actions.

Shape Key Editor

The Shape Key Editor is dedicated to the Shape Key data blocks. It uses/processes the same action data block as the previous mode. It seems to be an old and useless thing, because the Action Editor mode is very good with Shape channels and this mode doesn’t add anything…

Grease Pencil

The Grease Pencil is dedicated to the keyframes of the Grease Pencil Tool – for each Grease Pencil layer you have a strip along which you can grab its keys and easily adjust your animated sketches. Since it’s just another way to view and edit the Grease Pencil data, this mode doesn’t use a data block (and therefore has nothing to do with actions).

Note: Note that you have as many high-quality Grease Pencil channels as you have sketched the area.


The ActionEditor user interface is similar to that of the Graphics Editor, it is divided into three sections:

  • X Location
  • Y Location
  • Z Location


Here you will find the menus, a first block of controls that refer to the editor’s “mode”, a second block that refers to the action data blocks and some other tools (like the copy/paste buttons or the snap types).

View Menu.

Real-time updates.

When transforming keyframes, changes to the animation data are transferred to other views.

Show Frame Number Indicator.

Displays the frame number next to the current frame indicator line.

Show sliders.

A toggle that displays the value sliders for the channels. See the illustration of the ActionEditor, ActionEditor mode, with an object and shape channel…

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Use group colors.

Draw groups and channels with colors that match the corresponding groups.

AutoMerge keyframes.

Automatically merge nearby keyframes.

Sync Markers.

Synchronization of markers with keyframe edits.

Display seconds.

Whether the time is to be displayed in the X-axis as a frame or as seconds.

Set preview area.

Interactively define the image area used for playback. Allows you to define a temporary preview area for Alt-A real-time playback (the same as the Restore Area option in the Timeline Editor header).

Delete Preview Area.

Deletes the preview area.

Auto Set Preview Area.

Automatically sets the preview area to reflect the entire action.

Main Region.

It contains the keyframes for all visible action channels. As with the other “Time” editor, the X-axis represents the time. The Y-axis has no mean values in itself, unlike the graphics editor it is just a kind of “stack” of action channels – each one is displayed as a horizontal colored strip (with a darker hue “during” the animated/encrypted period). The keyframes lie on these channel strips, visualized as light gray or yellow diamonds. One of the main features of this editor is that it allows you to see immediately which channel (e.g. F curve) is really affected. If the value of a particular channel does not change at all between two adjacent keyframes, a grey (not selected) or yellow (selected) line is drawn between them.

List Tree Region.

This part shows the “Header” channels of the action and their hierarchy. Basically, there are:

  • “Top Level” channels that represent entire F curve data blocks (so there is one for object one, one for form one). They collect all keyframes defined in their underlying F-curve data block.
  • “Mid-level” channels that seem to have no use at the moment (there is one per top-level channel, they are all called F-curves and have no option).
  • “Low-Level” channels that display individual F-curves with their own keyframes (fortunately, only keyframes are displayed).

Each level can be zoomed in/out using the small arrow to the left of the “parent” channel. To the right of the headers of the channel are the setting controls of some channels:

  • If you click on the small “eye”, you can mute this channel (and all its “child” channels).
  • If you click on the small “lock”, you can prevent this channel and its children from being edited.

Note that this also works within the NLA, but does not prevent the output of the underlying F curve).

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A channel can be selected (text in white, stripes in gray blue) or not (text in black, stripes in pink-brown), use LMB clicks to switch this state. You can access the properties of a channel by clicking Ctrl-LMB in the header. Finally, you can have another column with Value Sliders that you can use to change the value of current keyframes or add new ones. These are of course only available for low-level channels (e.g. individual F curve).

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