In a previous article we have already taught them the basics of rigging (important process to create a 3D configurator). In this article we will deepen the basics of animation and learn how to use some of Blender`s animation tools to set keyframes and adjust motion with the Blender Graph Editor.

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Ath bottom of Blender User Interface is the animation header, which displays the timeline, the frame area and various keyframe properties. By default, Blender runs at 24 frames per second, which is the default for movie animations. However, if you want to change this to about 30 frames per second, you can open your render settings in the Properties panel and adjust the frames there using Second (FpS).

Add keyframes.

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The best way to get familiar with a software`s animation tools is to start with the keyframes. At the bottom of the timeline you should see some keyframe options. To set a keyframe on an object, you must first set the channels on which a keyframe should be set. With the two key symbols you can place or delete a keyframe at the current position on the timeline. However, if you have selected an object and now want to set a keyframe, you should receive the following receive the following error message “No active keying set”. This error message means that blender was not told which channels should be animated, e.g, whether a cune should be scaled or rotated.

If you check the box next to the key symbol, a list of options will be displayed. In the example we want to translate a cube and select “Location”, which means that the X-, Y- and Z-axes are defined as active keying sets.

You will then need to select the key symbol. This way you can successfully add 3 keyframes for the active keying set.

Now all we have to do is click on the timeline and drag it to where we want to place the next keyframe. Now move the timeline to frame 20. For frame 20. move the cube up the Z-axis and select the Insert Keyframes icon to lock another keyframe. Now you should see a cube moving upwards in the room. You can also use the keyboard shortcut “i” to set a keyframe.

Blender also has an auto key function, so you can generate a new keyframe any time you make an adjustment to your object in 3D space. To activate Auto Keying, you can select the red icon next to the Auto Keying checkbox. Once you`ve gotten more involved with animation work in Blender, you`ll appreciate the benefits of Auto Keying.

If you want to set keyframes for objects other than the location of an object, you can change the keying set. With the keying set “LocRot”, for example, you can animate both the translation channel and the rotation channel. With LocRotScale you can animate all three channels and it depends only on what you need in your recording.

Graph Editor.

Now you have learned the basics of keyframing. The next step is to familiarize you with Blender`s Graph Editor. With the Graph Editor you can split your view horizontally and select the Graph Editor header. The changes the 3D view window to the Graph Editor view. So we have the 3D view in one panel and the Graph Editor is one.

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When you open the Diagram Editor, you should see the channels on the left, since only the Active Keying is set to Location, you will now see only the X, Y and Z locations.

If you`ve used Maya`s Graph Editor before, it won`t be too hard to learn Blender`s Graph Editor because there are hardly any differences. The numbers on the bottom represent the frame numbers, the vertical numbers represent the locations.

You can select the individual keyframes with the RMB and like in the 3D viewport you can mark a group of keyframes with “B”. You can also zoom in and out with the MMB wheel. You can also reduce and stretch the curves by holding down Ctrl and dragging with the MMB. Clicking LMB and dragging inside the editor allows you to scrub the animation, just as you can see the animation in the bottom view.

Each keyframes will also have a tangential handle, if you have used any other animation software, you are most likely already familiar with how curve editors work. When you select a keyframe, a handle is displayed. You can select only one side of the handle and move it up or down, shrink and stretch it to fit the shape of the curve. The selection works the same as in 3D space, so you can also select the handles with the RMB.

Tracking the arcs.

When it comes to animation, tracking the arcs is extremely important. You should make sure everything runs smoothly. It`s also important that their distance works as it should. Fortunately, Blender makes it extremely easy to follow both with Motion Paths.

In the example, only a very simple animation of a cube moving up and down in a so-called arcing motion was created. Once you have selected the cube, you can go to the toolbar and under the Animation tab you will see the Motion Paths option.

All you have to do is select the Calculate option. Then you can adjust the image are. In our case, the animation is only 45 frames long, so the start frame long, so the start frame is one and the end frame is 45. When you click Ok, the Motion Path is calculated.

As soon as the calculation is completed, the motion path of the cube is visualized so that you can clearly see the arc. The great thing about Motion Path in Blender is that it not only displays the keyframe in orange, but also all frames with white trick marks. This way you can see exactly how the distance works in your animation. When you adjust the cube, the Motion Path is automatically updated to reflect this.

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This article provided readers with a very simple overview of the animation tools in Blender. However, this article is a good startint point to learn how to create animations in Blender.

In later artciles we will delve deeper into character animations and present more complex projects.