When talking about 3D animation, it is very common for beginners in particular to have a panic attack. Bringing life and movement to a model sounds like a challenging task and only for the most patient. Let’s talk about how to animate in Blender.

Do not fear! 3D animation is a lot less complex than it looks; it is often quite entertaining, and in a good way!

If you already know how to use Blender, you will surely be well aware of how powerful it is as a tool that, in addition to modelling and creating, will also allow us to animate our creations. And here we come to show you how much truth there is in such assertions. Are you ready?

First steps of animating in Blender

Don’t worry, we have no intention of putting the cart before the horse. Therefore, we are going to teach you from scratch, from the very basics. And also, in our Blender section you can learn much more about how to use this tool 🙂

When you open the Blender tool, you will find a cube already generated, which we will use to work on the basics of animation.

At the top of the Blender interface you will find several tabs to open. We will, of course, open “Animation”, which will be displayed as follows:

The tab on the right will be the same tab we have open at all times, where we can operate our object freely. At the bottom, we have a “Timeline”, where we can define the sections of movement of our object. And, on the left, a preview window to see how the object’s movement would look in animation.

To define the movement of the object in our Timeline, we will have to make use of the “Keyframes”. So what are they? Simple; keyframes define the point from which our object starts or ends a movement. That is to say, if I want the object to start its movement from point A, we will place the object at that point, and there we will create the first keyframe. So, when the animation starts, the object will start its movement there.

To create this keyframe, simply move the object where you want it to start moving, press “I” and then select “Location”. Once this is done, we will find the first keyframe in our Timeline.

Animater in Blender

Now, for the animation to end at point B, we simply move the object to this same point, where we create another keyframe. First you will have to move the Timeline!

This second point will define the movement of the object. Basically, by having a start and end point, the trajectory will already be defined. After defining both points on your Timeline, you will be able to see the movement of your object by pressing the space bar.

Eh voilà! Now we have our first animation! Didn’t it seem more difficult to animate in Blender than it really is? We know, it’s very basic, but from here you will be able to move your object from one place to another without limitations to create an animation to your liking. Remember that it’s not only about moving your object, but you can also rotate it and even scale it (or what is the same: change its size).

Animate in Blender from “bones”.

The animation method shown above, although it allows you to move and animate an object freely, is very limited for more precise movements and more complex models. So it will be ideal if you don’t leave here having left halfway through. You will now learn how to animate models like a true 3D artist!

*(Remember, if you implement this lesson with the previous one, you will have better results).

This time, we are going to use a humanoid model. In order not to get lost, we recommend that you use the same as us, which you will find here. Don’t worry, it’s free!

Let’s open the file of the model in question. To work more comfortably, use the view changes from the number pad on your keyboard. For example, if you press “1”, you will have a front view of the model. From here, we execute the command “Shift+A”, where we will create our first bone by selecting “Armature”. When we create it, we will move it to the base of our model’s waist.

If you see that the bone is “buried” inside the model, don’t worry! You can make it visible at any time by activating the front view from “Viewport Display” in the right tab.

Once this is done, we will scale with “S” our first bone already created in order to assimilate it to the size of the torso of the model. It shall run from the head to the waist. And, after that, going into edit mode by pressing the tab key, we will subdivide the bone into 4 small bones; right click and “Subdivide”. A small folding tab will appear at the bottom left, where we will set the number of subdivisions, which in this case will be 3.

Starting from the lower bone (hip), we will remove the leg bones. To do this, select the lower end/sphere of the bone and press “E”, generating a new bone. From this, we will create up to 3 more bones to complement one of the legs.

Now, of course, the same will have to be done for the other leg. Watch out for the shortcut! Select all bones from the horizontal bone at the waist to the foot bone. Then right click and “Names” 🡪 “Auto-Name Left/Right” (this is very important for the bone movement to work correctly). Now we can duplicate them by right-clicking again and clicking “Symmetrize”.

To create the arm bones, we will do the same as we did with the legs; we will start from the torso bone, to create the ones that will form one of the arms, and, when finished, we will duplicate them so that they can be applied to the other arm.

Remember to check the side view! From here you can also adjust the bones so that they don’t move out of the model and have a more optimal movement when animating.

Now it’s time to “merge” the model with its skeleton so that, when animating, the model itself moves along with each bone. If our model is separated by parts (hands, legs, head, clothes, etc…), we select all of them, and then the whole skeleton. In this case the model is all attached, so we simply select it, and then to the set of bones. We will do “Ctrl+P”, and then select “With Automatic Weights”.

To check that everything is running smoothly, we will enter “Pose Mode” and move the bones. And if the model moves with them, your model is ready to be brought to life!

Following the basic concepts we explained at the beginning, you will be able to animate your character as you wish, now with more detail and dynamism.

Now it’s your turn to animate your character in Blender!

Message from the Beemeral team: Hey! Did you like this post? Animating in Blender is veeeeery complicated and we know it, that’s why we encourage you to learn at an adequate speed, slowly but surely. Animating in Blender is only one part of the whole learning process. Take it easy 🤝

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