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B08- Animation in Blender

Although we can do 2D classical animation or frame-by-frame type animation in Blender, but Blender is specially designed to do Key-Frame animation. In key-frame animation, we have to provide only the important or ‘key’ poses to software. As we discussed earlier, the software does the remaining animation by calculating the given information and the time difference between them.

To do animation in Blender, we have to use the Timeline section below the Viewport. Lets start by talking about that.


You will notice a long horizontal area, this is the animation timeline. There is a small green vertical line in it and some numbers.


The numbers on timeline are the frame numbers and the green line represents the current frame. Below that, there is a menu having buttons like ‘View, Marker, Frame’ etc. Then there is section showing Start and End frame and also for current frame number. After that there are buttons for Play, Pause just like in common media player. This entire section is called Timeline. This is the most important section for doing animation and for calculating the time. Without ‘Timing’ there can not be Animation. We will be using this section a lot, while animating.

All softwares calculate the time in ‘Frames’. In Blender, 1 sec is set to be 24 frames currently. You can of course change it, but we need not do it right now. So if we make 24 frame animation and play it back, it will run for 1 sec. If we want 1 min animation then we have to make a, 60 x 24 = 1,440 frames animation. Remember ‘that post’, when we discussed about such a frame’s calculation?

Q: Of-course that was scary initially, but then you explained about computer animation. I am now even more interested in it.

Now we will make some animation in Blender, let’s take a simple example for that. Why not animate the cube itself, which is there in the centre of the viewport? Let’s imagine that we want to have that cube move to the right. Also let’s imagine that it will take 2 secs for it to reach there. 

Now we will break it down in terms of key-frames. Initially, the cube will remain in the same place for the first key-frame. 2 secs will be 2 X 24 i.e. 48 frames. So our first ever animation in blender will be of 2 sec or 48 frames. Right?

We will tell blender about the key-frames. Our first and last frames are the only 2 key-frames in our example. First ‘key-frame’ will be at frame 1 and the 2nd will be at 48. So we are telling blender essentially the 2 things. First the location of cube at both frames and secondly the time of each frame. In other words, we have to tell Blender the ‘Where’ and ‘When’. The ‘Why’ part is our look-after. In our last post, we talked about the properties panel, which posed up by pressing ’N’. We did the table using the X, Y and Z Dimensions. Remember? Now we have to do the animation of the ‘Location’ property.

So lets open Blender and animate the cube present in the centre.

First we will check whether the green line in the timeline is at frame 1. Our first key will be at this frame. We will have the ‘Location’ key here. Keep the Properties panel open. (By pressing ’N’ key) and notice location section. Now at this frame we want the cube to be at the same place. So we now have to tell blender to use the same location as the key. So let’s do that. Move your mouse inside the viewport and press ‘I’ button on keyboard and select ‘Location’ from the menu. This stands for ‘Insert key for location’. Now Blender has stored the location for the 1st frame. If you noticed, the location area in the side panel is now yellow. This represents that there is some key-frame for this property. Also if you scrub in the timeline, you will notice a small yellow line at frame 1. This also shows that there is a key at this frame. In more technical language we say, ‘Cube has a location key at frame 1’. Blender has stored the location to be (0,0,0) at frame 1.


Now we will insert the 2nd key. If you try scrubbing the timeline you will notice that the number ‘after’ the Start and end frame is changing. This is the current frame. Click and type 48 inside the current frame setting. Now the green line will be at 48th frame. This frame also means 2 seconds. So at 48th frame we want our cube to be at right side. Now move the cube towards right side as you like. You can grab the right handle to move it. Once you are happy,  we will set that location as key-frame. So now press ‘I’ and then select ‘location’ in the menu.


This will insert a location key at 48th frame. You can notice that the timeline now has two yellow lines representing 2 keys. One at 1st frame and the other at 48th. Blender has done all the calculation for the frames between 1 and 48 and made the animation.

Just as a final step, in the End frame section, type 48. This will tell Blender to set the total animation from 1 to 48 frames.

Now if you hit the ‘Play’ button in the timeline you will see the cube moving.


Its moving, isn’t it?

Q: Yes, this is incredible!

Yes, you have just made your first 3D Animation. Blender has done all the ‘In-between’ frames calculation and did the animation for you. Isn’t it great? Now try doing different animations. I am here to help you. We will talk more on animation soon. See you next time.


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Posted by Mahesh Deshpande

Director at Advaita Studios Pvt. Ltd. Having wide career experience in Design, 3d graphics and animation, since 1998. Actively involved in various 3d graphics programs and training.

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