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I'm having trouble finding a good, newbie friendly description of what a keying set is exactly and how it fits into the animation workflow. I first discovered keying sets when trying to add a keyframe to an armature and getting the error "No active Keying Set".

This prompted me to search the wiki which only has a link pointing to the article Animating in 2.5, Getting to grips with Keying Sets, which I found overly complex for a non power user.

When and why do I have to use a keying set, and what is the purpose behind them?

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A keying set is a collection of properties which should be keyed together. E.g. if you want to animate an object's position you need to set a start-keyframe of the initial location and an end-keyframe of the final position. The position is described as x,y,z coordinate Location is a keying-set that inserts x,y and z at once.

In this image you see (Dope Sheet in the upper part) a location keyed for frame 1 and rotation for frame 2 both were inserted by pressing I and selecting Location respectively Rotation.

enter image description here

If the object should also rotate you can user LocRot to insert location and rotation at once. The other features described by Leon cover arbitrary properties (almost everything can be animated in blender). Later you might want to animate color, transparency of a material then you would need to learn more about it. For the time being this should provide you a basic idea.

Related: What do the preferences keyframing options actually mean?

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  • $\begingroup$ Great answer, thanks. Do you know if other 3D programs use keying sets, or are they unique to Blender? $\endgroup$ – Marcus Gorillius Mar 9 '14 at 13:59
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Keying Set is used for inserting/deleting keyframes for specific property channels on specific datablocks, without having to select them in advance.

By default, there are some commonly-used keying sets listed at the right hand side of the header in Timeline editor, such as Location, LotRot, Available, etc. Once you add new keying sets from the Keying Sets panel in Scene tab, it can be displayed or used in the Timeline list, as well as in I menu. In animation workflow, it is more effective when using with AutoKey feature.

After creating a keying set, a new Active Keying Set panel will pop up below it for defining specific data path for certain targets:

enter image description here

If a datablock is keyable, you can see related items in context menu when right clicking on it, so that you can add/remove keying set easily:

enter image description here

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