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Use this tag for questions or issues pertaining to animation and Blender's animation system.

Animation is the process of taking models and causing them to move, and/or adding camera movement to a scene. Animation is what turns a still shot into a movie.

There are a number of forms of animation available within Blender:

  • Keyframing is the most basic form of animation. You can insert keyframes on various properties of an object, such as its location, rotation, color, or transparency, to allow the object to change state over time. For example, you could insert a Location keyframe at (0, 0, 0) at frame 1 and another with (1, 2, 3) at frame 24. Then, playing the animation would result in the object moving one unit to the right, two units back, and three units up over a period of one second. You can use keyframe animation on any object, including the camera.

    Further topics to look into with respect to keyframing include:

    • Interpolation, which defines how the values between the keyframes are calculated
    • The NLA editor, which allows you to duplicate, modify, and mix animations like objects
  • Mesh deformation goes beyond moving whole objects, allowing you to instead change the shape of objects. You can do this either with shape keys or with armatures. Shape keys allow you to specify various positions for a mesh (for example, a face mesh could have keys for smiling and raising eyebrows) that can be manipulated and animated numerically. Armatures allow you to insert invisible "bones" into a mesh, which can then be animated with normal keyframing techniques. The position and rotation of the bones will affect how the mesh is deformed.

  • Constraint-based animation makes use of Blender's system of constraints to affect the position, rotation, and even scale of your objects. Constraint-based animation is rarely, if ever, used alone, but combined with other objects and techniques, it can be a powerful tool. Constraints allow you to easily perform such tasks as having a camera track an object, or having objects move along a path.
  • Physical simulation allows you to treat objects as physically accurate representations of real-world entities. You can use physical simulation to simulate various types of systems, including fluids, smoke, and cloth. The methods of animating with physical simulation vary with the simulation type, but it all starts with the Physics panel (bouncing ball icon at the far right of the Properties panel).

You can read more about animation in the manual.