Lesson 1 - Setting Up Blender

Before discussing the mechanics of creating animations, it is important to have Blender configured to help with your animation workflow and that everything is in place to create your animations.

Installing Blender's Python Scripts

To create animations for YSFlight, you will need to have the YS Paint Scripts installed. You can verify that the scripts are installed by checking to see if you can export to .dnm or .srf formats (File -> Export -> .DNM / .SRF).

Setting Up Blender's User Interface

The default Blender User Interface (UI) is a good all-around screen layout. It has three main sections or windows in this layout: User Preferences (top), 3D View (middle) and Button Window (bottom). Each window has a multitude of menus, functions options and buttons and when we start working with Animations we will need to utilize more than what the default UI has for us.

Setting Up Blender's User Interface

The default Blender User Interface (UI) is a good all-around screen layout. It has three main sections or windows in this layout: User Preferences (top), 3D View (middle) and Button Window (bottom). Each window has a multitude of menus, functions options and buttons and when we start working with Animations we will need to utilize more than what the default UI has for us.

I have changed my UI quite a bit and it revolves around having 3 additional windows to perform animation-related tasks. No matter what happens when you are re-arranging your User Interface, Blender has this default UI stored and it can be reset via File -> Load Factory Settings.

IMPORTANT - When you finally get the User Interface the way you want it, select File -> Save Default Settings. This will take your current Blender environment and make it the default environment, including any models you are currently viewing.

Splitting Blender Windows

In order to add a new window into the UI, we must first split one of the windows.

  1. Slowly move your mouse over the border between windows. At some point you should see the mouse pointer change. On a Mac this change shows as a little hand rather than the normal cursor arrow. Unfortunately I was not able to capture this with my screenshot tool.
  2. Right-click to open the menu shown below.

3. Select Split Areas. You will now see a line appear in the window the mouse is currently hovering over. Position this line in the window you wish to split and then left-click. Note that a right-click will cancel the window splitting.

4. The new window that appears will be a duplicate of the window that you split. To change the window to show different things, click on the square at the bottom left or top left of the window. This opens the Window-Type menu where a new window can be selected to fill the space you have created.

Joining Windows

Sometimes we need to undo a window-splitting in order to re-arrange the Blender screen. This task is fairly straight forward following the steps below:

  1. Hover your mouse over the border between the two windows you wish to change. Note that these borders should be shared for their entire length. Referring back to the image of my setup, if I wanted to expand the 3D View window to cover the full width of the screen, I would first have to make the two windows on the right of the screen one window before then merging the 3D window with it. If you cannot merge the screens, you will see that when right clicking on the border between windows, the Join option will not be shown.
  2. Select Join. This will now show the join symbology in the window the mouse is hovering over (as shown below). Once you have the symbology in the correct window to get rid of, Left-Click in the window that you want removed.

Decaff's Setup

The setup I use has the following windows:

  • User Preferences (Top)
  • 3D View (Middle, Left)
  • Outliner (Middle, Right, Top)
  • Scripts (Middle, Right, Bottom)
  • Button (Bottom, Left)
  • IPO Curve Editor (Bottom, Right)

The scripts, outliner and curve editor windows are the ones I've added to the Default UI. The Outliner window allows me to view the properties assigned to each object in the Blender environment, including any animations, or parent-child relationships. The Scripts window gives me a place to activate the YSFlight scripts which I use for both modelling and animation creation. Lastly the IPO Curve Editor window lets me visualize and perform simple edits on an animation.

Wrapping Up

Play around with the different windows and layouts you can create in Blender. When you are done and have settled on your UI, select File -> Save Default Settings. This will take your current Blender environment and make it the default environment, including any models you are currently viewing.

When ready, you can proceed to the next lesson!