Animating in Layers

lets say that i have two chess peices. A King, and a Pawn. I put my King in layer 1, and my Pawn in layer 2. Is there a way that i can animate each layer seperatly, then combine them? Any help is appreciated, or if you can point me to a tutorial, or post.

windows xp
blender 2.42

Why would you want to? Blender’s layers have nothing to do with the final outcome of the render (unlike photoshop layers), they just make complex scenes easier to manage. (Although lights can be set to effect only things in the same layer as the light.)

i wouldn’t want to seperate an animation as simple as my explination, but i do have animation that are very complex. i just tried to explain what i wanted in a very simple way.

I think you would want to do that in compositing. It’s a semi-new feature in blender. In that it is sort of like photoshops layers.

Quick question. Do you want to make 2 animated scenes and have them one after the other or have the animations overlap? For the overlap you need the compositing and node structure I believe.

atm-matt, i want to have the animations overlap. That way if i have ten different animations, and i mess up one object or one layer. i can change just that thing instead of re-animating the entire scene.

is there a tutorial or something that would teach me how to do this?

Sounds like you need to learn about actions and the NLA editor.

Actions can act as the “layers” you’re thinking about.’


Action 1 - animate a ball bouncing up and down

Action 2 - animate the ball moving horizontally

Then mix the actions in the NLA editor.

Similarly for a character, split up the “actions” of the character into Blender actions.

Also for anything longer than a test animation, you’re best to split up the animation into seperate files, each file being no more than about 30-seconds, to a minute roughly speaking. Maybe even less, as you can really only work on 5-10 seconds of animation at a time, and that will likely take you hours, so saving multiple small files is better than one big one.

At the end you’d render each small file individually then combine them with either the sequence editor or another video NLA editor.

Take a look at the Intro to Character Animation (link in my signature), and particularly the section on the NLA editor :


I just want to get doubly certain. Say your chess game has all the players, in one layer you want the king to do his moves. In the next layer you want the pawn to do his moves, next layer queen etc etc. After all that you overlap all the layers and have a full chess game?

I’m in about the same boat as you unfortunately :frowning: I know only the bare minimums about using node editor and compositing in blender but I have been trying to learn. I have all these book marked when the time comes I actually want to sit down and try and learn it!
(scroll down halfway where he gives a layout of how he set it all up). I believe something like the xray would do nicely for the chess concept. You render the chessboard as 1 layer, render the king as another, the pawn as another and literally overlap them.

I downloaded it but haven’t watched it yet :frowning:
I’ve gotten through half of this so far and it is giving a nice rundown of everything.

I wish I could describe it better but I only know a little about it still and I haven’t gotten much help other than google is your friend…

Hope this helps!

Actually, sorry, I missed part of your post. The post below about render layers may still be helpful, so I’ll leave it, but if you want to do an entire animation and then go back and change parts, then you should render the render layers out in full animations (you can turn on the option to render only a selected render layer at a time in the Render Layers dropdown) and then composite them in the Sequence editor, which has much less powerful compositing options but will do the basic job of alpha-over and stuff like that.

Now on to the original post, in case it’s of use:

Separate your king and your pawn to separate layers (Layer 1 and Layer 2). Go to Render Layers in the render buttons and associate Render Layer 1 with Layer 1, and add a new Render Layer, Render Layer 2, and associate that one with Layer 2 (this should be self explanatory when you see how the buttons are laid out. The upper button set is actual layers, just as a visual aid, and the lower button set is the layers that correspond to that Render Layer.

Then open up a Node Editor window, Select the render button (little picture button) and click Use Nodes. A Render Layer input node and a Composite output node will appear. The input node will be Render Layer 1 by default. Press the space bar and add a new input Render Layer node, and select Layer 2. Now you’ve got two input nodes. Press space bar again and add whatever node you want to use to combine them. For example, Color > Alpha Over. That will let you put one above the other (although, in the node input, the top image is actually plugged into the bottom plug, so heads up on this). Output from that should go into the Composite Node.

You will probably also want to add an output Viewer node, which will allow you to view the output of any node. You can view this output (after you’ve rendered the render layers once) in the UV/Image editor.

Cool things > each Render Layer has a selection available of what it renders. You can toggle halos, edges, etc on and off. So you could render your edge only on one render layer and use that as an input in the nodes system, or whatever. Also, once you’ve rendered your render layers, you can futz around with the nodes all you like and your final rendered output will change accordingly.

When you render with nodes, be sure to select “Do Composite” in the render buttons.

wow! thanks everyone. i’m going to have to take some time out, and check all this out. Mike S, i’ve actually done that tutorial, and i want to give the person who made it a big hug, cause it’s the best thing ever. atm-matt, now i’m in the same boat as you, cause i’m downlaoding all the vids, and i’ll have to watch them. bugman i’m going to deffinelty chck out the sequence editor, and see what i can do with it. much thanks!
real quick question: what format do you guys use for your animations, and pics. i use avi raw, 24 frams a sec, full. what pic do you think would look best as a backbuf?

You’ll probably want to use PNG or Targa, because they encode alpha values. I’m not sure about how avi raw handles alpha values. I use PNGs. Rendering your initial animation to still frames is better for a lot of reasons. You wind up with a directory full of stills, which are very easy to import to the sequence editor (shift-A > add images, select the stills. Best if each sequence is rendered to its own directory though, then you can select all the stills with the A key. So give the render output field a unique directory name for each sequence).

Once you’ve done your compositing/editing/whatever in the sequence editor, you can output to a movie file. Avi raw is uncompressed and will be too big for anything you’ll ever want to use it for. You can’t distribute it on the internet in that format, it’s not even what goes on a DVD. DivX and XviD are good codecs for distributing on the internet. Output to .avi and select one of these codecs (provided you have them installed). If you’re going to use this in something like final cut pro you should go for Quicktime Animation codec. Avi jpeg is a slightly big but nice quality codec and just about everybody can always play it, so for certain kinds of distribution this is good (but too big for streaming stuff like YouTube, and kind of a pain in the neck to make people download).