Creating Basic Animations In Blender [1]

This tutorial will explain to you basics about creating animations for The Sims 4 using Blender.

This tutorial is safe for people who never used Blender. Keep in mind that this is not the most optimal way to use Blender. You should consider looking up professional tutorials to learn more.

1. Download Blender

> Blender 2.79b - Download

2. Download Sims 4 Rigs

> Edited Male and Female Rig - Download

These are heavily edited Sims rigs that support custom tongue, penis, testicle, anus, and vagina movement. You’re free to use any other The Sims 4 rigs you can find.

Downloaded files with extension ’.blend’ can now be loaded directly to Blender.

3. Open rigs in Blender

Rig files with extension ’.blend’ can be simply loaded to Blender. After you install Blender, open one of the downloaded rigs.

In this tutorial only the ‘YOURNAME_Animation_Name_male’ and 'YOURNAME_Animation_Name_female’ files will be used.

3.1. Rig Technical Details

The rig comes with double usage of certain bones depending if you're animating a male or female Sim.

  • The vagina is animated using the 'b__Penis_Testicles', 'b__Penis_L_Testicle, 'b__Penis_R_Testicle' bones. Female Sim body has two dynamically switching models, one that has an animated vagina and one that doesn't have an animated vagina. The body used depends on the variable set in the actor XML ("animation_has_animated_vagina"). By default all animation actors DON'T use the animated vagina model to prevent issues with unwanted vagina movement if a role was designed for FEMALE+BOTH with testicle movement due to the bones being shared. If the male is animated with testicle movement, make sure to not allow animated vagina or prevent the role from being occupied by a female Sim.

4. This is the animation timeline

You use the timeline to move the time of your animation and add keyframes. To actually interact with created keyframes you need to use the 'Dope Sheet’ which will be explained later. Below the timeline, you will find numbers labeled 'Start’ and 'End’. 'Start’ is the frame your animation starts with and it always has to be set as 0. 'End’ is the frame that your animation ends with (duration or your animation). Note that this only applies to Blender and if you add keyframes past the animation duration they will be counted by Sims4Studio when exporting.

5. This is the Dope Sheet

On the left, you can change the visible editor to 'Dope Sheet’ and switch the mode to the 'Action Editor’. Dope Sheet/Action Editor is like an advanced timeline where you can move, copy and delete existing keyframes. More on that later.

6. This is your camera

Moving camera in Blender can be really complicated and there is a lot to learn about it, but here are the basics. By holding the Middle Mouse Button you can rotate the camera around. With the Scroll Wheel, you can move forward or backward. While holding the Shift button and holding the Middle Mouse Button at the same time you can move in space. This is in no way the most optimal way of operating the camera in Blender, but it should be enough for beginners.

7. These are bones

Before animating rigs, make sure to always select one by clicking on the icon of the actor you want to modify. The screenshot above shows the 'Outliner’ which contains all the objects in your scene. Any icon with a circle on it means that it is selected as the active object you’re modifying.

All the black dots on the Sim model are called 'bones’. You can select any bone by using the Right Mouse Button, it will get highlighted when it is selected.

8. Rotating bones

For purposes of this tutorial, we will be using the Rotation Tool, but this is not the only way to rotate bones. To enable the Rotation Tool you need to click on the icon showed on the screenshot above. If you don’t see the icon pointed by the arrow, click on the icon on the left, with lines colored in red, blue and green, to make the 'Rotation Tool’ icon visible. To move bones (don’t do this) you need to use the 'Translation Tool’ which will be explained later in this tutorial.

Once you select the 'Rotation Tool’ and one of the bones, you can rotate it by dragging one of the colored lines that are displayed around the bone. Try selecting different bones and see what you can move.

9. Even more rotating bones

Some bones can be clicked multiple times to access different bones that are placed in the same spot. An example is an eye, which with every click allows you to move the upper lid, bottom lid and the eye itself. To know that you’re selecting different bones, look at the name of the selected bone that is displayed at the bottom left corner of the 3D View.

10. Import second actor (or more)

Importing actors and objects allows you to align everything properly in one animation. Note that you can’t export the animation with multiple actors, but more on that later.

To import actors or objects:

10.1. Click 'File’ -> 'Append’.

10.2. Pick blend file that contains the actor/object you want to add (for example the female rig).

10.3. Open 'Objects’ folder and select the rig and body parts (rig, head, top, bottom, feet). To select multiple things hold the Shift key and click the things from the list.

10.4. Click the 'Link/Append from Library’ button.

You can import as many actors/objects as you want to one animation.

Remember that after importing actors (Sims) and/or objects you need to switch them to the 'Pose Mode’.

11. Move actors around

To move actors you need to select the root bone. There is nothing that would indicate the right one, you have to find it yourself and remember which one is it (for reference look at the video above). Once the root bone is selected, switch to the 'Translation Tool’ and move the sim by dragging one of the colored arrows around the selected bone.

Remember to never move objects, only actors!

12. First keyframe

A keyframe is basically a frame/pose of your animation. You can understand it as a pose that your Sim is at, before moving into another pose (keyframe).

The first frame has to start from the first frame position, so make sure your timeline is set to the farthest left. In addition, the screenshot above shows your active selected frame which should be displayed as “0” (zero). To create a keyframe you have to select all actor bones you’re creating the keyframe for. Select the rig of the actor and hover over its model with your mouse. Press the a” key on your keyboard to select all the bones, they should light up. Then press the i” key on your keyboard and select 'LocRot’ from the list. This saves all of the bones rotation values in a form of a keyframe.

That’s it, the first frame of your animation is done.

When you want to add more keyframes: 1. Move the active frame on the timeline few frames forward. 2. Move bones of the actor to make a new pose. 3. Select all the bones and 'LocRot’ again.

13. Delete, move and copy keyframes

To move, copy and delete keyframes you need to use the 'Dope Sheet’. There are multiple ways you can select keyframes on the 'Dope Sheet’, but you only need one to learn the basics. To select a keyframe (whole column with all the bones), hold the Alt key and click one of the diamond shapes with the Right Mouse Button. They will light up in orange when they are selected. While a keyframe is selected use: Key the g” button to move selected keyframe and place it somewhere else. Hold the Shift key and press the “d"  key to copy selected keyframe and place it somewhere else. Press the Delete key to delete the selected keyframe. You can select multiple keyframes if you hold the Shift and Alt keys together and click the Right Mouse Button on keyframes.

14. Handle multiple actors

Every rig has its own timeline with keyframes which means that you can’t export one animation with multiple actors. Every actor has to have its own animation file, so once you’re done with your animation, save and close Ble
Create a copy of your animation file per actor in your animation. For example, if you have two actors (a male and a female), create two copies. Then open each copy and remove other actors from it, leaving only one actor per animation file. Removing an actor means removing its rig from the file. The video above shows how to remove the model too, but that is not required. To select multiple things, hold the Shift key.

15. Exporting animations

Check the 'Converting Blender Animations to Clips’ tutorial on how to turn blend files into clips and clip headers to use them in the game.

Last update: July 19th, 2022

Files 3 MB
Mar 04, 2021

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