Creating 3D Animated Text With Blender

We’re not going to lie; Blender is probably one of the most daunting programs to get started with. Once you really master it, you can get professional-level animated video, but if you are just starting out, it can be tough to figure out all the controls and options. With that in mind, we want to start you off simple with a tutorial that doesn’t require too much background experience with the program.

  • Open Blender, and click into the 3D plane. Just a reminder, the mouse button configuration is different than most other programs: you right-click to select objects, whereas left clicking and holding allows you to adjust your orientation on the 3D plane.

  • Hit Shift+C to center your cursor; this way you can make sure that your text will be located directly at the center of the plane, making for easier reference points.

  • Hit Shift+A to bring up your menu and select Text to bring up the text editor, and type in whatever words you want animated. Once you have finished typing, hit Tab to exit text edit mode and return your editor to Object mode.

  • To rotate the text to a vertical position, type R for rotate, and X to indicate you’re rotating on the x-axis. You can either rotate the text with the mouse or type in the number of degrees you want to rotate, which in this case is 90.

  • Going to the Properties menu on the right hand side of the screen, select the “F” icon to bring up the text properties. You can give your text its third dimension by increasing the Extrude value, and adjust the bevel on the edge with the Depth control, and by setting the Resolution to 1, you will smooth out the edges.

  • Center your text by scrolling to the bottom of the Text properties control, finding the Paragraph menu, then under Align, choose Center. This assures that your text is perfectly centered along the axes.

  • It’s time to add color to the text. In the properties window, click Materials, which is the circle icon right next to the text icon. From the menu, click on New and you can select the Diffuse color and select the color from the color palette by clicking the rectangle below the word “Diffuse” which is currently set to white.

  • To make the text visible in an animation, you need to create a light source. Start by putting your cursor where you want the light source to be, and left-click to place the cursor there. Then hit Shift+A, and select Lamp. Once you have created your light source, you can adjust its position by left-clicking any of the colored arrows and dragging the lamp along that axis.

  • Now that the text is properly lit, we need a camera to capture it. The process is almost identical to creating a light source, so again set your cursor location and click Shift+A, but this time choose Camera from the menu. Again, you can move the camera to wherever you’d like to start your shot.

  • Rather than the basic grey background, you can change the background color. In the Properties menu, select World (the icon looks like a globe), click on the rectangle below Horizon Color (it is currently the grey background) and simply choose your color from the color palette that pops up. When you have selected the color you want, go back to the Render menu (the icon looks like a camera), and click Render to apply the color to the background.

  • To start animating the text, you’ll use the timeline tool, which is at the bottom of the window. Assuming your camera is placed properly, click the letter I to insert a keyframe. If you want to avoid the keyboard and use your mouse, select Object > Animation > Insert Keyframe.

  • Moving forward on your timeline (we recommend doing about a second at a time), set the new camera position and insert the next keyframe for as much motion as you want. You can do this as many times as you want, but make sure not to move too much too fast.

  • Once you have set as many keyframes as you want, it is time to render the video. So once again from the Render tab in the Properties menu, look for the Dimensions header, and pick an end frame that is close to your last Keyframe. The default is 250, but your animation is probably much shorter, so look for the frame number at the bottom of the timeline.

  • Create your final video by clicking the Animation button. If you are going to incorporate this animation into a larger video project, you can export it as PNG, which is a succession of PNG images, which can then be processed by video programs like FinalCutPro or Sony Vegas. If you just want the animation as its own video file, choose a more traditional video format like mpeg, QuickTime, or AVI Raw.