The Animation Nodes (AN) addon is a node based visual scripting system designed for motion graphics in Blender. The main goal of this project is to have a very customizable and extendable node framework. You can use it as powerful driver alternative, text manipulator, animation replicator, etc.
To give you an impression what this means, look at the image below. You a node editor. This time not for materials or compositing but the Animation Nodes Node Editor. On the right you see all kinds of categories that contain nodes, like Number, Text, Rotation, Boolean, Object, Mesh, Material, Sound, Animation, and more. On the right you see a few examples of nodes and in some nodes there is a picker to select something in your scene. So this means what we can manipulate a lot of things in our scene with these nodes.
Download and installation
To download Animation Nodes (AN), go to GitHub. There you look for the latest version. At the time of writing that is: v2.1.4 test builds for Blender 2.8. Be sure you have also the latest Blender version. For now, go to the daily builds.
After downloading you open Blender and go to Edit > Preferences > Addons > Install. Navigate to the zip-file you downloaded from github. So that is like most other addons. In case you are going to uninstall Animation nodes (to update for example), just click on the info button to see the steps.
How to start with AN?
AN is not really an addon like many others. This time we cannot enjoy the addon within 10 minutes without any help. It looks overwhelming, but I am pretty sure with the right explanation you save some time. Of course I can not provide that at the moment, but I can contribute a tiny bit.
You see that there is a new editor type. You know, where you usually go to open another editor like compositing, or material nodes, etc. Open the Animation Nodes editor and press New to create a new node tree. Then, if you press Shift+A you can add nodes.
Probably the easiest way to get a grasp of it, is to look for examples and replicate them. That will make it easier to follow tutorials and makes everything less overwhelming. For example you can visit the manual, and look for examples (click next, next, next). Here some examples below.
Documentation and other sources
- Documentation: AN Manual.
- Blender Artists: Animation Nodes thread.
- Jacques Lucke on YouTube: Animation Nodes Addon for Blender (These are from 2014, so partly deprecated.)
- YouTube search, filter on latest: Animation Nodes Tutorial.
AN is amazing but also overwhelming. I hope I saved you a little bit of time by giving the idea on how to start. Once familiar with AN, I believe it is a very powerful tool to make animations. Thanks to Jacques lucke!