Character animation

In this final lesson, we'll use Godot's built-in animation tools to make our characters float and flap. You'll learn to design animations in the editor and use code to make your game feel alive.


We'll start with an introduction to using the animation editor.

Using the animation editor

The engine comes with tools to author animations in the editor. You can then use the code to play and control them at runtime.

Open the player scene, select the Player node, and add an AnimationPlayer node.

The Animation dock appears in the bottom panel.


It features a toolbar and the animation drop-down menu at the top, a track editor in the middle that's currently empty, and filter, snap, and zoom options at the bottom.

Let's create an animation. Click on Animation -> New.


Name the animation "float".


Once you've created the animation, the timeline appears with numbers representing time in seconds.


We want the animation to start playback automatically at the start of the game. Also, it should loop.

To do so, you can click the button with an "A+" icon in the animation toolbar and the looping arrows, respectively.


You can also pin the animation editor by clicking the pin icon in the top-right. This prevents it from folding when you click on the viewport and deselect the nodes.


Set the animation duration to 1.2 seconds in the top-right of the dock.


You should see the gray ribbon widen a bit. It shows you the start and end of your animation and the vertical blue line is your time cursor.


You can click and drag the slider in the bottom-right to zoom in and out of the timeline.


The float animation

With the animation player node, you can animate most properties on as many nodes as you need. Notice the key icon next to properties in the Inspector. You can click any of them to create a keyframe, a time and value pair for the corresponding property. The keyframe gets inserted where your time cursor is in the timeline.

Let's insert our first keys. Here, we will animate both the position and the rotation of the Character node.

Select the Character and in the Inspector expand the Transform section. Click the key icon next to Position, and Rotation.



For this tutorial, just create RESET Track(s) which is the default choice

Two tracks appear in the editor with a diamond icon representing each keyframe.


You can click and drag on the diamonds to move them in time. Move the position key to 0.2 seconds and the rotation key to 0.1 seconds.


Move the time cursor to 0.5 seconds by clicking and dragging on the gray timeline.


In the Inspector, set the Position's Y axis to 0.65 meters and the Rotation' X axis to 8.


Create a keyframe for both properties


Now, move the position keyframe to 0.7 seconds by dragging it on the timeline.



A lecture on the principles of animation is beyond the scope of this tutorial. Just note that you don't want to time and space everything evenly. Instead, animators play with timing and spacing, two core animation principles. You want to offset and contrast in your character's motion to make them feel alive.

Move the time cursor to the end of the animation, at 1.2 seconds. Set the Y position to about 0.35 and the X rotation to -9 degrees. Once again, create a key for both properties.


You can preview the result by clicking the play button or pressing Shift + D. Click the stop button or press S to stop playback.


You can see that the engine interpolates between your keyframes to produce a continuous animation. At the moment, though, the motion feels very robotic. This is because the default interpolation is linear, causing constant transitions, unlike how living things move in the real world.

We can control the transition between keyframes using easing curves.

Click and drag around the first two keys in the timeline to box select them.


You can edit the properties of both keys simultaneously in the Inspector, where you can see an Easing property.


Click and drag on the curve, pulling it towards the left. This will make it ease-out, that is to say, transition fast initially and slow down as the time cursor reaches the next keyframe.


Play the animation again to see the difference. The first half should already feel a bit bouncier.

Apply an ease-out to the second keyframe in the rotation track.


Do the opposite for the second position keyframe, dragging it to the right.


Your animation should look something like this.



Animations update the properties of the animated nodes every frame, overriding initial values. If we directly animated the Player node, it would prevent us from moving it in code. This is where the Pivot node comes in handy: even though we animated the Character, we can still move and rotate the Pivot and layer changes on top of the animation in a script.

If you play the game, the player's creature will now float!

If the creature is a little too close to the floor, you can move the Pivot up to offset it.

Controlling the animation in code

We can use code to control the animation playback based on the player's input. Let's change the animation speed when the character is moving.

Open the Player's script by clicking the script icon next to it.


In _physics_process(), after the line where we check the direction vector, add the following code.

func _physics_process(delta):
    if direction != Vector3.ZERO:
        $AnimationPlayer.speed_scale = 4
        $AnimationPlayer.speed_scale = 1

This code makes it so when the player moves, we multiply the playback speed by 4. When they stop, we reset it to normal.

We mentioned that the Pivot could layer transforms on top of the animation. We can make the character arc when jumping using the following line of code. Add it at the end of _physics_process().

func _physics_process(delta):
    $Pivot.rotation.x = PI / 6 * velocity.y /