Join Craig Barr for an in-depth discussion in this video Blueprint Editor, part of Unreal Essential Training.
- "Blueprints" is visual scripting paradigm within Unreal Engine 4, and this is a very powerful, robust system that allows developers and artists to essentially create complex code in a much less complicated manner. So the way Blueprints work is much the way that other, node-based editing applications within Unreal Engine 4 work. So if you're familiar with the material editor, you should have a basic understanding as to how this will work in the Blueprint world. So we're going to take a look at a tour of the Blueprint interface and how that operates.
In this case here, in the scene that I'm running, if we scroll down through the World Outliner and look in here for this lighthouse light, this is what we've built previously within our setup here. Where we built this nice little lighting setup that gives this kind of off-set beam as you can see here. And what this will allow us to do is provide the overall lighthouse light effect for our scene. But we want to control that and add some animation to this. Now there are a couple ways that we can do that. The best way to provide overall, like a procedural control to this animation, is to take advantage of Blueprints here in Unreal.
So if you find that, let's go down and just actually close off all of these things here. Scroll down through the World Outliner and look for lighthouse light. Then simply click on the "edit lighthouse Blueprint." And that's going to allow you to open up Blueprint. So if we click on that, you're going to get a UI, or a user interface, much like this one. Just like any other editor, I prefer to grab this tab and just dock it right at the top to give you kind of the full screen view to be able to work with it. And in this case here, we're just going to take a quick tour as to what is going on in the user interface.
Now as I mentioned, what you're going to see right off the bat if you open the EventGraph tab up above here, is that you're going to see something that looks familiar to you if you're used to working within other editors in Unreal Engine 4, such as the Material Editor. And this is a node-based scripting graph where you can simply wire together or link together different nodes to create the effect that you're going after. Now let's take a quick UI tour here. At the top, we have what is referred to as the usual menu set here within Unreal Engine 4. And, this is much the same throughout the editor that you'll find throughout the user interface.
Now of course we have our tool bar across the top. This contains many of the same icons that you're familiar with everywhere else, such as the save icon, the ability to search within the content browser, or find an object within a content browser, and the ability to search throughout to find specific functions or variables, for example, within your Blueprint settings. Of course, then we also have a simulation and play up here as well, which will allow you to simulate and play what's happening within your visual scripting. Most importantly on this toolbar is this one up here on the left.
And this is the compile node. So any time you hook something up within visual scripting, you'll need to compile this code. And this is the exact same as what happens in traditional programming or scripting, where with a console, a developer or programmer puts down a series of lines of code, and in the end they will need to compile that code for it to provide the operations that are sought after for your scene. So no different with this: we have a node-based visual scripting language. Everything needs to be compiled before you'll see any kind of interaction within your viewport.
So that's important to remember, and we'll cover that a little later on here. Now up in the left-hand corner, this represents the components. And this is the components of the Blueprint itself. And this is where we would see any kind of components linked up to the viewport level, or up to the geometry-based level if you will. So for example, back into our main UI here, we see our viewport, we know we have our light, and we see that we have the lighthouse light. If I click on that in the outliner, we'll see that down in the details, we have this component's view as well.
And that lists out all our components that comprise that lighthouse light. That, after all, is just simply an empty actor if you recall, and we stacked in a bunch of different components in here to assemble this overall light. Now back in our Blueprint, we're bringing in all of those components and we're using this to drive some animation or whatever it is that we may want to do with visual scripting. So this component window is important. Down below here is my Blueprint tab. And this is going to show you everything to do with your Blueprint, all the different elements that exist.
For example, variables or functions that you might describe or use to drive different components of your Blueprint that you're creating. And, of course, much like all the other editors within Unreal Engine 4 is the details tab. And this, of course, is where we can edit things like all of the different attributes, parameters, and properties related to the nodes that you're creating. I should also point out a bit of a different area here within this editor, and that is we have this EventGraph as I mentioned, this is much like what you'd be familiar with when working with materials in the Material Editor.
Same principles, same idea. It's a 2-D based environment, and you can zoom in and out with the middle mouse button and quickly pan around with the right mouse button in there. There's also this Construction Script Editor. And this is a different interface within the UI or the interface for Blueprints in that you can work with specific scripts that you can add in here. So this is where you could actually go in and add your own custom construction scripts that can link into your EventGraph. And then, of course, we have a viewport node. And this is going to show the specific aspects or components of the Blueprint you're working with.
In this case here in this example, we're working with these components that we constructed earlier for our lighthouse lights. And this has all of our different point lights that are driving the lighting around the capital, or the top part of the lighthouse, and then our spotlights that are driving the overall beam of light, and then two pieces of geometry, or a piece of geometry that's essentially like a tube that the spotlight is filling with light and a simple texture is fading off the end, to kind of drive or define that overall kind of columned or tubular look of our lighthouse beams.
Now, if we wanted to take this further and add some animation with it, we'd typically want to work within the EventGraph. So, once again, taking a look at Blueprints with the user interface here, the tool bar is your basic component here, and at the end of creating anything that you do within this editor space, you want to make sure that you hit "compile" in order to be able to take advantage of what you've just created with visual scripting.
- Customizing the Unreal UI
- Creating a new project
- Creating landscapes
- Blocking out levels
- Assembling a scene
- Working with materials and lights
- Adding post-processing effects
- Defining bodies of water
- Adding atmospherics, foliage, and wind
- Working with the Blueprint editor
- Creating cinematics
- Monitoring performance
- Packaging a game for distribution