Join Craig Barr for an in-depth discussion in this video The Content Browser, part of Unreal Essential Training (2016).
- The Content Browser is the primary area of the Unreal editor for creating, importing, organizing, viewing, and modifying content assets within Unreal editor. It also provides the ability to manage content folders and perform other useful operations on assets, such as renaming, moving, copying, or even viewing references. The Content Browser can search for and interact with all assets in the game. Now by default in the user interface layout within Unreal Engine 4 here we are in the editor, we're going to see that we have our Modes panel, we have our toolbar, we have our viewport, we also have our Outliner up here on the top right, top bottom is our Details section, and by default the Content Browser will exist here in this bottom left corner, which actually takes a part of kind of central location here as well of the user interface.
This is a primary component of the workability, or the workflow within Unreal Engine 4. Now why is the Content Browser such a big deal? Well this is where all of the assets that exist for your current project or what you're going to create for your project live. Now if you're familiar with other 3D packages, for example Maya 3D Studio, 3DS Max, you may find that they have a similar project directory structure where scene files are saved, objects can be saved, source images or texture maps are saved.
This works a lot in the same way, except that this is the core of your project, this is the core of your game. And every level that you create always references back to your project Content Browser. And these are all of the assets that we have within this current project that I have right now. So this sample file that I'm running is chapter two 02 Begin. Now this is simply just a start scene that's accessing the content for this project if you have access to those files.
Now what you're going to find here is that this directory, this main directory called Content has a few different folders in here that are important to the construction of our project. For example, I'm in the Models directory currently right now. You can see on the left that this is going to list out all of the directory structure that exists. On the right it's going to give you a peek inside what is within that directory structure. Now I can view this at the same time in two different ways. I can actually open this up in here, you can see that effectively I'm seeing the same directory structure, or sub-directories for Models if you will on the left, as well as in the right.
But I'm also seeing any files that maybe just sitting here. So these are static meshes, these are proxy meshes that exist within here. This side of the panel is only concerned with the directory structure, it's not going to show you any ambient files or files that are sitting within there. This side over here is going to show you all the content within that sub-directory. You can see on top here as well, if you're familiar with working within Windows, or perhaps even a Mac environment, you get something that's very familiar to all of us, and that is this directory structure that you can hop in between.
So you can actually click on one of the arrows and just rapidly switch to any of them at any time via the top path component or within this directory structure here in this panel. Now let's take a look at how this works within the Content Browser and why the Content Browser is so important for the organization of our assets. Well as we can see we have these directory structures here, we have everything neatly organized, so for example with our Materials we have them categorized by the different type of material that is required for those different assets.
For example, Buildings, Effects, Foliage, Props, and Rocks. If we dive into the Rocks folder we'll see that we have three different materials that exist for our Rock props. And the nice thing is this gives us a nice live preview within the Content Browser of what's happening within the project directory. And to see that we can actually look at things like some of our Effects materials. Now I'm not sure how well you can see that, but if I come to the bottom right hand corner I can scale the size of those thumbnails just by grabbing the Thumbnail Scale and bringing that up.
And you might be able to see that we're getting a little bit of a glow effect happening live within that viewport. And something interesting there as well, you'll see if we go to the Materials, Foliage you'll see that our materials that have dynamics to them are actually working live within the Content Browser. So this is a great way to preview not just what the material is, but also what it does. So if it has any dynamic life to it, for example any animation or effects applied to it, in this case wind, we can see that actually interacting with the material.
It's a nice way to work. Now we looked at this directory structure here on the left, and we looked at the ability to dive into those folders here within this main panel, let's also take a look at some of the ways that we can rapidly search or find objects in here to work with. So for example if I'm in my Models directory I know that somewhere within here I'm working with a rowboat, so I can simply just start typing rowboat and there's my rowboat that's going to come up. Now of interest here, if I'm at the top root in the Content directory here you'll see that I still have my filter typed in, I was typing in rowboat, and it's found everything that is finding that tag.
So there's a rowboat model asset, the Static Mesh, here's a rowboat Material, and then we have different texture maps that are used to assemble that material. So anything to do with rowboat I can rapidly find and I can dig down and filter specifically by just diving into Models for example, or even using filters over here. I can say if I want to find specifically a Static Mesh, or a Texture of that rowboat, or even Materials, whatever it may be I can dial it down into the filters there.
Or in this case I wanted to find the model for rowboat, so I just clicked on the Models directory, and it's only going to indicate rowboat models. Materials, if I click on that it's going to highlight those as well. So let's get rid of that while we're there. Now another thing here in this side panel if I right-click inside this side panel this is where we get access to a whole menu structure within the Content Browser. And this is where we can do a lot of very useful things. The Content Browser is not just simply a structure of directories.
Here you can actually create assets. So for example I could create a brand new folder, I could create a whole new asset, live within the Content Browser I could come in here and I could create animation, a blueprint object, I could even go down and create a new material or texture. So I can do this live within the Content Browser, which really opens up the flexibility of how you create and organize and manage your assets within the Unreal Engine 4 world. So yes, the Content Browser, I know I've said this already, but very important to get familiar with, and one of the areas of the user interface that you really want to focus your time in to really get comfortable with and understand how it works.
Now a couple other features that we have in here. At any time while I'm working in here if I want to organize some of my assets here I could simply Rename a folder, or I could even Set a Color. So for my materials for example I want that to pop out, maybe I want to keep it kind of a red color, let's just adjust that and hit OK. I now have a red Materials folder that's very quick and easy for me to identify if this structure was quite large. And of course I could do that with any of the different folders in here as well. Now back to right-mouse button click and you'll see that we have a couple of other options that we can work with in here.
Now one of the things that is very important here is this Save All. I can come into my Content Browser, I can organize, I can create, and I can manage assets. Now if I change anything within here I can actually save all of those assets live within the Content Browser. Now that's important. That's a little different than just saving a scene file, you're actually saving the way that your directory structure for your project is assembled or constructed. So you're saving everything to disk, to where you have your directory for your content whenever I click that Save all.
Of course, I could do a bulk operation like a Delete an entire folder and all the assets within there if I really wanted to, but I can also do something really interesting here and I can use the Migrate function. Now what Migrate is going to do is if I have another project where I want to be able to take all of these assets and all of their dependencies, and I want to move them to an entirely different group of content I can simply do that. I can use this Migrate function and actually share this between projects. It's a very valuable thing to work with and it's a lot easier than dealing with it at the root level within your operating system where you have to copy or drag and worry about any dependencies there.
Migrate live within the Content Browser here in Unreal Engine 4 will take care of that for you. Now let's look at some other functionality here within the Content Browser. Some other things that are important when you're working within this course, if you have access to the files, you're going to have access to all of these different Models, Textures, and Materials here as we've looked at in the Content Browser, but just somethings to note regardless. At anytime within Unreal Engine 4 you have access to many default assets that are there at all times within a default empty scene.
Those actually live back in this bottom right hand corner, View Options, let's just click that. So if we dive into this we'll see that we have a way that we can organize how we want to view everything, I've viewing everything by Tiles, we can of course look at it by List, and we can of course look at this by Columns, or a detail view of everything in there as well. Now let's get back here to Tiles. Now most importantly here I mentioned other content. There is a bunch of content that's actually hidden that exists within a default Content Browser.
So if I come in here and I go Folders, I want to show all my folders, but I want to also show some of the other content. So if I click Show Engine Content, for example, you'll see that I get these other directories. In here are a bunch of very useful tools that you can explore, take the time and dig through. Things like different ArtTools, even EditorMeshes, like default Planes, different Cubes and Cylinders, different shapes that you can work with. So there's a way that you can access these different things. If you're into C++ programming it has different Classes in a folder here for you as well, and I can simply click View Options and show some other folders here.
So I can show the Developers Folder, which actually has other assets in there. And the Plugin Content. So in here we can access all the different default plugins that exist for Unreal Engine 4. So there's a quick kind of dive into the Content Browser and how important it is for working within your project, how you can manage, organize, create, and work with your assets within your project within Unreal Engine 4.
- 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