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Unreal Engine 4 Beginner's Guide

Here you will learn the basics and how to use Unreal Engine 4, a beginner's guide on: the tools and editors, navigation, level designing, materials and textures, Blueprints visual scripting, and more...

Introduction

Before, starting this guide, I need to give you same important advice that will help you on the long run. First, Unreal Engine 4 has unlimited power and capabilities, you can create a large number of projects with it, from games and applications to movies and architectural projects, if you have the necessary knowledge and imagination you can create almost anything you set your mind on. Second, Unreal Engine 4 is not a simple software that you can learn in a day, a week or even a month, to learn this amazing software you need to have and give a large portion of your time, it can take months or even years to master and fully understand all the features, so be patient.


Level Editor

The default interface layout consists of 7 main working areas

Unreal Engine 4 Default Interface Layout

1. Tab and Menu Bar - provides access to general tools and commands

2. Toolbar panel - provides access to commonly used tools and operations

3. Modes panel - different editing modes the Level Editor can be put into

4. Viewports - here you design the game levels (graphics)

5. World Outliner - displays all of the actors within a scene

6. Details panel - contains information and utilities, specific to the current selection

7. Content Browser - primary area for creating, importing, organizing, viewing and modifying assets

To start your first level design, go to Modes Tab > Geometry > choose an actor and drag it into the Viewport. Now, the new actor is selected in the World Outliner and you can see different details for it in the Details panel, whatever changes you will make to the object in the Details panel it will have an effect in the Viewport, for instance, if you change the scale from 1 to 5 on one axis or on all you will see that the object is now larger.

Standard Viewport Controls

LMB + Drag - Moves the camera forward and backward and rotates left and right

RMB + Drag - Rotates the viewport camera

LMB + RMB + Drag - Moves up and down

WASD Fly Controls

All of these controls are only valid in a Perspective viewport, and by default you must hold RMB to use the WASD game-style controls

W / Numpad8 / Up - Moves the camera forward

S / Numpad2 / Down - Moves the camera backward

A / Numpad4 / Left - Moves the camera left

D / Numpad6 / Right - Moves the camera right

E / Numpad9 / Page Up - Moves the camera up

Q / Numpad7 / Page Dn - Moves the camera down

Z / Numpad1 - Zooms the camera out

C / Numpad3 - Zooms the camera in


Getting Started with the Tools and Editors in Unreal Engine 4

There are 14 commonly used editors in Unreal Engine 4, depending on what project you will be developing you may use some or all of them, therefore, below you will find an overview of each editor.

Level Editor - in this editor you will construct the visual part of your game, you can add actors, geometry and other elements, the main purpose of this editor is to help you build your game levels, when you create or open a project, this editor is open by default

Material Editor - in this editor you create or edit materials (What are materials? They are assets that can be applied to a mesh to control its visual look)

Texture Properties Editor - allows you to preview a Texture asset and edit its properties

Blueprint Editor - this is the editor used to create or edit Blueprints (What are Blueprints? They are assets that can be used to create new types of actors and/or script level events, they are mainly used instead of C++ coding)

UMG UI Editor - the user interface editor is where you create your UI elements such as in-game HUDs, menus or other interface related graphics

Static Mesh Editor - this editor is used to preview and manipulate the properties of Static Meshes

Sound Cue Editor - here you can combine and mix several sound assets to produce a single mixed output saved as a Sound Cue

Cascade Editor - this is the particle effects editor, here you can create even the most complex effects

Behavior Tree Editor - here you can script Artificial Intelligence through a visual node-based system

Sequencer Editor - create in-game cinematics with a specialized multi-track editor

Persona Editor - the editor used for creating animation

Physics Asset Tool Editor - this editor is used for creating Physics Assets that will be used with Skeletal Meshes

Paper2D Sprite Editor - in this editor you can edit the Paper 2D Sprites (a quick and easy way to draw 2D images in Unreal Engine 4)

Paper2D Flipbook Editor - here you can create 2D animations called Flipbooks (you need to specify a series of Sprites along certain key frames, those frames are then flipped through to create an animation)

In a simple 3D game you will mostly use the first seven editors: Level Editor, Material Editor, Texture Properties Editor, Blueprint Editor, UMG UI Editor, Static Mesh Editor and Sound Cue Editor. In the following lines we will study in more detail some of this important editors.

Materials

A Material is an asset that can be applied to a mesh to control the visual look, when the light from the scene hits the surface of the mesh, a Material is used to calculate how that light interacts with that surface.

Let's create your first material, go to the Content Browser > Click RMB > Select Material from the list > Name the material > double click LMB to open it. Now, in the material editor click RMB > Type in the search VectorParameter and select it > change the color in the Details panel that is located in the left side of the editor > connect the first white node to the Base color > Save in the Toolbar panel. Congratulations! You have created your first Unreal Engine 4 material. You can drag and drop the material on any mesh you choose from the viewport.

Textures

Textures are images that are used in Materials. To add textures, in the material editor click RMB > Type in the search TextureSample and select it > add your texture in the Details panel > connect the RGB node to the Base color > Save in the Toolbar panel.

Blueprints visual scripting

Blueprints are a scripting system based on the concept of using a node-based interface to create gameplay elements, the most common Blueprint types are Level Blueprints and Blueprint Classes. The Level Blueprints can reference and manipulate Actors within the levels, they also manage level-related systems. Each level has its own Level Blueprint. The Level Blueprint can also interact with Blueprint Classes.

Blueprint Classes are ideal for making interactive assets, for instance: collectible items, destructible scenery, and more... Blueprints have a self-contained nature, they can be constructed in such a way that you can drop them into a level and they will simply work, editing a Blueprint that is in use throughout a project will update every instance of it.

Ending

This was just a basic guide on Unreal Engine 4, if you want to study and learn more about this amazing game engine, here is the page to do that Unreal Engine 4 Tutorials & How To's (With Pictures & Video) - from this page you can browse all the Unreal Engine 4 articles published on edvog.com

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