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Dope Sheet: Keyframe Type Colors and Shape Improvements
Confirmed, NormalPublicDESIGN


After the spring production the animation team at the blender institute had a meeting, to come up with the issues we had during the production and sharing them with the developers.

One of the issues we had, was that the "Set Keyframe Type", which changes the color of the keyframes, was really hard to see due to non saturated colors + size changes. When keyframes are dense, the keyframe type becomes almost impossible to see. We agreed that this feature was really useful for organizing the keyframes of a shot, but it needed improvements.

Current behaviour:

  • The size of the keyframe changes, 3 of the 5 options make the icons smaller, making them harder to find
  • The colors are not bright enough.
  • Colors of Selected/Unselected are too similar.

  • Keyframe colors become almost impossible to see when there are more keyframes nearby.

So we came up with a proposal with three main points in mind:

  • The user is the one deciding the color/shape
  • Clear colors
  • Clear Shapes (so they are easy to see even for color blind people, as some of them might not be able to differentiate the colors)

Animation team proposal:

This visualizing way could also propagate to the graph editor, which connects with D5621 :

But this proposal fundamentally conflicts with the new way of visualizing the handle type in the dopesheet, as that one changes the keyframe shape as well.

Current handle type icons

For the animators at the studio showing the handle type in the dope sheet is not really useful, so we keep the option off, but we understand that there are other users that will find these really useful.

I think it's important to understand how we use the dopesheet:

  • Since generally every bone has 9 different channels, and we are dealing with a lot of bones in a rig, we keep the channels collapsed in the dope sheet, using the summary or the top channel to make changes, if we want more precise control we'll jump into the Graph Editor.

The main issues we have with the handle type visualization and the interpolation type visualization are:

Spring shot file example

  • When you have a lot of keyframes together the shape difference is so small it becomes really hard to see, becoming more confusing than helpful.

Open - Collapsed example:

When the channels are collapsed, the information shown is not reliable. In the example used above, each one of the channels have different handle types and different interpolations. When collapsed there is no single type to be shown, creating misinformation.


Keyframe colors are important. We propose an improvement by:

  • Clarifying keyframe-type colors and shapes in the dopesheet
  • Suggesting this would be useful in the graph editor too (D5621)
  • Offer a switch between handle-type shape and keyframe-type shape (instead of the on/off switch for handle-type shape).

*I’m not not a designer, so this is not final or beautiful design just a proposal to visualize my points.

Event Timeline

Brecht Van Lommel (brecht) lowered the priority of this task from 90 to Normal.Oct 2 2019, 10:56 PM

Regarding this issue, I think blender in its entire user interface, has a consistency issue in regards to SELECTED and ACTIVE.
In some places, are arbitrary colors, in some are orange and bright orange, in some other areas are white and orange.
I propose we clean it up and make it always in every single place orange for selected, white for selected/active. ( i would love to be able to get rid of unselected/active, because its very confusing but that's an other topic)

For instance:
in the coloring for rigs we have to chose 3 colors, which makes it more tedious, and inconsistent:
example with color coding:

example as it iis now: can you easily tell what is selected, what is unselected, and what is active?

this color coding is already being used in modeling edit mode:

I would apply it on the graph editor allowing to have an active keyframe (would serve to create tools that work around that last selected keyframe)

and in the dope sheet half works, i feel the keyframes selected should just become orange and thats it, even if they blue before.

in the node editor its already there:

In the UV editor is slightly different but should be fixed too.

anyways, I leave it here for you guys to decide and think about it, but i believe this unification would make some things simpler and decisions easier to take.
lovya all