Blender 4.1 - What's new?

Discover the new, animation related, features of Blender 4.1.

Blender development is fast paced and, once again, it’s time for the latest update.

Blender 4.1 was released yesterday and this article summarises the major changes, with a particular focus on those which impact animation.

Blender 4.1 Splash Screen - An Architectural interior image

Keying Workflow

For animators, Blender 4.1 introduces a significant change to the keyframing workflow which you’ll need to be aware of.

In previous versions of Blender the “I” key opened a menu which allowed you to select exactly what you were setting a keyframe on. You could choose to record the location, rotation, scale, or any combination of these.

Whilst this allowed you to be very specific, it did slow the process of animation, which often requires the setting of hundreds of keyframes.

The decision was therefore made to change the behaviour of this shortcut. From Blender 4.1 onwards, the default behaviour of the “I” key is to record a keyframe for an object or bone’s location, rotation, scale, and any custom properties.

When the cursor is positioned over entry fields within the interface, the original behaviour of the “I” key remains and a keyframe will only be set on the values which are under the cursor.

This new behaviour is comparable to other major 3D applications such as Maya and can be modified within the animation tab of the preferences if required.

In addition, if you require more specific control over what you’re setting a keyframe on, the original menu is still available using the shortcut “K”.

To see exactly how this works in practice you can check out this video from Blender which explains the change:

Additionally, I’ve added lessons explaining the new workflow, to all of my courses which were impacted by the change.

Auto Lock Key Axis

Under the View menu of the Graph Editor a new option has been added called “Auto-Lock Axis”.

When enabled, this will automatically lock key movement within the graph editor to either the X or Y axis.

Since you typically only want to adjust either the value of a keyframe or the frame on which it occurs, this new option can be extremely helpful.

View in Graph editor

Most animated properties now have an option on their right click menu to view and frame the associated F-Curve within the graph editor.

For this to work, the relevant object must be selected and a graph editor must also be open, but this can be a useful time saver.

Motion Paths

A 3D motion path within Blender 4.1

Motion paths have received an update with a new option to create motion paths relative to the active camera.

This creates a motion path which appears in screen space when looking through the active camera and is far more useful when you need to adjust animation relative to a moving camera.

Bake Channels

A new "Bake Channels" option has been added to the Channel menu of the Graph Editor. This is useful to convert the results of a channel modifier, such as cycle or noise, into editable keyframes.

After baking the channel, you can modify the frame range and frame step values.

Bone Collections

Bone Collections were added in Blender 4.0 and have already received an update for Blender 4.1.

Previously, bone collections were all shown in a flat list but this can now be hierarchical. This enables better organisation of the collections and makes it simpler to show or hide related groups of bones within a rig.

The bone collections can be rearranged and nested via drag-and-drop and the bone collection hierarchy is also shown within the outliner.

Additionally it is possible to ‘solo’ bone collections using the new star icon in the Bone Collections panel.

OpenImageDenoise GPU Acceleration

OpenImageDenoise is now GPU accelerated on supported hardware and is enabled automatically when using GPU rendering.

This makes a huge difference to the time that denoising takes, and makes high quality denoising available at interactive rates within the 3D viewport.

Supported GPUs:

  • NVIDIA GTX 16xx, TITAN V and all RTX GPUs
  • Intel GPUs with Xe-HPG architecture or newer
  • Apple Silicon with macOS version 13.0 and newer

Lock Camera to View Button

The Blender 4.1 interface showing the new Lock Camera to View button

A new gizmo button has been added to the 3D viewport to toggle “Lock Camera to View” when looking through a camera.

Previously, toggling this option could be time consuming and, whilst this addition only receives a footnote in the full release notes, it will be a huge time saver.

Other additions and changes

Whilst the above changes are my personal highlights, there have been numerous other additions and updates across Blender 4.1.

As always, there have been a number of additions to Geometry Nodes which continues to evolve into a powerful system.

The viewport compositor now supports all nodes with the exception of Render Layers passes (other than Image, Alpha, and Depth).

Finally, the Video Sequencer has received numerous performance improvements and other updates.

For full details of these changes, check out the official Blender 4.1 release notes.

Blender 4.1 is now available to download for free from the Blender website.


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