Creating animated mind maps in Blender 2.7

In this video we create a motion graphics style animated mind map inside Blender 2.7.

You can download the finished blender file here:

Mind Map 001

Written instructions:

In this video we’ll create a mind map in Blender. The initial setup takes a bit of work but once it’s done we can easily re-use it. If you don’t want to do the setup yourself, you can just download our ready made Blender file from the link in the description.

Let’s begin by creating a second 3d-view so that we can view our scene from both the front view and the top view. It’s best to change these views into orthographic ones by pressing numpad 5.

Now we can add a new text object. Hit tab to change the text to something different. We will change the origin point of the text to the center of it’s geometry so it scales in a nicer way.

Now let’s make a duplicate by hitting shift-d. We’ll change the text to something different and scale it down. Let’s make one more duplicate.

It’s a good idea to give different level objects descriptive names so we can select them efficiently later.

Now it’s time to create the relationship lines. Add a plane in the middle of the main text and the child text and bring it to edit mode. Delete the two vertices so that you are left with only two. Then place the vertices in the middle of the texts. It’s best to also move them down slightly on the z axis.

Let’s go back to object mode, duplicate the line and move it between the child and the grandchild elements.

Now it’s time to create the hooks. Select the object you want to hook into, and shift select the line between that object. Tab into edit mode, and select the vertex closest to the text. Then hit control h and choose, “Hook to selected object”, from the menu. Go back into object mode, select the second text and shift select the line, and return to edit mode. Select the vertex close to the text, and press control h to create another hook. Repeat these steps once more for the third text.

If you now move the texts in the object mode, you can see that the relationship-lines follow along.

Let’s make these lines a bit thicker by adding skin modifiers. We can scale them down a bit until we get the right thickness. It’s a good idea to name the lines as well.

We should also create a basic parent hierarchy between the texts, so that it’s easier to animate them later.

If you don’t want to see the relationship lines behind the texts, you can add planes with a holdout material. Let’s add a plane and position it just below our text. We’ll switch to cycles so that we can give the plane a material with the surface set to holdout. Let’s rename the plane to holdout and duplicate it for all our texts. We should also parent the holdout planes so that they automatically follow the texts.

Let’s put the camera on top of the scene and make a test render. The holdout material is rendered black because we haven’t enabled film transparency. After we enable it, we can see how the holdout planes make the relationship lines under the texts invisible.

Now we can simply start duplicating our structure. We can easily duplicate both child elements and grandchild elements as needed.

Next we can colorize our texts. Just select one text and give it a material with a nice color. Next we can use the fact, that we named all our texts with the keyword “text” to our advantage by typing it into the pattern selection option. When we hit enter Blender will select all layers containing the word “text”. Now we can give each selected object this material by choosing object, make links, and material.

Let’s give the relationship-lines an emission surface to avoid any shadows they might receive from the texts above them.

Our mind map is pretty much complete. If we want, we can now animate it slightly.

Let’s make a selection of all the texts in our scene. After that we can go to frame one hundred and fifty in order to insert location and scale keyframes for the texts. The child-texts should stop animating at frame 100, so let’s give them another keyframe there. Now we can head to the beginning of the timeline and move the child texts to the center. The easiest way to move them all together might be to turn on the “manipulate center points” -button and then scale the texts while using the 3d cursor as the pivot point. We don’t want to move the texts on the z axis right now, so let’s exclude it from the operation by hitting shift z.

Remember to insert the second keyframe after you have moved the texts in place.

Now that our first animation is working, let’s animate the grandchildren. Select the grandchildren of one child text and put the 3d cursor in the center of the child by left clicking. Then scale the grandchildren down to the center and insert a keyframe. Repeat this for all the grandchild elements.

You can also separate the different level texts on the z axis so that they have a three dimensional feel. Finally, we can animate the camera a little bit to give a small sense of depth to the scene.

Here is our final animation.

Thanks for watching and see you next time on FasterTutorials.com!

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