Skeletal Mesh Actors

Use Skeletal Mesh Actors to create player avatars and populate your game world.

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The Skeletal Mesh Actor displays an animated mesh whose geometry can be deformed, typically through the use of control points during animation sequences. These can either be created and exported from external 3D animation applications, or programmed directly in Unreal Engine.

To learn more about how to import content into Unreal Engine, refer to the Importing Assets Directly page.

Like the name suggests, Skeletal Meshes have a skeleton that consists of a number of bones. These are used in the animation process.

Skeletal Mesh Actors are commonly used to represent player characters, NPCs, other animated creatures, and complex machinery. The Unreal Engine Mannequin that appears in the Third Person template is an example of a Skeletal Mesh Actor.

Placing a Skeletal Mesh Actor

The quickest way to place a Skeletal Mesh Actor is to drag it into the Level Viewport from the Content Browser. You can then use its Transform properties to place it where it needs to be.

Placing a Skeletal Mesh Actor from the Content Browser

To learn about other methods for placing Actors, refer to the Placing Actors page.

Animating a Skeletal Mesh Actor

There are two basic ways to animate a Skeletal Mesh Actor in Unreal Engine:

To learn more about animating Skeletal Meshes, refer to the Skeletal Mesh Animation System page.

Changing a Skeletal Mesh Actor's Material

You can override the material of a Skeletal Mesh Actor individually to change its appearance. This is useful if you want to use the same Static Mesh in the Level multiple times, but want to have some variation between them.

The example below shows three Skeletal Mesh Actors that use the Unreal Mannequin Skeletal Mesh. Each Actor uses a different Material.

Unreal Mannequins using different Materials

To replace the Material assigned to a Skeletal Mesh, locate the Material in the Content Browser, then drag it over the Skeletal Mesh Actor in the Level Viewport, as shown in the example below.

Changing a Skeletal Mesh Actor's Material

To use a Material with a Skeletal Mesh Actor, you need to enable the Used with Skeletal Mesh option. To do this:

  1. In the Content Browser, double click the Material to open it in the Material Editor.

  2. In the Details panel, enable the Used with Skeletal Mesh option.

Skeletal Mesh Actor Collision

Normal collision creation and detection does not work with Skeletal Mesh Actors. To have your Skeletal Meshes collide with objects in the Level, your Skeletal Mesh Actors need to have a Physics Asset that is specifically created for them.

To learn more about Physics Assets and their use, refer to the [making-interactive-experiences/Physics/physics-asset-editor) documentation.

To create and assign a Physics Asset to a Skeletal Mesh Actor, follow these steps:

  1. Find the Skeletal Mesh in the Content Browser and right-click it.

  2. In the context menu, select Create > Physics Asset > Create and Assign.

Creating and assigning a Physics Asset to a Skeletal Mesh

Creating and assigning a Physics Asset to a Skeletal Mesh.

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