Actors vs Blueprint Actors in Unreal Engine (+ How to Create Them)

What is an Actor in Unreal Engine?

An Actor in Unreal Engine is simply any object that can be added or spawned in a level.

You can see the full list of actors placed in the current level in the “Outliner” panel. This is a searchable and filterable list of all actors in the World.

I closed the world outliner, how do I reopen it?

Tip: If you don’t see the Outliner panel, just select “Window” in the top navigation bar, and select the “Outliner” tab.

Unreal Engine Actors

However actors don’t always have to be physical, visible objects within our Level like a cube.

For instance, if you set a PlayerStart Actor, it is still regarded as an Actor even though it is not a physical object in the Level.

An Actor in Unreal Engine is essentially any object that can be moved, resized, and rotated within a level.

If you use C++, AActor is the base class of all Actors.

How can I create actors in Unreal Engine?

To create an actor in Unreal Engine 5, simply click on the cube icon with the + symbol.

This will open a dropdown menu that will allow you to place actors inside your level.

Here you’ll find various choices, some of which might be familiar depending on your experience level. But don’t worry, we’ll cover all of these options in this Unreal Engine Learning Roadmap.

For now, you can start by experimenting with placing basic actors, lights and shapes in your level to see what happens.

How to place actors in Unreal Engine 5

List of all placeable actors in Unreal Engine 5

  • Basic: Actor, Character, Pawn, Point Light, Player Start, Trigger Box, Trigger Sphere.
  • Lights: Directional Light, Point Light, Spot Light, Rect Light, Sky Light.
  • Shapes: Cube, Sphere, Cylinder, Cone and Plane.
  • Cinematic: Camera Shake Source Actor, Cine Camera Actor, Camera Rig Crane, Camera Rig Rail, Level Sequence Actor.
  • Media Plate
  • Visual Effects: Post Process Volume, Sky Atmosphere, Volumetric Cloud, Exponential Height Fog, Sphere Reflection Capture, Box Reflection Capture, Planar Reflection, Decal Actor.
  • Geometry: Box, Cone, Cylinder, Curved Stair, Spiral Stair, Sphere.
  • Volumes: Audio Volume, Blocking Volume, Camera Blocking Volume, Cull Distance Volume, Hierarchical LODVolume, Kill ZVolume, Level Streaming Volume, Lightmass Character Indirect Detail Volume, Lightmass Importance Volume, Location Volume, Mesh Merge Culling Volume, Nav Mesh Bounds Volume, Nav Modifier Volume, Pain Causing Volume, Physics Volume, Post Process Volume, Precomputed Visibility Override Volume, Precomputed Visibility Volume, Runtime Virtual Texture Volume, Trigger Volume, Visual Logger Filter Volume, Volumetric Lightmap Density Volume, World Partition Mini Map Volume.
  • All Classes: All placeable Actors.

Where is the Place Actors Panel?

Tip: If you’re new to Unreal Engine 5, it’s also good to know that you can access the Place Actors Panel from this same menu. Choosing this option will give you access to the panel, just like you could in the Unreal Engine 4.

A different method to get this panel is to navigate to Window -> Place Actors from the main menu. The Place Actors panel will appear on the left-hand side of the Unreal Editor window.

How can I duplicate actors?

You have several possibilities for duplicating actors in Unreal Engine:

  • Copy & Paste: Select an object in the Viewport or in the Outliner and press CTRL+C and then CTRL+V.
  • Duplicate: Exactly the same as copy paste, but with CTRL+D.
  • Drag & Duplicate: While holding down the left ALT button on your keyboard, use the left mouse button to select and drag one of the three arrows on the actor’s gizmo. This will duplicate the object while it is moved to its new location.
Unreal Engine Pivot

What is a Blueprint Actor?

The main difference between an Actor and a Blueprint Actor is that we can script specific tasks for the Blueprint Actor using the Blueprint Visual Scripting system.

For example, by using Blueprint Actors, you’ll be able to modify the material of a Static Mesh during the game, or create interactions between different Blueprint Actors.

Another significant difference is the ability to combine multiple actors as components inside the blueprint.
Keep reading to find out how.

How do you make an Actor Blueprint in Unreal Engine?

To create a Blueprint Actor, just press the “+ Add” button, or just right-click anywhere in the Content Browser.

Then select in the dropdown menu “Blueprint Class“.

In the new pop-up window select “Actor” as the Parent Class.

How do I add components to Blueprints?

Simply click “+Add” in the Components Panel and select the component you want to add to this actor Blueprint.

For example, select “Static Mesh” to use one or more 3D assets inside the Actor Blueprint.

Open the “Static Mesh” dropdown list in the Details panel on the right side of the screen and select the asset you want to use.

Clicking the “Event Graph” tab, next to the “Viewport” tab, will allow you to begin using Blueprint Visual Scripting.

I closed the Event Graph, how do I reopen it?

Tip: To open the Event Graph again, just go to Window -> My Blueprint. Now double-click “EventGraph” in the Graphs panel.

Two Static Meshes (SM_Cylinder) with a blue Material (MI_Solid_Blue) inside a Blueprint Actor.

Unreal Engine Learning Exercise:

If you’re new to Unreal Engine and want to learn more about blueprint actors, try to complete this tutorial for making a Sliding door.

Learn More:

I recommend watching this video, especially if you are already familiar with Unity.

Don’t worry if it’s too advanced for you right now. Simply return later.

Official Documentation

Unreal Engine Roadmap