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UE5: 11 Principles to Learning and Using UE5 as a Complete Beginner

Category: UE5
April 14, 2023

You just installed UE5 and want to begin learning and creating environments.

Typing in "UE5 beginner tutorials" into Google will returns 300,000+ search results. Google video search will return 70,000+ results.

So, starting at the top you begin watching and learning. After few tutorials you start to get extremely overwhelmed, realizing there is a lot more to UE5.

At first glance, UE5 interface looks simple. But the more you learn, the more you discover a massively complex piece of software.

In this post I will outline how to begin learning UE5 so you have a good foundation to build on. This way you can begin using it rather than being overwhelmed by it.

Here are 11 core principles you need to know about for learning UE5 from scratch...

Video Tutorial

1. Decide What Do You Want From UE5

One thing you have to understand about UE5 - it is the complete game engine.

It is used across many different industries such as video games, film, television, architecture, broadcast, live events, training/simulation, automotive/transportation.

Because of this, you will NEVER master every aspect of Unreal Engine and all it has to offer. There is not enough time for that. So you need to narrow your focus.

Decide what you want from UE5:

  • Why you want learn UE5?
  • What do you want to create with it?

The easiest way to decide is to pick an industry you want to go into and create for:

  • video games
  • film
  • television
  • architecture
  • broadcast
  • live events
  • training/simulation
  • automotive/transportation

Narrow down to 1 on the list. This will help you focus on learning industry pipeline to what you need out of UE5.

2. UE5 is a Collection of Editors and Plugins

The simplest way to think of Unreal Engine is a collection of editors, modes and plug-ins.

UE5 has a lot of editors, modes and plug-ins out of the box. Many of these require a separate tutorial course to cover the complexity and depth of what it can do to help you create in UE5.

Here is a list of some common editors and modes that are enabled inside UE5:

  • Level Editor: gameplay level editor
  • Landscape Mode: landscapes
  • Mesh Paint Mode: vertex color painting
  • Foliage Mode: placing foliage
  • Static Mesh Editor: 3d model behavior and visuals
  • Modeling Mode: 3d model creation
  • Material Editor: materials
  • Texture Editor: textures
  • Blueprint Editor: visual scripting
  • Physics Asset Editor: physics
  • Behavior Tree Editor: AI behavior
  • Niagara Editor: particle
  • UMG UI Editor: user interface
  • Font Editor: fonts
  • Sequencer Editor: cinematics
  • Animation Editor: animation
  • Control Rig Editor: animation rigs
  • Sound Cue Editor: sound
  • Media Editor: external media playback
  • nDisplay 3D Config Editor: virtual production and live events
  • DMX Library Editor: live events

This list doesn't even include hundreds of Plug-ins available in UE5. Some of them are enabled at project start and many can be enabled by going to Edit > Plugins:

You can even download custom plug-ins created by others to extend the functionality of UE5.

No wonder once you start learning UE5 you open the Pandora's Box and you feel more confused and overwhelmed than before.

But the important thing is - you do not need to learn them all. Some of these you will use on daily basis but many others only when needed.

3. Most Common UE5 Terms You Need to Know About

You will hear a lot of terms being used as you work in UE5. Here are some of the common ones you'll encounter as you begin:

  • Project: contains and organizes the content of your game or environment within a specific folder directory.
  • Blueprint: visual scripting system that can be used to create gameplay for your game.
  • Static Mesh: a 3d model created inside an modeling package such as Maya, Blender, 3DSMax and imported into UE5. You can also use Modeling Mode in UE5 to create Static Meshes.
  • Asset: referrers to things like textures, materials, blueprints, Static Meshes. Usually anything found inside the Content Browser is considered an asset.
  • Actor: refers to any object within a level. This can include lights, Static Meshes, Blueprints, Player Start etc.
  • Level/Map: level is made up of collection Static Meshes, lights, blueprints, particles and more where the player will play or the viewer will see. Both terms, level or map is used interchangeably.

4. Everything in UE5 is Contained Within a Project

Everything in UE5 is contained within a project. Before you can launch the editor and work on creating your game or environments you have to create a project.

A project will contain and organize the content of your game or environment within a specific folder directory.

Once you have a project created you can re-open this project to continue working on your game or environment.

To create a project is very simple.

Launch UE5 version installed on your computer:

Go through the menus to select various Project Templates or start with a Blank Project:

5. Start with UE5 Project Game Templates

Creating your first Unreal Engine 5 project, make sure to use these 3 things:

First, use one of the available game templates such as First Person Shooter, Third Person Shooter, Top Down or Side Scroller. These will give you the basic gameplay mechanics to use with your project and begin prototyping. You could also reverse engineer the mechanics for learning and build on the existing functionality by adding your own changes.

Second, select to use Blueprint. Blueprint is a visual scripting language inside UE5 and does not require you to have any C++ programming knowledge. Blueprints are extremely powerful and you can use them to create an entire game.

Third, include Starter Content. This will give you few assets to use within your project such as Static Meshes, textures, materials, audio and particle effects.

See this tutorial for a step-by-step to creating a project inside UE5.

6. What Does a Standard Level Contain in UE5

 A standard level should contain the following actors. Most of these but not all are included in Basic Template map when you go to File > New Level.

  • Directional Light
  • Sky Light
  • Sky Atmosphere
  • Exponential Height Fog
  • Static Meshes
  • Materials
  • Post Process Volume
  • Player Start

These will give you enough to start creating your environments in but there are many other actors you will need such as point lights, spot lights, landscapes, particle effects, audio, blueprints, water, animations etc.

7. Don't Make This As Your First Project

It is very tempting to want to create a game or a custom environment as your first project.


There are too many moving parts and requires many skills. You have to manage programming, modeling, lighting, texturing, material creation, animation, effects etc. You will become overwhelmed and frustrated before you even gotten a chance to learn the editor.

8. What Should Your First Project Be with UE5

You want to start with simple, small environment project using only Starter Content.

Most importantly something you can start and finish while learning UE5.

The goal is to learn UE5 editor and the tools.

So first recommended project for all beginners is to create a small environment such a single room, hallway or exterior area with only Starter Content.

Use the included assets such as Static Meshes, textures, materials, audio, particle effects and Blueprints to construct an environment and light it.

Two ways you can add Starter Content to a project.

First is during Project Creation screen:

Second is adding it into an existing project. Go to Add and Add Feature or Content Pack:

Use Starter Content assets to create a simple environment while focusing on learning the fundamentals of UE5.

9. Learn UE5 Modeling Mode

UE5 now comes with a Modeling Mode. You can create custom Static Meshes (3d models) right inside the editor.

Modeling Mode is for:

  • Creating new Static Mesh assets
  • Editing existing Static Mesh assets

This Modeling Mode will not be replacing 3d modeling software such as Maya, Blender, 3dsMax and others but it is a great tool to know how to use in UE5.

Modeling Mode will be already enabled for you if you created UE5 project.

On the off chance that Modeling Mode isn't enabled by default, go to Edit > Plugins and search for Modeling. Enable Modeling Tools Editor Mode. This will require editor restart:

To open Modeling Mode use the drop down menu to change to Modeling Mode (Shift + 5):

There are a lot of tools here and it's not something you can learn by messing around.

In Module 2 of the "UE5 Fundamentals Vol.1" we spend 3+ hours going over how to use the Modeling Mode.

10. Importance of Building Environments to Scale

Number one mistake beginner's make is creating environments that are either too small or too big.

Wrong scale and proportions are off.

So here are some important dimension measurements you need to know about when creating in UE5.

Everything in Unreal Engine uses centimeters (cm) as the measurement system. UE5 calls this Unreal Units.

  • Unreal Units (uu) = Centimeters (cm)
  • 1 unreal unit = 1 cm
  • Character Height: 180uu (about 6ft)

Third-Person Game Template has UE4 and UE5 mannequins that can be added into a level and used as to judge proportions.

Go to Characters folder and either into Mannequin_UE4 or Mannequins subfolder:

For Mannequin_UE4 go into Meshes folder and use SK_Mennquin:

For Mannequins go into Meshes folder and use SKM_Manny, SKM_Manny_Simple, SKM_Quinn or SKM_Quinn_Simple:

Always insert this scale mannequin into your levels to help you judge proportions as you create.

See this tutorial for more detailed breakdown on UE5 scale, dimensions and keep environments to correct proportion.

11. Beginner Roadmap to Learn UE5

Your first goal as a beginner is to learn how to use UE5 editor and its tools.

You want to stay entirely inside UE5 game engine. Avoid introducing any external software such as Blender, Maya, Houdini or Substance Painter/Designer. Focus on learning UE5.

Here is the best way to learn UE5 as a complete beginner:

  • First: focus on the essentials of the engine, such as editor's interface, viewport navigation, using different viewport modes, project management, using the Content Browser, working with objects in the editor and creating very simple levels using Starter Content.
  • Second: you need to learn how environments are constructed in UE5 and how to use existing assets in UE5 to create your own environments. This includes using Static Meshes (3d models) and how to work with Materials/Textures.
  • Third: learn the Modeling Mode to create your own custom Static Meshes (3d models) to use, right inside the editor.
  • Fourth: learn essentials of lighting and how to light exteriors and interiors with UE5.
  • Fifth: learn how to use atmospheric effects such as fog, sky atmosphere, using particles, adding audio and how to use Post Process Volume to control visuals of your environment.

Once you are able to create your own environment following these steps, you will be in a strong position to take UE5 in any direction you want.

I will teach you Unreal Engine 5 as a complete beginner with zero knowledge of the engine and without any prior experience. I will guide you through these 5 steps of learning UE5 in this "UE5 Fundamentals Vol.1" tutorial course.

Download the UE5 Fundamentals Vol.1 Tutorial Course...


Subscribe to receive NEW/UPDATED and FREE "UE5 Beginner's Quick Start Guide" PDF (90 pages).

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Visit this page for more info about the guide...

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About World of Level Design

My name is AlexG. I am self-taught level designer, game environment artist and the creator of World of Level Design.com. I've learned everything I know from personal experimentation and decades of being around various online communities of fellow environment artist and level designers. On World of Level Design you will find tutorials to make you become the best level designer and game environment artist.

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