Rigging: Bone Heat Weighting

I have always hated rigging models. Rigging effectively can be tricky, especially if you are going for nice smooth deformations that behave in a realistic manner. Which probably explains why I am just now trying to learn about character animation.

In fact up until recently, my rigging experience has been limited to extremely simple rigs for the sole purpose of posing a model for a still image. Even with simple rigs of twenty bones or less, attaching the rig to the object was always an exercise in frustration and stubborn persistence. I remember when I started using blender, you set vertex groups manually for each bone and setting weight influences was a real pain. Weight painting soon offered a way to ease the pain, but it was still not a lot of fun. Being able to create vertex groups from the closet bone was a huge improvement. But for me at least, it was still a long tedious process to get all the bones weight painted smoothly and make sure that no stray vertices were being influenced by a totally unrelated bone on the other end of the rig.

So you can imagine how happy I am about “Bone Heat Weighting“. Skinning a rig has finally become relatively painless. Yay!

For those who haven’t yet tried it, here is a quick breakdown:

  • create a rig for your model/character
  • select the model, then shift select the rig
  • press โ€œcontrol + Pโ€, to parent the rig to the model
  • choose “Armature” from the pop up
  • choose “Create from Bone Heat” from the next pop up
  • play with your new rigged model

It is really that easy. To test it out, I grabbed a character model that was hanging out on my hard drive, created a very simple twenty-five bone armature/rig and parented it to my model using the very same steps listed above. In less than five minutes I was posing my character and checking out his cool new moves. It was the easiest skinning of a character I have ever done. Which makes Bone Heating one of my new all time favorite features. A huge time saving bonus was that there were no odd vertices being incorrectly influenced by far away bones, something that always seemed to happen when I rigged something previously.

While I’m sure that some tweaking of weight painting might be necessary for some rigs, my simple little rigs all perform beautifully. Yeah, okay I still need to learn how to create rigs that animate properly, but now I can quickly create simple posing rigs without pulling my hair out. I just love our coders, they are always finding ways to make artistic creation fun and painless. I think feel a big hug headed their way.


2 responses to “Rigging: Bone Heat Weighting

  • bencevoltam

    This is an useful post. ๐Ÿ˜€ I was always wondering what’s that. Next time i will try every new feature immediately, perhaps my hair will also grow again.

  • yavor

    Thanks alot dreamsgate.
    I have been banging my head 2 days into rigging and envelope bones wouldnt work, vertex groups would work but not as i needed and would disconnect another bone :S
    Then I came into this so easy to follow tutorial and Bone Heat seems to be my fauvorite now too ๐Ÿ™‚ the weight paint feature is very hard at first glance but thats an illusion, it soon becomes very intuitive to use.
    Thanks again, i can finaly rigg my character properly ๐Ÿ™‚

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