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Bone Layers – Blender 2.80 Fundamentals

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This tutorial is part of the Blender Fundamentals series, produced by Dillon Gu.

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Bone Layers in Blender #

Bone layers in Blender are an organizational tool for armatures, allowing you to group and manage bones in a more efficient and user-friendly manner. By using bone layers, you can simplify your rig by hiding, locking, or selecting groups of bones based on their functions or roles in the rig. This guide will provide an overview of bone layers in Blender and their benefits in rigging and animation workflows.

Accessing Bone Layers #

To access bone layers in Blender, follow these steps:

  1. Select an armature in the 3D Viewport.
  2. In the Properties panel, navigate to the Object Data Properties tab (identified by a stick figure icon).
  3. Locate the Bone Layers section, which displays a grid of 32 available bone layers.

Assigning Bones to Bone Layers #

To assign bones to a bone layer, follow these steps:

  1. Switch to Edit Mode or Pose Mode in the 3D Viewport’s top left corner.
  2. Select the bones you want to assign to a bone layer.
  3. In the Bone Layers section of the Object Data Properties tab, click on the checkbox for the desired layer to assign the selected bones to that layer. Bones can be assigned to multiple layers simultaneously.

Managing Bone Layers #

Bone layers can be managed and utilized in several ways to streamline your rigging and animation workflows:

  • Visibility: Click on the dots in the Bone Layers section to toggle the visibility of individual layers in the 3D Viewport. This helps to declutter the viewport and focus on specific parts of the rig.
  • Selection: Press “Shift” and click on a dot in the Bone Layers section to select all the bones within that layer. This allows for quick and easy manipulation of related bones.
  • Locking: Click on the padlock icon below the bone layers grid to lock all bones within the selected layers. This prevents accidental manipulation or keyframing of locked bones during animation.

Tips for Using Bone Layers #

When using bone layers in Blender, consider these tips for optimal organization and efficiency:

  1. Naming: Use meaningful and descriptive names for bone layers to easily identify their purpose or the parts of the rig they contain.
  2. Consistency: Maintain a consistent layer organization system across your rigs, allowing for easier collaboration and familiarity when working on different characters or projects.
  3. Grouping: Group related bones or controls within the same layer, such as IK/FK controls, facial controls, or accessory controls.

Bone layers in Blender provide a powerful way to manage and organize complex armatures, simplifying the rigging and animation process. By understanding and effectively using bone layers, you can create more efficient and user-friendly rigs, streamlining your animation workflow and improving the overall quality of your Blender projects.

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