Quick Rigging With the Rigify Addon

See How to Rig your Characters with Rigify

Rigify is an automated rigging tool written by Nathan Vegdahl that makes the character-rigging process fast and simple.

If you’re like me, you spend most of your time in Blender modeling and texturing characters for still renders.  However, sometimes I want to see my static character spring to life in animated motion.  So the anticipation and excitement builds enough for me to venture into the rigging realm, motivated by lofty dreams of character animation! Though hours later I end up raising a white flag in a confused and frustrated surrender to the often overwhelming task that is rigging.

For Blender users out there who experience similar rigging inabilites Rigify is the answer to your character animation needs.


What You Will Learn

1.  Enabling the addon.

2. Customizing the meta-rig to achieve the best performance from the generated rig.

3. Generating the rig.

4. Automatic skinning your character model to the rig.

5. What Rigify doesn’t do for you.


Music:  “The Universe and My So-Called Life” by Pitx

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149 Responses to “Quick Rigging With the Rigify Addon”
  1. Posts: 2
    Nate says:

    Is it possible to delete a bone from the structure without messing with the rigging/skinning? e.g. A three fingered character

    • Posts: 945

      Amazingly yes, you can delete fingers and the rig will generate fine! I’m not sure to what extent you can delete bones and still maintain successful generation, but fingers are ok.

  2. Posts: 4
    legarc says:

    what’s the best method or option to retarget a BVH/mocap animation to the rigify rig or is it even possible?

  3. Posts: 6
    Eddie D'Sa says:

    Dear Kent,
    I have learnt a great deal from your tutorials – the confident manner and expertise does help.
    I bumped into your tutorial on Nathan V’s Rigify just yesterday – it’s just the type of rig I’ve been dreaming of.
    With previous rigs I tried, there was always some problem or other and I was never sure I was doing things right.
    But Rigify is the real thing and your lucid tutorial promptly led me to try it out on an old human model that I have been struggling to rig properly for a year.
    I downloaded vers 2.69 yesterday and tried out Rigify promptly. It worked well. It generated all the Shapes perfectly and I then tried skinning. Here I felt less sure. You had selected all the Shapes in Pose mode and hid them away. For some reason, I couldn’t do this. My Pose selections kept reverting to Object mode. ( I have seen the Rig layers and their counterpart in the N-panel).
    So I moved the Shapes to Layer20, their home layer and stuck to Object mode (not wireframe).

    I clicked Rig Layer14 (in the second set of 16 cells each) and the deformable green bones appeared on the model (in Object mode). I then selected the body and Shift selected a green bone (peeping out in the shin area). Then did the usual Ctrl+P and auto-weights option. So seemingly the skinning was done because I could the armature modifier in the Modifier panel (spanner icon).
    I then restored the Shapes from Layer20 to Layer1 with the model.

    But Pose mode is proving to be problematic. The Rig layers have all been enabled [barring the last three with the green bones]. At one point I did get the Root in Pose mode and could move the IK Foot neatly. Likewise I did move the torso but I can’t budge the other Shapes at all.
    To get to Pose mode, I have click the Rig in Outliner to get to Pose mode in the 3D window. But the moment I click a boen, it reverts to Object. So what’s preventing the Pose mode from working and the bones responding?
    This unexpected setback is most frustrating and I’d be most grateful for your answers.
    [I read in Blender Artists that vers 2.69 could create problems with Rigify and advised that the Auto-run Scrtipts Python button must be ticked but mine was already enabled.
    Kindly help.

    • Posts: 6
      Eddie D'Sa says:

      Hello, Blender Cookie
      I left a query yesterday on Trammel’s Rigify tutorial and am wondering whether it will be answered or does it require me to become a Citizen? I was one in the past but no longer.


      • Posts: 945

        Hi Eddie,

        Sorry for the late response – lots of comments to sift through ;) I’m having a hard time following the issue textually. It’d be best if you could submit a support ticket to the help desk so you can record a screencast of the problem. I’ll keep an eye open for you ticket. Thanks!

  4. Posts: 2
    saty012 says:

    how to recover mesh which is destroyed under pose mode

    I have rigged my character with rigify addon, and I saved it after making some poses and closed blender. After when I reopened I found some parts of my character mesh have been gone. I tried to reset the pose by Alt+s, Alt+r, Alt+g but nothing happens. Please help.

    Satyam N.

    • Posts: 3622

      Hi Satyam, can you share a screenshot of the problem?

      When resetting the pose, be sure you’re doing it from Pose Mode on the armature, or else it’ll try and reset the whole object location, meaning the armature.

      • Posts: 2
        saty012 says:

        Hi Jonathan,

        The problem is now solved. It was unknown to me that rigify uses scripts to load up everytime blender starts. ‘RUN SCRIPTS AUTOMATICALLY’ option in the user preferences was not checked thats why it happened. Sorry for the trouble.

        And thanks for everything you have given us. :)

      • Posts: 7
        beezilbub says:

        This happened to me as well. After I checked “Auto Run Python Scripts” in the file preferences tab it functioned perfectly.

  5. Posts: 23
    cornacious says:

    some of my bones don’t show up (the green ones) any reason as to why that may be so?

    • Posts: 3622

      Most likely they’re on a different bone layer. You can find the bone layers from the Armature properties panel.

    • Posts: 2
      Taiga Smith says:

      try going to the user preference panel and click auto run python scripts in the (file) section

  6. Posts: 2
    Taiga Smith says:

    Hey everyone, I’ve been able to rig characters before using this tutorial, but now when I try to generate the rig, I get this message: can’t add new bone ‘root’ outside of edit mode, incorrect armature for type ‘ utils’. Any help would be great.

  7. Posts: 4

    Hi guys,

    New to Rigify, tried the above and various other tutorials, and it appeared something was just wrong all the time.

    So I stripped down, and stripped down, went backwards, and now I think I have got it down to not being me, but a bug. It must be that the Mac version is not working?

    Here is a video showing what is obviously not normal usage, but at the end of that video, should there not be a full armature?


    Thanks a bunch.

    OSX 10.9, Blender 2.69, Rigify 0.4

    • Posts: 945

      Hi Frits,

      I watched your video and don’t see anything wrong with the generated rig. In object mode, the armature only appears as the bones that are visible in your bone layers which are set in edit & pose modes.

      • Posts: 4

        Thanks. Well, then let me put it in another way:

        When I want to skin the Armature: When pressing Ctrl+P, and select With automatic weights (after selecting the Mesh first, and then the Generated Rig) – most of my mesh disappears!

        Only mesh close the the bones shown in the video (head and some chest) remains – everything else just vanishes. Do you still not see a problem?

        It happens just the same, with any- and everything I try. I have followed numerous tutorials, and the result is always the same.

        Can I try to ask you to duplicate the simple steps I do in the video? I bet you get a different result, and I think it must be a Mac conversion issue, since everywhere I see tutorials that works, they use PC. I cannot think of any other reason.

      • Posts: 1
        i swear says:

        Thank you Frits!!! Turning on “Auto run python scripts” fixed a similar problem I was having as well.

  8. Posts: 1
    Nurul Fitria says:

    hey guys. i’ve been trying to make my character do many pose. the problem with mine is the bone (green ones) aren’t showing up. i’ve tried clicking up the other layers, and clicking on that auto run python just like i read from the previous comment, but it’s still not working.

    • Posts: 4

      Are none of them green bones showing up – or do you se some from the head and spine? Because that is what I see – only. The ones shown in the video in my comment above.

  9. Posts: 2
    cg_on says:

    Hi all, I am also having trouble after I select and hide the bones…when you select the green bones in wire frame mode I only have the upper torso bones like the head and spine but no lower legs, feet or hands or anything else only 3 bones…quite tired not sure why the steps lead me to be completely wrong at this point…giving up now its so late to get no result after an hour, hope there’s a good resolve to this, I don’t want to be one of those people you mention that give up…this is my like up teenth time i’ve returned to this subject and it still eludes this rigging and deformations let alone the steep curve to actually getting to animate, which I’m really here for, but you cant butter without the bread lolz…terrible i know, but i feel i need to learn this first

    • Posts: 2
      Nate says:

      isn’t this the “run scripts automatically” problem?
      try looking at blender’s user preferences and checking this option on, then redo the process after putting the bones in place. I believe you have to have this checked before clicking the “rigify” button.
      I don’t exactly where this option is, as I don’t have acess to a computer right now, but it isn’t hard to find.

  10. Posts: 10
    Tom Pace says:

    It’s awesome to see the tip about using Z and the roll value on the metarig’s fingers to fix problems before generating the final rig.

    But I’m confused by the use of Z, compared to the X axis which I was taught is used for pole target axis. Is there a setting in Blender to change rigify or else the standard local axis of a joint/bone whereon to align for a pole target?

    I’d like to move to rigify but I’m confused at this point.

    • Posts: 945

      I think I was also taught that X should be the pole axis for joints/bones…it’s that way in Maya right?

      In Blender it’s Y actually is it? I don’t think there’s a way to change that. It’s just a program-dependent choice made by the developers long ago. Similar to Z up instead of Y up in the world.

      • Posts: 10
        Tom Pace says:

        Thanks for that response Kent. After following your video and revisiting a few sections of it several times, along with some other tutorials, I finally got what I feel is a perfect (mathematical) grasp on the setup and use of pole target and rotation. It’s really empowering, but I really needed it as a basis for understanding the axis rotation angles… that happen to be Z as you taught in this Rigify tutorial. Thanks :)

  11. Posts: 2

    Thank you for the excellent tutorial. And thanks to Nathan as well for sharing this, this looks like it will be very helpful to the community. I’m hoping to try and put this to use in the next few days myself.

  12. Posts: 6
    venged says:

    Hello Thanks for this lesson. It has been so helpful. I had the same problem with the green bones not all showing up and the mesh distorting and mostly disappearing. Thanks for the help that was posted. Setting Auto run Python scripts has fixed that as described.

    Now here is my question. After the rig is generated. Can I make minor adjustments to the green bones to get them in place better if I see an adjustment is needed? Or do I have to start over with the Meta Rig?


    AKA Venged

    • Posts: 945

      Thanks for watching, Robert!

      I recommend you make all positional adjustments before you generate the rig. Less potential for problems that way.

      • Posts: 6
        venged says:

        Thanks! I went back and adjusted before hitting generate this time. The Rigify rigg was slight out of place still in ones axis even though the metarig was lined up near perfect, I hit a and moved it into place and the auto-rigged to the Rigify green bones, It works so nice! :-) Thanks again!!

      • Posts: 945

        Perhaps you’re already doing this, but I always save my file after positioning the meta rig and before generating. That way if I need to finely tune the meta rig I can simply reload the scene, make my adjustments, and re-generate.

  13. Posts: 8
    goodfoot says:

    How did you get the joints to show up blue all the time?

  14. Posts: 5
    gikkio says:

    Great Tut can and great script!

    So you say that if i have a Character ready for rigging with only 3 or 4 fingers, i can delete the bone with no problem for the IK and parents of bones?
    is great!

    • Posts: 945

      Indeed, removing fingers from the meta rig is A-Ok. The true rig will still generate fine

  15. Posts: 8
    jackstreicher says:

    Great Tutorial!

    I guess I have to combine all my meshs (consisting of Armor parts, Head and boots and several more layers) to make rigify work? Otherwise it will rip my model apart after hitting “auto weight”. And after combining all my meshes, is there a way to preserve my vertex groups (for I already modelled the hair and all, after combining all hair disappear)

    Marius a.k.a. Jack

    • Posts: 945

      You don’t have to combine all the different parts of your mesh. Skinning certainly gets a little more complicated with multiple pieces. But even if you combine, you’ll still get problems with auto weighting…You have several options for accomplishing this, but I suppose the most straight forward answer is to skin each object one at a time. I recently had to do this very same thing and I couldn’t figure out a simple computery-one-click solution. Sorry, I know that doesn’t sound fun :/

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