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Let's say I'm really new to Blender, and have just barely figured out what keyframes are for. Explain a Blender skeleton to me like I'm five. Do I need to use it, and how exactly does it connect to the rest of the model?

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OOOkay.This is

Armature in a Nutshell

Armatures and bones are for posing stuff, just like you would wiggle your arms and nod your head. All of your bones move whenever you move. Same thing for blender bones, they help stuff move and get into different poses, like statues. (okay I'm gonna stop the five-year-old thing now)

All you have to do is make an armature that looks kinda like the shape of a skeleton. See the stuff highlighted in orange? That's his skeleton. each one of those tetrahedron shapes is a bone.

Armatue

you can make an armature like this by going into Edit Mode and extruding the bones by pressing E. When you do this you want to make it the shape of your model. See how it all is the shape of the robot-guy-thing? It's actually inside him, i just turned on an option called X-Ray so I could see it.

Build your armature until you think it looks good enough to be the moving skeleton of your model.Once this is completed, parent the object to the selected bones using Ctrl+P > With automatic weights.

This'll make the armature move the model when it moves. To try this, switch to Pose Mode and right click on a bone you wan to move. Press R to move a bone around, watch your model follow.

This was a very basic explanation and i'm kinda gritting my teeth right now not to write a novel on it but you'll find a lot more stuff as you get better with Blender. If you want to see some of it, and it's pretty complicated, just search IK on this site. Your brain will go boom.

Sorry if I went to long.

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    $\begingroup$ So, "parenting" in Blender = attaching the object. I think I get it though, thanks a bunch! Two questions though, Does each piece of the character's limbs need to be a separate object before I can give him a skeleton? And how do I activate X-ray mode? $\endgroup$ – Vector Lightning Dec 7 '14 at 3:53
  • $\begingroup$ X-ray is an option for any object in the orange box object tab of the properties thing, under draw. It's been a while but basically an armature is attached to an object with a modifier and vertex weight groups say how much each bone affects each vert. You don't have to seperate anything, the armature can bend the verts anyway, this is why clothes and skin are animatable. $\endgroup$ – StarWeaver Dec 7 '14 at 8:37
  • $\begingroup$ About the "seperated objects per limb": You don't need this, because this is what the weights are for. Every bone will store data about WHICH vertex will be influenced by this bone and HOW MUCH the bone influences the vertex. (So, a shoulder-vertex can in fact move a little bit if you turn your head, and can also move a little bit if you move your arm, but it will never move as far as your arm or your head itself will move) $\endgroup$ – tkausl Dec 7 '14 at 11:08
  • $\begingroup$ In the particular picture, the objects were separated, so it wasn't a perfect example. But normally, you wouldn't separate them unless you needed to; (or didn't know how to =p) See this relevant Beta post: blender.stackexchange.com/questions/19313/… $\endgroup$ – Scalia Dec 9 '14 at 3:46

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