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I am rigging a bird and all my wing feathers are linked duplicates with the same mesh data. I would like to keep the objects linked in case I want to change the shape of the feathers later.

wing

My problem is that if I weight paint one feather to the rig, all feathers are connected to the same bone, since they share their mesh data and vertex groups. Is it possible to unlink the vertex groups, or somehow weight paint them individually, while still keeping the shape of the mesh linked?

enter image description here

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You can't have linked vertex position without also having all of your mesh data (weights, but also shapekeys, UV, vertex color) linked.

Some things you can do instead:

  1. Unlinked objects that are surface deformed from a master prototype to track non-topological changes in the prototype
  2. Linked objects that are individually bone parented
  3. Use modifiers, like vertex weight edit or geometry nodes, to create your weights on linked meshes
  4. Create your object by applied modifiers that act like links, modifiers like an array or geometry nodes instancing
  5. Use a modifier, like a data transfer, to copy weights to all your linked meshes from some other weighted (and non-rendering) mesh.
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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer. Your list of alternatives is really helful. :) $\endgroup$
    – Daisy
    Jul 3 at 21:03

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