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I don't recall since which version of Blender but I've noticed that literally all my character models and armatures no longer work with automatic bone weights feature. None. Every single time get this error:

Bone Heat Weighting: failed to find solution for one or more bones

Actually, Blender fails to find solution for any of the bones.

Here's an example blend with a simplified armature and mesh to be parented to the armature ready. Try it yourself: http://www.pasteall.org/blend/42650

Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but Blender didn't complain few versions back. What might be the issue?

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One of the requirements for automatic bone weighting is to have a single mesh; your is made of many separate parts. I selected the main (body) vertices, then inverted the selection, hid the selected spare parts, then the auto weight went allright. Then you will have to manually weight the spare parts (or join them with the main mesh, manifold and unbroken). Auto weighting is an useful shortcut, but we cannot ask it for the complete job.

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  • $\begingroup$ Being a programmer I can say with 100% certainty that it's a bug that Blender fails to generate weights for a mesh which has some unconnected polygons. This is 100% a bug and I suspect it was introduced when updating the automatic weighting (bone heat) code at some point. Yes, this feature is not a replacement or complete automatic skinning button, but it is definitely a bug that it fails at this. In any case, answer accepted since it's a solution until Blender devs fix this if ever (I'm not a C++ programmer to help myself) $\endgroup$ – Leo Ervin Jul 8 '16 at 23:38
  • $\begingroup$ It would also help if Blender (for now) would mention that it wants mesh without disconnected polygons. Maybe could be aded to the hint box of that command. We shouldn't just be left to guess it or dive into pages of online articles and discussion sites to find that out. $\endgroup$ – Leo Ervin Jul 8 '16 at 23:41

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