I wrote an exporter for blender models that works great for meshes. I'm attempting to extend that to bones defined in blender. However I haven't found good information for exporting bone data. How can I access bone data? I'd like access all the vertices that the bone affects, the weight of each vertex and the matrix. Do I need to export anything else for skeletal animation and dynamic dismemberment?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd reply but my suggestions suck (not happy with them, and not at all transferrable), and I was hoping you'd get a good answer. I currently do the rigging in my game, and just export with a .obj, all my animation is procedural. I started off trying to read from a Collada export but it's a horrible, horrible format. Let me know if you have luck with writing the python exporter. \$\endgroup\$ – Michael Dec 16 '11 at 7:13

My suggestion is honestly just to find a format that Blender will export its bones as well, and then look through the script of that format exporter. I was doing something similar and realized how much of a pain it was to find a good resource on exporting bones.

But here's this specification that helped me a lot, on armature modules

  • \$\begingroup\$ Neat, that looks like it has some of what I need. However, it doesn't have a list of the vertices the bone encompasses or the weight of those vertices. I see that it has a bool to show that a bone uses vertexgroups, but I don't see how to access that information. It seems that Blender must be able to export that data. Anyone know how to get to it? \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse Dec 12 '11 at 15:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Looks like I may be on to something. Since Blender uses vertex groups to define the groups for bones, I can just find the vertex group with the same name as the bone, and I've found all the vertices that belong to that bone. \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse Dec 12 '11 at 22:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sounds great :]. Sorry I couldn't help further than what I did, I had a similar, but slightly different project. So I hadn't more information. \$\endgroup\$ – Joshua Hedges Dec 15 '11 at 23:13

@Michael directed me to an excellent resource for exporting bones from Blender. It provides all the information I needed. It's actually already built into Blender, it's the DirectX Model Format.

Go to user preferences, addon section, "Import-Export" category and install "DirectX Model Format (.x)". Then use File->Export to select the newly added format.

This format exports not only the mesh information (vertices, triangles, quads, textures, etc), but also exports armature information, including the armature structure (parent/child relationships), transform matrices, which vertices are included in each bone and even the bone weights for each vertex. Animation sequences are exported too.

All in a human readable ASCII format, so it's easy to write an importer. Beautiful.

  • \$\begingroup\$ thanks a lot, but are bounding boxes also exported by that exporter \$\endgroup\$ – Martin Erhardt Sep 9 '12 at 8:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MartinErhardt You'll have to clarify what "that exporter" is. The .x format does not export bounding boxes. \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse Sep 9 '12 at 15:38

The IQM (Inter-Quake Model) format has a set of Blender exporters that will export skinned meshes with blend weights and the armature. Look to http://lee.fov120.com/iqm/ for documentation and code. You could also look at the Doom 3 format MD5 exporters.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks @ccxvii, the link you provided was really useful. \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse Dec 23 '11 at 3:31

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