Blender Rigging and Animation

I’m new to Unreal Engine 4 and I’m trying to put together a basic FPS game for a hobby. I don’t really have the budget for Maya otherwise I would have got it as it seems to have a well documented rigging system for UE4.

So about Blender; Is it actually possible to correctly rig character meshes in Blender for use in UE4? If so should I be using Blender and using Rigify? Or should I be exporting the default mannequin from UE4 and remapping it’s skeleton in Blender for my character and then importing it back into UE4? There are a lot of youtube videos on this, but a lot of them are very outdated and totally different approaches. It would be great if there was better documentation on this and clear direction. Also in my testing I noticed that when using Rigify in Blender I had to set the scene scale to 0.01 for the bone sizes to import properly in UE4. Seems to also be a lot of conflicting info on this Blender issue as well.

Regarding the animations, is it best to use something like Blender to do the animations and then import them into UE4? Or is a solution like Allright Rig a better option and make them right in UE4?

I would have thought there would be more concise documentation or videos for using Blender with UE4.

So there are issues with importing the UE4 mannequin into Blender - rotation/scale can be a problem but I think there are some versions of it around that work with Blender.

Personally I think I’d make my own rig with the right naming conventions so I could stick to Blender forward of Y axis. You are right about the 0.01 scale problem I normally have my scene set to Metic and scale of 0.01.

One of the things that drive me nuts if having to yaw by -90˚ when importing but I did see a note about rotating to X axis for the FBX importer in 4.15 which I have not checked out yet.

Allright Rig looks very good - def. worth checking out IMO.

Yes. I would probably use the rig from UE Tools ([ADDON ] UE Tools - Community & Industry Discussion - Epic Developer Community Forums), that way you can retarget mannequin animations to your rig. You might also want to check out Prevent Blender FBX Exporter adding extra root bone – Kris Redbeard to fix extra root bones (solves issues with APEX for example). Note that if you do so you’ll have to move the IK bones in the UE Tools rig under the root in the hierarchy since they are on the same level as the root bone by default for some reason.

For me animations export and import correctly without having to change anything.

Blender to UE4 works well (reverse from UE4 to Blender is not that great). If you would create all your anims yourself in Blender then you could go with Rigify. If not then I would recommend staring with a rig that is a bit more similar to UE4. If you would use the anim starterpack or marketplace anims then the pose (that should be similar to the UE4 mannequin A-pose) is most important as you would retarget for a different skeleton (even if bonenames are the same). There is the already mentinoned plugin from Lui. You could give Makehuman or Manuel Bastioni Laboratory a try (the later one should contain twist bones in upcoming 1.5). New project released by MakeHuman team leader - General Discussion - Unreal Engine Forums …or just create one yourself from scratch.

So in order to get an Skeletal mesh from blender to UE.

  1. You need to untick “leaf bones” in Blenders FBX export options. This will greatly simplify your rig and make it run faster in engine.
  2. You need to make sure that the forward direction of the rig is facing down the Y axis.

Is that Y Forward or -Y Forward?

Thanks for the input. I will have to try the UE Tools, and Manuel Bastioni Laboratory, and also Allright Rig.

So just to make sure I have this right; If I used the UE Tools addon for Blender this would give me the most flexibility? This is because it can be easily re-targeted with the marketplace animations or the animations can be done in Blender with it? What are the pros and cons to making all of the animations in Blender? What are the pros and cons to using Maya vs Blender? Are there any detailed tutorials or documentation on how to create a rig with the UE Tools addon from a custom made character in Blender?

Would it be possible to make a good game with good animations using all Blender with Rigify animations?

I’m really struggling to get the UE Tools working in Blender. The youtube videos on using blender seem to be all garbage and made by people that don’t actually know what they are doing. For this reason I’m thinking of switching to Maya.

Can anyone let me know if the ART plugin works with just Maya LT?

Rather than just saying you’re struggling you can tell us what you’re struggling with so we can help you.

Some steps for a UE4 tools rig:

  1. Install the addon and enable it in the addons panel.
  2. Select the UE4 Tools panel to the left and clicking Open UE4 Tools, Animation Tools and Append Hero Rig, including the hero (mannequin) mesh.
  3. Edit the pose of your model so it matches with the mannequinn mesh.
  4. Delete the mannequinn and parent your mesh to the rig with automatic weights. Fix weights manually if necessary.
  5. Export to UE4 and retarget animations (if you want) or create your own in Blender.

Thanks for getting back to me cyaoeu. The main part I am struggling with is this video for the UE4 Tools addon for blender: Specifically when he gets to the part with setting the parent, and weight on the individual bones. The video is so fast I can’t get the steps very well.

Would you happen to know if there are any videos that go into more slower detail of steps 3, and 4 in your list?

I don’t really know of any video. But what he does is pretty unnecessary (data transfer/bone heat per bone), you can just click the mesh, shift click the rig and do Ctrl+P and choose with automatic weights and do everything at the same time. But before so you need to disable Deform for the IK bones and remove the tiny “Bone” to not mess up the weights. Don’t forget to reenable Deform before exporting the rig to UE4 though because otherwise they won’t get exported (with default settings). The bone panel is the icon with the bone and the armature panel is the icon with the stick figure. To see the IK bones you will need to enable layer 2 in the armature panel.

What I meant with editing the pose of the mesh is to change the vertices in edit mode with proportional editing so they match up with the bones of the mannequin rig. If you’re not used to modeling it could be hard though so in that case you can change the rig instead. Though if you change the rotations of the bones your retargeting will look bad if you don’t change the base pose when retargeting. Just scaling the bones will keep the rotations matched between the UE4tools rig and the UE4 mannequin rig and will give a better result without the need to change the base pose at all.

After parenting the mesh to the rig with automatic weights some parts will probably look pretty bad still, like the head when rotating the head bone. The head should only move with the head bone (no deformation from other bones) so to fix that select all vertices in the head and find the vertex group for the head in the object data panel (triangle looking thing in edit mode for the mesh) and assign with a weight of 1. You can repeat this for any other rigid parts.

If you get stuck again you can check out the forum at, you can search for problems there since lots of people have probably had the same issue before.

cyaoeu. Thanks so much for your help!

I was stumped for a few hours as to why my feet were deforming to the ground and my hands also deforming.

As you suggested I turned “IK” to off, deleted the small “bone” which was hidden in the left elbow, and then select Layer 2 and deleted the bones, and then parented my mesh to the Layer 1 object of the HeroTPP using automatic weighting. Things are now moving with my mesh properly in Pose mode. I think there are just some very small weighting issues left over.

I’ll check out that website as soon as I have a few minutes! I was able to find this video which was also helpful in the process: Rigging Mesh Blender in ADDON UE4 Sckeleton - YouTube

cyaoeu. the character is working well now after importing into unreal engine.

I’ve just noticed one small problem, and I’m not sure if it’s a big deal or not. It seems to be related to makehuman, but since it is somewhat part of this workflow I thought it best to post on this thread. When I import the makehuman/blender character the feet show up as being few cm off the ground. Would you happen to know what might cause this? See image. makehuman-feet.png

Yes, you need to edit the physics asset and delete the toe physics body and align the feet physics body to the mesh by moving it up/rotating it.

Thanks cyaoeu. That has fixed it in the mesh and skeleton view for my custom character, but when I re-target an animation from the “AnimStarter Pack” there is still a gap. My goal is to be able to use the Unreal marketplace animations, and also do animations in Blender if needed. See image.

Did you set the pelvis retargeting option to scaled? If setting that doesn’t work either you can export a mannequin animation to your drive, import it and set the import translation for the Z axis to -9 or so and retarget, open the animation and change the import translation again and reimport until it looks good, then bulk export the animations you want to retarget and import them with the same setting, then retarget again.

root = anim, pelvis = anim scaled, all other bones to skeleton (except those IK helper bones). Like this: New project released by MakeHuman team leader - General Discussion - Unreal Engine Forums. If there is only some small (equal) offset in the anim previews in all of your anims afterwards ignore it. You have to put the skeleton mesh to the bottom of your capsule in the character BP anyway.

Thanks guys, that fixed it. Pretty excited, now that I have the character workflow setup. I can actually start modelling characters. Maybe we should update the documentation for MakeHuman to Blender to Unreal workflow? I’ll post all of what I have so far shortly.

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Oct 2015

Using Blender I used an add on called auto rig (the latest update only) I took a low poly mesh that my friend made in Zbrush, then I used auto rig in Blender. Then with Auto Rig I exported the game engine rig (for Unity and Unreal), that enabled me to re-target all the SK_Mannequin mocap files in Unreal to my own mesh. So basically the frogman Rig you see a Blender Rig re-targeted to Unreal's SK_Mannequin free mo cap animation files
The Blender auto rig is available here....

The auto rig pro at Blender market for $30 gives me access to the SK_Mannequin rig mo cap. This rig was made in Blender but is using the SK_Mannequin walk cycle. Surely you will have to tweak some rotations after you duplicate the re-targeted animation from the SK_Mannequin to your Blender rig, but it worked. Frogman test, Blender to Unreal AutoRig capabilities. - YouTube. I am about to try it with the Unreal Ninja animations I bought from Unreal. With the Blender auto rig pro Unity and Unreal export rig (a special process to export game engine rigs) that re-targeting is possible I post the results.