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Pose Library

Basically, the pose library is a tool to store poses of an armature. It is closely related to animation, but it can be very useful for static productions too. It might be a good idea to read the animation chapter first, if you have no idea of what are keyframes and actions in Blender.

Indeed, pose libraries are based on actions. However, they are not really animations, as long as you don’t load their Action datablock in the Action Editor window

The important ideas are:

  • Pose libraries are a specific way to represent actions, more usable for static productions.
  • Each pose of a library is materialized inside the underlying action by a “pose marker”.
The same Action datablock in the Action Editor and as pose library.
The pose markers in the Action Editor (the small blue diamonds at the bottom) are the poses in the library.
Here we see that pose P_1 only concerns bones Bone.006 and Bone.007, whereas pose P_2 affects all bones.

Creating a Pose Library

Mode: Pose mode

Panel: Link and Materials

The Link and Materials panel in Pose mode.
Without pose library.
With an empty pose library.
With a pose in the library.

You have several ways to create a pose library.

The simplest one is just to add a first pose from a 3D view (see below), which will automatically add a pose library.

You can also use the only drop-down list control available by default under the Pose Library control group, in the Link and Materials panel (Editing context, F9), and chose the ADD NEW option.

Number of action datablock users
You might wonder why you have the “number of users” button of your new “PoseLib” action datablock set to 2? Well, in Blender, all Action datablocks have by default the “fake user” option enabled, so that they are always kept in Blender files, even when they are used nowhere in the project – hence, when you only use it as pose library, it has two users. And if you load it also in the Action Editor window, it’ll have three users…

But pose libraries are Action datablocks, so you can also reuse an action you created in the normal way (see the animation pages). To do so, use the same drop-down list to select the action you want. Reusing existing actions as pose libraries has some extra features, detailed below.

Exclamation mark.png
Remember that actions supersedes pose libraries, which means that if you have or load an action datablock in the Action Editor window, its pose animation will take place, and the only way for you to see and edit the poses (markers) it contains will be to go to the relevant frames…

Adding Poses

Mode: Pose mode

Panel: Link and Materials

Hotkey: ⇧ ShiftL

Menu: Pose » Pose Library » Add/Replace Pose

The primary way of adding a pose is to either click on the Add Pose button in the Link and Materials panel, or to select the Pose » Pose Library » Add/Replace Pose menu entry (⇧ ShiftL). Note that as with the copy/paste pose tool (and of course, as when defining keyframes), only the selected bones are “stored” in the pose.

Each time you add a new pose, a small dialog pops-up, where you can enter a name for it (note that you cannot cancel the new pose at this step – hitting Esc will just validate the default name…).

The PoseLib Add Current Pose menu.

If you use the 3D view shortcut or menu entry while already using a defined pose, a PoseLib Add Current Pose menu pops-up, with three choices:

  • Add New will add a new pose, exactly as if you had clicked on the Add Pose button of the Link and Materials panel.
  • Add New (Current Frame) will add a new pose, if none yet existed at the current frame, else it will replace the one already present at this frame.
  • Replace Existing will just replace the pose you select in the Replace PoseLib Pose menu that pops-up (see below).

Each time you add a new pose, you are in fact adding the relevant keyframes at a new, first pose-free frame, along with a pose marker, in the underlying action datablock.

This leads us to another way to create poses (aka pose markers) from an existing Action datablock. If you select one of these as the pose library of your armature (in the Link and Materials panel), you’ll see that by default, it contains no poses, even though it has many keyframes. You have two ways to creates poses from this action:

  • Automatically, using the Auto-Sync Pose Lib button of the Link and Materials panel. Blender will then create a new pose (marker) each times it encounters a keyframe in the action.
  • Manually, in the Action Editor window, by creating/grabbing the pose markers (see the action editor pages in the animation chapter for more details). Note that pose markers are always placed exactly at frames, like standard markers.
Reusing a standard action as pose library.
An action normally created (i.e. by inserting keyframes).
Note that there is no pose library enabled yet.
The Action datablock is now also used as pose library (note the “3” user button), but has no poses yet.
The poses (markers) as automatically created by the Auto-Sync PoseLib button (note they all have the same name…).
You could also have created the pose markers by hand, in the Action Editor window.

Editing Poses

Mode: Pose mode

Panel: Link and Materials

Hotkey: CtrlL, ⇧ ShiftL, Ctrl⇧ ShiftL, AltL

Menu: Pose » Pose Library » Browse Poses, Pose » Pose Library » Add/Replace Pose, Pose » Pose Library » Rename Pose, Pose » Pose Library » Remove Pose

To select the pose on which you want to work, you can:

  • Select it in the PoseLib Poses drop-down list, in the Link and Materials panel, or…
  • In the 3D view, use Pose » Pose Library » Browse Poses (CtrlL), and then scroll up/down with Wheel Template-MW.png (or use Pageup/Pagedown) to circle through all available poses (the name of the currently shown pose is displayed in the header bar). You can even filter the set of poses among which you circle, by typing a common part of their names (e.g. if you want to only see the poses containing “arm” in their name, type “arm”).
The 3D view header when browsing/previewing the poses.
By default, it displays the name of the currently drawn pose.
When you type a piece of pose name, you enable the filter.
If there is no pose matching the filter…

Once you have selected a pose, you can do a few things:

To rename it:

  • Click and type a new name in its text field of the Link and Materials panel, or…
  • Use the Pose » Pose Library » Rename Pose menu entry (Ctrl⇧ ShiftL), select the pose you want to rename in the Rename PoseLib Pose menu that pops-up, and type in the dialog that appears the new name.
About pose names
The naming of poses, especially those created through the Auto-Sync PoseLib button, seams to be a bit buggy – you can easily get several poses with the same name, without even the usual “.nnn” leading number.

To delete it:

  • Click on the small “X” button to the left of its name, in the Link and Materials panel, or…
  • Use the Pose » Pose Library » Remove Pose menu entry (AltL).

To modify it, edit the bones as wanted, select the ones you want to store in this pose, and:

  • Click on the Replace Pose button of the Link and Materials panel, or…
  • Use the Pose » Pose Library » Add/Replace Pose menu entry (⇧ ShiftL), and select the third Replace Existing option in the PoseLib Add Current Pose menu that pops-up (detailed above).
About the Action Editor
Here we only talked about editing poses in the 3D views and Buttons window. Obviously, you can also affect them in the Action Editor window, by renaming/deleting the pose markers, by editing the keyframes at their frame, or by moving the pose markers to other frames… Note however that when a pose marker has no keyframe in “its” frame, its corresponding pose is “void” – i.e. is not interpolated from neighbors keyframes.
Remember also that when the action of the pose library is loaded in the Action Editor, its animation takes precedence on the poses…