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Selecting armature's bones

Mode: Edit mode

Panel: Bone panel

You can select and edit bones of armatures in Edit mode and in Pose mode. Here, we will see how to select bones in Edit mode. Selecting bones in Pose mode is similar to selecting in Edit mode with a few specific differences that will be detailed in the posing part.

Similar to vertices/edges selection in meshes, there are two ways to select whole bones in Edit mode:

  • directly, by selecting the bone's body
  • selecting both of its end points (root and tip)

This is an important point to understand, because selecting bones' ends only might lead to non-obvious behavior, with respect to which bone you actually select, see the .

Note that unlike the mesh draw type the armature draw type has no effect on selection behavior. In other words, you can select a bone's end or body the same way regardless of the bone visualization chosen.

Selecting bones' ends

To select bones' ends you have the standard selection methods.

action shortcut menu mouse
Select a bone’s end RMB Template-RMB.png-click on it
Add or Remove from the current selection ⇧ ShiftRMB Template-RMB.png
(De)select the ends of all bones A Select » Select/Deselect All
Invert the current selection CtrlI Select » Inverse
Box selection tool ON B Select » Border Select
Box selection click and drag LMB Template-LMB.png the box around the ends you want to add to the current selection
click and drag LMB Template-LMB.png to remove from the current selection
release LMB Template-LMB.png to validate
hit Esc or click RMB Template-RMB.png to cancel
Box selection tool OFF B or Esc RMB Template-RMB.png
Lasso selection click and drag CtrlLMB Template-LMB.png the lasso around the ends you want to add to the current selection
click and drag Ctrl⇧ ShiftLMB Template-LMB.png to remove from the current selection
release LMB Template-LMB.png to validate
hit Esc or click RMB Template-RMB.png to cancel

Inverse selection

As stated above, you have to remember that these selection tools are for bones' ends only, not the bones' bodies.

For example, the Inverse selection option (CtrlI) inverts the selection of bones’ ends, not of bones (see Inverse selection).

Remember that a bone is selected only if both its ends are selected. So, when the selection status of bones' ends is inverted, a new set of bones is selected.

Inverse selection
Two bones selected.
The result of the inverse selection (CtrlI): the bones’ ends selection has been inverted, and not the bones selection…

Selecting connected bones' ends

Another example is: when you select the root of a bone connected to its parent, you also implicitly select the tip of its parent (and vice versa).

Remember: when selecting bones' ends, the tip of the parent bone is the “same thing” as the root of its children bones.

Selecting Bones

By RMB Template-RMB.png-clicking on a bone’s body, you will select it (and hence you will implicitly select its root and tip).

To each selected bone corresponds a sub-panel in the Armature Bones panel (Editing context, F9). These sub-panels contain settings for some of the bones’ properties (regarding e.g. relationships between bones, bones’ influence on deformed geometry, etc.), as we will see later.

Using ⇧ ShiftRMB Template-RMB.png, you can add to/remove from the selection.

You also have some advanced selection options, based on their relations.

You can select at once all the bones in the chain which the active (last selected) bone belongs to by using the linked selection tool, L.

Linked bones selection
A single selected bone.
Its whole chain selected with L.

You can deselect the active bone and select its immediate parent or one of its children using respectively Select » Select Parent ([) or Select » Select Child (]). If you prefer to keep the active bone in the selection, use Select » Extend Select Parent (Ctrl[) or Select » Extend Select Child (Ctrl]).

Deselecting connected bones

There is a subtlety regarding connected bones.

When you have several connected bones selected, if you deselect one bone, you will in fact deselect its tip, but not its root if it is also the tip of another selected bone.

To understand this, look at Bone deselection in a selected chain.

Bone deselection in a selected chain
A selected chain.
After ⇧ ShiftRMB Template-RMB.png-clicking Bone.003

After ⇧ ShiftRMB Template-RMB.png-clicking Bone.003:

  • Bone.003's tip (which is same as Bone.004's root) is deselected
  • Bone is Bone.003's parent. Therefore Bone.003's root is same as the tip of Bone. Since Bone is still selected, its tip is selected. Thus the root of Bone.003 remains selected.