This plug-in for Maya exports the skin cluster weights of your selected mesh to a file, which can then be used to re-create the skinning of the model.

Exporting and importing of skin weights is an important step during the rigging process in case a character needs to be rebuild.

There are many other solutions for this process and they all differ in style and speed, whereas speed is the most important difference, especially with meshes of higher resolution.

transferSkinCluster only stores weights on a vertex id basis which might not be ideal in all cases where meshes vary in resolution. Though in most cases where it’s necessary to read and write skin weight data the source and destination model is the same.


Maya versions 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 on OS X, Windows 64 bit, Linux 64 bit.

Please see the general install guide.

You can use the icons from the download to create shelf buttons for the commands.

icTransferSkinCluster 0 0
Writes the skin cluster of the selected mesh to a file.

icTransferSkinCluster 1 0
Opens a window to let you select the skin cluster weights to import.

If you are interested in using the actual extraction command from the plug-in in your own scripts you can use the following command for help and usage:

transferSkinCluster -h

Select your skinned mesh and execute the export command.
After a successful export the export path is written to the script editor output.
The weight file is stored in the data folder of the current project as a regular text file with a custom extension (.scw).

After executing the import command a window will list all stored skin weights in the data folder of the current project.
Select the data set and click the import button. The weights file contains the name of the bound geometry and the influencing joints, so it is not necessary to select anything.

When selecting a weights file and the node names stored in the file do not match the content of the current scene a second list will show all the unmatched names from the file.
The window will also display various renaming options:

  • rename existing nodes in the scene by applying the selected node name from the list to the selected node in the scene
  • use a search and replace to rename the file content according to the existing scene nodes; this creates a new weights file with modified names which can then be used for import
  • add a prefix or suffix to rename the file content according to the existing scene nodes; this creates a new weights file with modified names which can then be used for import

For more information about the renaming options go to Menu > Help > Rename Help of the import window.

Because different Maya versions handle the order of skin influences differently it is possible that previously saved weights will be applied in reverse order with a different version of Maya.

If you encounter such problems when loading a weights file set the second argument of the command to either 0 or 1, depending on which version the weights were saved with and what the current version of Maya is.

Speed can be an important factor when writing and reading skin data and every tool is different in this aspect.

transferSkinCluster writes the skin weights of 14500 vertices in 1.82 seconds and needs 5.87 seconds to re-apply these.

The next fastest solution I came across wrote the data in 2.67 seconds and read it in 7.86 seconds.

Of course all this depends on the speed of the computer.

Version 1.43, updated 2016-04-30