Meaning of Loc x,y,z values in Transform (N) panel for bones

Given a rigged character, selecting a bone typically show up numeric values (+ or -) in the loc, rot and scale sections of the transform (N) panel.
What would the loc values for a bone (say right foot) mean? Do they refer to distance (in Blender units) from some specific point? If I place the cursor at that foot, the values of the cursor location (position) are quite different.

I am confused and would appreciate to know how the loc values are to be interpreted.

If you have a bone in edit mode selected, the location refers to the origin point of the armature (as the name says).

In pose mode, with the rig cleared of all transforms (alt-g, alt-s, alt-r, or basically the rest pose), the values for location & rot should be 0 (or close to it) and scale should be 1 (or close to it). I say ‘basically the rest pose’, and ‘close to it’ because sometimes constraints could affect the bones even when they are cleared of transforms. So the loc, rot, and scale values are the position of the bones in relation to their rest pose. Grab a foot/leg controller and move it, the loc value changes depending upon how much you move the controller from it’s rest pose. If you have a mesh that is the floor and a character positioned (in object mode) so it’s feet are on the floor, go into pose mode and type a 1 into z-loc for a foot controller bone, the foot should now be positioned 1 blender unit above the floor.

Also note, rot has 4 fields, w, x, y, and z. This is a 4-axis rotation, known as quaternions and quite hard for normal humans to understand. In blender 2.5/6 versions, you can change the rotation to 3-axis system, or eulers, and now they represent the degrees of rotation in the x, y, and z-axis.


Thank you, Josef.
Makes sense once you state it and glad to be reminded.

A carefully worded explanation. Thank you, Randy. I have certainly noticed that the bone loc values usually start with 0 but change when moved. Bones for belly or spine seem to have permanent 0 values as they typically only rotate.
The quaternion thing has been a puzzle but you have helped. I just stick to Euler rots in degrees.
Thanks again. A nice feeling when other members come to your help.