Basic Facial Animation with the Use of Shape Keys

show more Facial animation using shape keys provides you with in-depth training on 3D + Animation. Taught by George Maestri as part of the Blender Essential Training show less
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Facial animation using shape keys

Now let's dive into character rigging. We're going to start with facial animation and take a very quick look at how to create facial shapes for animating your characters. I'm going to start with this little creature that we've been building. And the way that you do facial animation in Blender is using what are called shape keys. Now, you can find these under the Object Data panel. So if I select my object and under my Object Data panel, you'll see a rollout here called Shape Keys.

Now what this does is it remembers various shapes that you model into the character. So this is a little bit different than morphing or blend shapes in that everything is located here. You don't create separate models and then combine them together; you just create them on the fly. So I'm going to hit the plus sign here, and this creates a key called Basis, and that's just my basic key. This is my neutral position of my character. And I'm going to keep that like it is.

And I'm going to add in a second one by hitting the plus key again. And let's just do a really simple mouth shape. I'm going to go ahead and do one called Closed_mouth, and we're just going to type that in. And now, all we have to do is model that. So let me show you very quickly how this works. I'm going to hit the Tab key to go into Edit mode, and I want to be in Vertex mode right now. And I just want to close the character's mouth. So I'm going to turn on Proportional Editing-- that will help me a little bit--and make sure that I've got my proportions right by hitting G and rolling my middle mouse button.

And now once I do, I'm just going to go ahead and start moving parts of his mouth so that we can close his mouth. And again, I'm just Shift+Right-clicking and selecting these vertices here, and so I'm just trying to get that mouth closed. So as I start to move up, you'll notice that my proportional editing is pushing that part of the mouth up, so I'm just going to turn that off for a second here and try and get his mouth fairly closed. And I can even pull it down a little bit from the top here, so I'm just going to go ahead and select that vertices along the top of his mouth and pull that down as well, and there we go.

So now I have another shape. Now I can continue to model this. I can make really any shape that I want, but once I'm there, all I have to do is jump to Object mode and the object goes back to the base key. Now, this closed mouth that I just created has a number associated with it, and that is the value that we get right here. So I've got my character now opening and closing his mouth. Now you can see it probably a little bit easier if I put on a subdivision surface.

So I'm going to go over to my Object Modifier panel and select Subdivision Surface and then go back to my Object Data panel, and let's go ahead and see how he closes his mouth. Okay, so now his mouth isn't quite closed, but we can certainly fix that by going back into Edit mode. So when I go into Edit mode, you can see that because I have Closed_mouth selected, I have that key, no matter what it's dialed in at. So then I can select these underlying vertices here. Actually, I'm going to go into Edge mode and select these.

There we go and there we go. So now I've got his mouth closed. So we can continue along with this. This is just a real basic example here. You can do multiple mouth shapes. You can do shapes for the eyes. You can do blinks, that sort of thing. You can really create as many shapes as you want. And once you have multiple shapes, you can dial them in or mix them. Now, I have one that I've already done here, and this is called Chap11_02.blend, and in this one I added in another shape key, and that's a blink.

So what I can do is I can take that and I can blink the character and I can close the mouth, so these are additive. So you can add them together and mix them together just like you would with any other type of shape animation.

Facial animation using shape keys
Video duration: 4m 40s 7h 47m Beginner Updated Aug 13, 2014


Facial animation using shape keys provides you with in-depth training on 3D + Animation. Taught by George Maestri as part of the Blender Essential Training

3D + Animation
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