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- View Offline
- Understanding morph targets
- Using Soft Select, Artisan Sculpt tools, and symmetry options
- Splitting symmetrical shapes into asymmetrical pairs
- Connecting eye rotation to the GUI
- Working with eyelids, using blend shapes or fan joints
- Creating a basic UI control
- Connecting controls
- Orienting joints and creating a support structure
- Attaching joints to the support structure
- Binding joints to the final mesh
- Balancing shape fidelity with rig density and usability
Skill Level Intermediate
In this lesson, I'll cover a few basic headlines to consider when building an off the face setup. And also explore how careful placement of the controls near the face can create the impression of an on face set up and make for a more intuitive animation process. So, I have a left and right variation of the cheek blend shapes, and they're just connected to the UI using expressions. You can see that both the left and right cheek perform identically, which is that the cheeks puff out when I slide the controller to the right in X.
This might make sense numerically, but it's a little bit weird for an animator because they might expect to be puffing the cheek out when I slide the control to the left, since that's really the movement that sort of should be happening in the character's face. So you should consider how the orientation of the controls relates to the deformation that's happening on the character, especially when building these left and right asymmetrical off the face controls. I'm going to address this by going to the expression editor, window, animation editors, expression editor.
I'll select my cheek expression, and I'm just going to reverse my behavior of the right cheek and hit edit. So, now when I move the cheek control to the left, it's actually puffing the cheek toward the left, which maybe feels a bit more natural. Another way I could have handled this would have been to simply select the entire control group and rotate it 180 degrees in Y. And then leave the expression as I have it as before. So these are two different options for creating behavior of the controls that's going to match the physical movement of the character.
Another really easy modification to consider when using off-face control is to actually position them right at the location of the deformation for the character. So I'm just grabbing the left cheek control and putting it close to the face in the area where the deformation's happening. And I can do the same thing with the right cheek as well. Moving the control into a position that more closely approximates the area of influence. Now, when I grab this control, it might feel as though I'm actually tugging the character's skin around, and this can create a more tactile experience for the animators that can feel even more intuitive.
If I take one additional step and hide the frames, this will actually almost feel like an on-face control, even though it's just using very basic UI setup techniques. I'll just select the frames from the outliner and hide their visibility. It's also very important for the animator to be able to see the controls and the character's face when working with facial expressions. One really simple solution for this is to create a camera that moves with the character's head. I'll close the outliner and go to create, cameras, camera, and move to the side view, where I'll grab the newly created camera and just put it right in front of the character's face.
I'll look through the camera and modify the view, so that I can see the mesh clearly, as well as the controls. I'm going to switch back to the respective view, and now I'm just going to attach this new camera, which I will call face cam, to the character using a constraint. I'll select the head control, Shift select camera and choose constraint, parent. And I'll go to the options and make sure that maintain offset is on, so that the position of the camera doesn't pop.
I'll click apply and close the parent constraint options. And now when I move the character's head, the camera always follows. In order to keep the scene from feeling cluttered or confusing, I usually turn the visibility of the camera off, and then go in and lock and hide all of these attributes. But we can always go back to that camera by simply going to the panel's menu and selecting the face cam. Now, even as this character moves around and is posed, the camera continues looking at the character's face, making facial animation easy and accessible to the animator.
Even though we're still just working with simple controllers driving basic blend shapes, with thoughtful positioning of the graphic user interface, we can easily create a much more tactile experience for animators, who prefer to work directly on the face. And for both on-face and off the face set-ups, a pre-established face cam can help ensure that the character's expressions will be easy to view and edit, even when the character is hitting extreme body poses or moving within a more crowded environment.