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- 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
The linear nature of blend shape transitions can be limiting, when working on certain regions of a facial rig. For example, eye lids are often problematic, especially for characters with larger eyes. But Maya's in between blend shape option can be a great solution for blend shape transitions. Which require a carefully controlled path. So I've created a left blink morph target for this character, and you can see that it's sculpted so that it looks reasonably natural. The eye is not cutting through the lid, or anything like that.
And I've connected this target to the face. And when I activate the target you can see that the blink works pretty well, but in the midpoint of the blink the eyelid actually cuts through the eyeball just a bit. So, in order to correct this, I'm going to create an in-between blend shape and plug it into this transition for a more natural deformation. I'll select the Face Mesh and go to Edit > Duplicate. And then I want to move it off to the side, since this mesh has already been bound, I'm going to unlock the channels.
And then, translate it in X. And I'll call this Left Blink Fix. Next I'm going to select the Left Blink Fix then shift select the source. And go to Edit Deformers > Blend Shape > Add Options. So I want to add this new intermediate shape as an in-between target. So I'll make sure that the Add In-Between check box is turned on. I'll also want to specify the name of the blend shape node that I'm trying to modify.
This one is called BlendShape1. Remember that during the rigging process, you may also create additional intermediate blend shapes to help control your targets. So it's important that you identify the name of the blend shape node that you're trying to edit. And lastly, we will specify the target index. This character currently has a couple other morph targets fed into this blend shape node. A right frown and left frown shape. So if we expand the BlendShape1 node.
We can see that the left blink is actually the third index. The first being the right frown. The second being the left frown. So we'll enter three. As our target index, to make sure that the left blink is the shape that is receiving the in-between shape. Again make sure that the target is selected first, the source is selected second and then click Apply. I can close the blend shape target options window, and now the new target has been added to the blend shape. But I haven't made any sculpting changes to the target yet.
So I'll go in. Switch to component mode by right-clicking and choosing vertex. And with soft selection on, just quickly re-sculp this lid so that it rides on top of the eye ball. And now, when I activate the blend shape for the left blink, you'll see that at .5 it receives the intermediate shape that I've created and still hits the full left blink shape that I had previously started with. In some cases, multiple in-between shapes can be added to a single target in order to control the movement in great detail.
As you can see, adding new targets to an existing blend shape node is a quick and simple process and the in-between blend shape option is especially useful for addressing shape transitions. Which require multiple targets, or a less linear feel.