3MST – Journal #5

Not to be negative, but I’m really starting to get tired of looking at these characters stupid faces and dealing with their problems! 😉  These face designs are not “normal” so trying to create expressions has been quite annoying.

In Blender, shape keys “are used to deform the object vertices into a new shape.” This is the basis for blinking, lip-syncing and any other general or specific facial expression.

I have a standard set of expressions that I create for all my characters, which can consist of just one shape key, or multiple keys.  The process is quite tedious and involves moving each applicable vertice (or point) of the mesh to create the desired shape.  The concept below illustrates a simple “Bottom Lip Down” shape key.


Once the keys are created, one can combine them and create fluid expressions.  A smile, for example, could use up to 10 shape keys, both for the mouth and the eyes.  When you smile, the corners of your mouth aren’t the only things moving.  Your eyes may squint a bit, your cheeks may puff out.  Skin is pulled taut or loose in several places.


One can, technically, have unlimited shape keys at their disposal, and I’ve found even during a production, the standard set is never quite enough and I end up adding several more, depending on the audio I’m working with.

I’m dying to animate something, so next week I’ll probably start sketching out some concepts for this month’s 11 Second Club challenge.  I’ve really been itching to hand-draw another project and the audio clip is right up my alley.

At the same time, I’ll finish up these characters and be on schedule to animate them by June.  Have a great week!