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Chapter 12. Deformations and Movement > Setting Up Skelegons for Facial Deforma...

Setting Up Skelegons for Facial Deformation

Creating endomorphs in Modeler for a face, and then using MorphMixer in Layout to animate those morph targets, is a great way to go. At times, however, using bones rather than, or even with MorphMixer is a good idea. Of course, the choice is up to you and your project at hand. This next exercise shows you how and where to place bones in a character’s face for facial animation.

Exercise 12.6 Placing Bones for Facial Animation

In Modeler, load the BoneHead_Blank object from the book’s CD.

Go to an empty layer, and place layer 1 (the head) in a background layer. Figure 12.34 shows the setup.

Figure 12.34. A new layer is brought to the foreground, and the head object layer is in the background.

From the Create tab, select Skelegons. In the Right view, click and drag up in the center of the neck to create a Skelegon for the neck area.

Click above the initial Skelegon, creating another Skelegon to the back of the jaw, as in Figure 12.35. These two bones will act as anchors for the head, and give added control. Then add one larger bone for the head itself.

Figure 12.35. Create three Skelegons in a hierarchy, starting at the neck, up to the back of the jaw, to the head.

Press the spacebar to turn off the Skelegon tool. Now you’ll create an additional hierarchy. This setup will control the lower jaw area of the face. From the Right view, starting at the bottom of the jaw, draw out a Skelegon about 30mm, to the front of the jaw. Create another Skelegon from there by clicking once under the lip, as in Figure 12.36.

Figure 12.36. Starting at the base of the jaw, start a Skelegon chain. Create two Skelegons for the chin area.


You can use the Skelegon Tree from the Detail tab to see your Skelegon hierarchy and rename the Skelegons for clarity.

Make sure the last Skelegon you created is selected (front of the chin) and continue and create three more Skelegons by clicking up toward the lower lip in the Back view, looking at the front of the face. Click once to the right of the lower lip about half way to the corner of the mouth, about 10mm, and click again at the corner of the mouth. Figure 12.37 shows the three new Skelegons.

Figure 12.37. Continue creating three more Skelegons for the jaw area up through the lip.

Remember to adjust your Skelegons by clicking and dragging within the small circles at the end of each Skelegon. Clicking outside the circles will create additional child Skelegons, so be careful.

Press the spacebar to turn off the Skelegon tool. Select the two bones to the right of center, and using the Mirror tool (Ctrl+v), mirror the selected Skelegons to the left side of the lip, as in Figure 12.38. Be sure that the Merge Points option is enabled in the numeric window for the Mirror tool. Because these two Skelegons were child Skelegons of the center lower lip bone, the mirrored bones are children of that Skelegon as well. To see the hierarchy, open the Skelegon Tree from the Detail tab.

Figure 12.38. After the right side of the lip’s Skelegons have been created and positioned using the Drag tool, you can mirror them to the left side.


When you create the Skelegons, before you press the spacebar to turn off the Skelegon tool, you can click and drag directly within the small circles at the end of each Skelegon to position them. Carefully position the Skelegons using all views so that they line up within the upper lip area.

Select the five Skelegons that make up the lower lip, and in the Right view, mirror them to the upper lip, as in Figure 12.39.

Figure 12.39. Because the upper lip resembles the lower, you can just mirror the Skelegons rather than rebuild them.

Use the Drag tool to position the upper lip Skelegons so that they are centered within the lip area. You also might use the Move tool to move the Skelegons into place and then use the Drag tool for added detailed placement.

Press the spacebar to turn off any tool that you’ve been using. You’re going to want more control over the mouth area, so draw two separate Skelegons on either side of the nose, as in Figure 12.40.

Figure 12.40. Add more control for the mouth area by adding two separate Skelegons on each side of the nose.

Now add some control in the jaw. From the Right view, click and draw out a Skelegon starting at the base of the ear, down toward the chin. Create three Skelegons.

Position the hierarchy using the Move and Drag tools, paying attention to their positioning in all views. Figure 12.41 shows the new Skelegons.

Figure 12.41. A hierarchy of Skelegons is created on one side of the face for the jaw area, down to the chin, and mirrored to the other side of the face.

You can add even more control in the face by creating a couple of Skelegons for the cheeks. Draw out one Skelegon, remembering to position it using the Move and Drag tools as needed, paying attention to all views. Once in place, mirror it to the other side of the face. Figure 12.42 shows the cheek Skelegons.

Figure 12.42. Cheek Skelegons are set in place for added control.

Press the spacebar to turn off any tools you might have been using. Now you can create the Skelegons for the eye area. Similar to the lower lip, start below the right eye and create three Skelegons—one up, and then two to the right. Use the Drag tool to position the Skelegons. Figure 12.43 shows the Skelegons.

Figure 12.43. The lower eye hierarchy is started, beginning below the eye.

To make things easy, select the two Skelegons to the right of the lower eye. Then select the Mirror tool (Ctrl+v) from the Multiply tab and mirror them on the y-axis. Figure 12.44 shows the action.

Figure 12.44. The two Skelegons of the lower eye are mirrored, finishing the hierarchy for the lower eye. You can use the Drag tool if needed to adjust and position the mirrored Skelegons.

Mirror the entire lower eye hierarchy to the upper eye, and then mirror those eye Skelegons to the other side of the face. Adjust with the Drag tool as needed. Figure 12.45 shows the final structure for the eyes.

Figure 12.45. The lower-right eye Skelegons have been mirrored to the upper-right eye. That entire structure has been mirrored to the other side of the face.

Save your object if you haven’t already. Now add just a few control bones for the eyebrow area and nose. Figure 12.46 shows the selection.

Figure 12.46. A few more Skelegons complete the Skelegon structure for the face. Two Skelegons are added for the eyebrows, and three Skelegons are built down the nose. The full facial Skelegon structure has been created.

Save your object. Figure 12.46 shows the full Skelegon structure. Send the object to Layout.

With the object loaded in Layout, convert the Skelegons to bones (Item tab, Add, Bones, Convert Skelegons to Bones).

Select the Bonehead:skin object layer and click the Bones button. Then click the Item Properties button. In the Properties panel, for Use Bones From Object selection, choose the layer with your Skelegons. Figure 12.47 shows the selection.

Figure 12.47. Because the Skelegons were created in their own layer in Modeler, you need to tell the head object to use those Skelegons with the Use Bones From Object option.

Select the first bone you created for the base of the chin. This bone is located below the chin, lying flat on the z-axis. Press y to rotate, and click and drag on the green rotational handle to rotate the pitch. Note that Show Handles should be On from the Display Options tab (d).

Rotate the mouth open a bit. Select a bone in the upper eye and move it down slightly. You’ll see the eyelid begin to close.



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