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Creating Blend Shapes

This section shows you how to create and edit blend shapes to animate facial expressiveness. A blend shape is used to morph between a main shape and any number of target shapes. It is an easy and efficient way to have your character’s face deform smoothly from one facial expression to another. Multiple blend shapes can be mixed while animating to produce a wide variety of facial poses. This section also shows you how to correctly combine bound influences and blend shapes on the face skin to produce the best results.

Tips for Making Target Shapes

The most efficient way to create blend shapes is to create separate targets for each expressive area of the face. The two main expressive areas on a face are the area of the eyes and the area of the mouth. The reason you want to separate these facial areas when creating targets, as opposed to making separate targets for the whole face, is to enable you to mix areas of expression during animation. Instead of making an angry face target, and a happy face target, you make an angry eyes target, angry mouth target, happy eyes target, and happy mouth target. You can then mix the targets, combining angry eyes with a happy mouth for instance, to create a maniacal expression (see Figure 5.9). Just do the math to see how this is more efficient. If you create 6 eye shapes and 6 mouth shapes, you have 36 possible combinations of shapes. This is much more efficient than creating 36 target shapes for the whole face, because you only had to create 12 shapes to get the same number of expressions.


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