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Chapter 5. Character Setup for Animating... > Creating Advanced Face Controls

Creating Advanced Face Controls

The face is the most complex area on the human body, and as such, requires some special considerations. To create believable face expressions, you must be able to control all the subtleties created from facial muscles flexing. The problem with using only blend shapes is that there is a moment in the middle of a morph between shapes when the face isn’t moving like a real face. Even adding in-between shapes doesn’t completely fix this problem. On the other hand, using only influences on the face is both time consuming to pose and can use a lot of system resources. Usually, it is best to use a combination of these two methods to create levels of control over posing the face. The goal is to have a set of high-level controls that create overall face poses, while also having a complete set of low-level controls for making asymmetrical variations in posing for all the areas of the face.

Mimicking the Muscles of the Face

The human face is composed of lots of little muscles that surround each eye and radiate out from the mouth. To create influences that mimic the main face muscles, you must know where the muscles originate, and where they are inserted. The origin point is where the muscle flexes from, while the insertion point is what is moved when the muscle flexes. In a real human body, the insertion point can be on bones, other muscles, or skin. In the face, most of the insertion points are moving either the jaw bone, other muscles, or skin. Using an anatomy book as a guide, try to draw the face-muscle skeletons so that they start at the correct origin points, and end at the correct insertion points (see Figure 5.18). Then to animate the face skeletons, you primarily set keys on the X scaling of each muscle skeleton.


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