facial expressions

Hi there, I have a question. How and what do i use to make moving facial expressions?

I’m guessing you mean on a head that’s made from a single mesh.
You’ll need to use shape keys. It’s next to the modifier tab.
It’s pretty simple.
You just click add shape key and then again, cause u want to keep your basis key, then go to edit mode, change whatever you want on the mesh (lets say a raised eyebrow), go back to object mode and you’ll have a slider that will let change from your base shape to your changed shape
Theres a good tutorial somewhere but can’t remember what or where it was. Just do a search on shapekeys and you’l find it.

Theres also a more advanced thing you can do which is driven shapekeys. Which is basically same as above except you can contol the shape keys with bones or objects instead of a slider, like mancandy’s facial rig.

thanks for the help. I’ve found the tutorial that you were talking about. I have one more question though. when i use the shape key tool can I record the movement of the facial expressions and then have it as an animation? like for example, I raise the eyebrow of my character’s face, i record the movement that i made to the face and then make a motion animation of it. I dont really know how to explain it but if anything I am willing to try again.

You key frame shape keys just like IPO’s and Actions. So, yes you can animate them.

Ok, so i think i understand what you mean. You don’t just mean adding key keyframes, your talking about recording the movements that you make and then converting that into keyframes. Sort of the same as when people want to record the movements they make in a BGE (blender game engine) game and then convert the movements to keys. If that’s what you mean, i have know idea if it’s possible.

If you mean just adding keyframes it just what Robo3Dguy said

your kind of correct. I do want to record the movement that ive made to the eyebrow, but i dont plan on using it for a game though. im trying to make a animation clip. If i were to move the eyebrow up, could i see the hole motion that i made to the eyebrow in the animation clip? Im basicly trying to record facial movement so i can make a video out of it.

HI, sorry if my post was misleading. Shape keyframes are made in the ShapeKey Editor (go to the action editor to find it and change the editing mode) Here’s an example of what I mean:

Say you want to raise an eyebrow. You will make a key at frame 1 then go to frame 30. Then you will slide the shape key slider to the desired position and add another key. Your eyebrow will now move from point A to point B in one second (if you’re running at 30 fps).

Here’s an example blend:


Robo3Dguy-shapekeyDemo.blend (145 KB)

Thanks Robo3Dguy for the file. I was able to create the facial expression that i wanted. The only thing that is bothering me now is that when i play the animation it runs kind of laggy. Id there a way to make the animation run smoother?

Do you mean it runs slowly?

It could be for 2 reasons:

#1 You have lots of polys moving at the same time (just slowing down your CPU)

#2 You have not animated the shape keys well (no offence or anything but especially with shape keys, if you don’t do it well, it won’t look good)

Hmm now that i think of it, doesn’t this animation key tool runs on time frames? you know like frames per second… like how 2D cartoons move?

Yes. Using the Action Editor is just like using the IPO editor. Only in the Action editor, you work with linear animation.

What is IPO?

It stands for InterPolatiOn. It is a method of animation which utilises key framing. See the link:


I hope that helps.

Which type of animation method do you think makes my animation run smoother?

Well for animating shape keys you have to use the Shape Key editor. IPO animation is for manipulating whole objects (moving them, rotating them, and scaling). So there is no other way.

Once im done with all of my key frames, how do i put them all in one movie?

Ok, one thing at a time here:

You have created sliders right? And now you want to animate them. You can look at the example I made to see how I keyframed the sliders in the ShapeKey Editor. But basically, here’s the 3 steps:

What: Add a keyframe by moving the slider. This will be the starting point of your sequence.

When: Progress a certain number of frames.

Where: Move the slider to the desired location. A keyframe will be added automatically.

If you get messed up, CTRL+Z is your friend.

Remember to press record before you start to move your mesh around.

I also have problems with the Shapes Keys

Like most things involving computers, “there’s more than one way to do it.” You can work directly with IPOs (“keyframing”), or you can morph the character from one complete shape to another (“shape keys”), or you can express the animation in terms of a series of “actions” which are blended together … probably the best way to deal with facial animation when you want your leading-man to be doing a “casual wink and half-smile” come-on to the leading-lady sitting next to him at the Stop-Bits Saloon, and you wish to express the action in terms of “a smile” overlapping subtly with “a wink” subtly overlapping with a slight toss of the head … all of which are “actions.” (The overall technique is called Non-Linear Animation, or NLA.)

Obviously, from the computer’s perspective, “it all eventually boils down to IPO curves,” as pretty much everything time-related in Blender does. The difference is in how you carry out your work flow.

From the Wiki manual at http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Doc:Manual/Animation/Editors/NLA:So, NLA is another level of abstraction above IPO curves and actions. You might ask yourself “why do I need NLA when I can create every animation I need with just IPO curves?” Well, it’s a question of efficiency and – oddly – simplicity. For small, limited animations, you do can use only IPO curves, and have no need of the additional complexity provided by the actions and NLA. However, when you begin to work on more advanced and complex animations, you’ll quickly find out that most of these are, as said above, decomposable in small pieces, that are then used several times.