How to animate a cartoon-style talking mouth?

I think that what I’d like to achieve is a true cartoon-style (as in, “drawn on the surface of a sphere”) mouth for my stick-figure. But, I’d like to be able to do it with animation-style controls … hooks and so-forth … if I can.

This little show is probably going to use a Toon shader, because I want it to look very much like “a cartoon, only visibly 3D.” So, what I’m talking about is a look like the mouth, eyes, and so-on actually were drawn on the surface of the spherical head … but they move, smile, look this way and that, and so on.

I’m toying with various ideas but not really coming up with anything. What I’d basically like to be able to do here, conceptually speaking, is to somehow animate what’s happening on a flat plane, then to project that plane onto the spherical head. (Shrinkwrap comes to mind.) I don’t want the character to look bug-eyed.

I’m planning for it to be a six-second animation, and a parody, and to look the part. Ideas?

Not long ago someone asked same question. And, here is the link to tutorialthat solve there problem.

Well, just to “circle the wagons” on this thread for the benefit of Gentle Readers to come … it sure didn’t take me too long to figure out that I was barkin’ up the wrong tree on this one. The right way to do this was as follows:

  • Define the Mouth as a 2D Bezier Circle, with a black material, parented to the head. Do not define a Bevel. Do not specify 3D. This will give you a solid, filled circle. The mouth will always be this one object, always visible.
  • Use the ShrinkWrap modifier, applied to the mouth-curve and targeted at the head-shape, to cause the (necessarily 2D …) curve to be applied to the head. Adjust offsets in very-small amounts as needed. Also tweak curve “Bevel,” but do not define a “BevObj.” This will give you a “cartoon-like” solid-filled shape that clings appropriately to the head even though it is 2D (as it must be, in order to be filled).
  • Now, after sizing and positioning the mouth, start defining shape keys. The first, untouched, is the Basis, and you simply add other ones for each expression.
  • Switch to the Action Editor and all of the shape keys are listed there, with differing influences (all initially zero). Simply define new actions, one for each expression, dialing-in the shapes as needed.
  • These actions can now be referenced in the NLA Editor, or elsewhere, as needed. (Basically, from here on out it’s just a regular “facial expressions rigging” exercise. For example, you might need to define Drivers that are linked to control-bones in the armature, etcetera.) Blah, blah, blah, you’re on should-be familiar territory now.

Don’t forget to give each action a “Fake User” if you’re using this file as a library.