How would you animate a shapeshifter?

And I don’t mean a sort of human-character-to-human-character shapeshifter. I’m talking a pile-of-sludge-to-human kind of shapeshifter.

It feels like this would be impossible, unless you really tried to keep the human’s geometry in the pile of sludge, but I’d have to guess that if it is possible it’s just some random setting or addon that I haven’t heard of yet.

You could do it with the mesh fairing addon -

Just add a couple of inbetween corrective shape keys to your rig, sounds doable.

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You might try physics. Say a cloth or fluid and use your character or better a low poly proxy you can copy and think of it as a reverse process. Run the cloth or fluid from a character to a puddle. Bake it and then put it in the NLA and reverse it. The puddle then becomes the character. If you get stuck post in the particle and physics simulations category. You can google things like a ice cube melting or text melting to get some ideas as well.

It might be hard to turn a pile of sludge into a human, but it’s easy enough to turn a human into a pile of sludge. I think sludge would be the easiest shapeshift.

Piles of sludge aren’t really vulnerable to topology issues, unless they’re piles of shiny sludge, but you can retopo in sludge form, use a surface deform to copy the the transformation back to human, and then use that retopo as a the target of a data transfer for normals, driven by shapekey values.

I’d probably animate via two different armatures, one intended for human form and one intended for sludge form (not sure exactly how you want to animate sludge, armatures might not be the best technique depending on what you want to do). But you can make “movable bones” by splitting into control bones and deform bones and giving the deforms an inverse copy local location from the controls-- gives you a bone that, when you move it, it doesn’t move the mesh, but instead only moves the center of rotation, good for models with shapekeys that change their whole body.


I haven’t got much expertise here, but there’s always good ol’ fashioned shape keys.