Import modified mesh as shape key

hey guys,

does anyone know if it is possible to export a rigged and posed mesh to another program, modify it (keeping the vertex order the same) and then import the mesh again, apply it as a shape and continue posing?
lets say i’ve got a posed bodybuilder character, export it to zbrush to make him a slim guy, import back to blender and now want to apply this modifications as a shape to further pose him.

cheers christian

You can add imported objects as shapekeys if they have the same vertex order

Just tested with Blender -> Zbrush -> Blender using a simple rigged object. The important thing is how you maintain the vertex orders. Exporting from ZBrush as .obj did not appear to maintain the order
Exported as .obj into Zbrush (enabled Keep Vertex Order in export settings)
Moved some vertices in ZBrush
Exported from ZBrush as a 2014 binary .fbx file
Imported this into blender (disabled 'use Pre/Post Rotation option)
For the imported .fbx object apply its scale and set its scale to 1
Then joined this object as a shapekey (option in shapekey panel)

You could try this:
Join as Shapes
Transfer the ‘Current Shape’ from a different object. Select two objects, the Shape is copied to the active object.

So just select both meshes and do join as shapes. The mesh you selected last will get the new shape.

hey guys,

first off thanks for the quick reply!

yes, i tried “join as shapes” and it does everything correct but only on the not posed parts.
i moved the left arm up a bit, exported it to zbrush and altered the eye position.
now if i import back and join as shapes everything is as expected except for the posed left arm which goes crazy
i think this is because blender expects me to export the mesh in the base pose and then import it back with the changes … but i need a way to be able to do those adjustments on a posed character and still be able to apply those changes to the rigged mesh


Clear the poses before exporting so you are working on the ‘base’ mesh. The more things you add to the mix the more likely you’re going to get the results you don’t want.

If you want to keep the pose then just add it to the pose library and apply it again after you re-import.

Alternatively edit your object in blender itself

by clearing the pose you mean selecting the bones and do alt-r, alt-s & alt-g?

is there a solution for this meanwhile? :slight_smile:

hello i am not sure what is the problem you have but, afaik for transferring a modified base mesh to other base mesh, you have to simply:
duplicate your base mesh, clean all (remove) all the shapes keys of the duplicate, and modifiers, vertex groups (but not necesary) and then export the file and edit your model in other software like zbrush, or instead in blender directly, and then add there what you desire to have for the shape key, and the export that file (if you are not using blender) and import it in blender, and then in object mode right click to select the source mesh (modifier mesh) and then shift+right click the target mesh (base mesh to transfer the shape key) and then go to the shape keys panel, and click the button and select the “join as shapes” option and you should be done…