Mesh animation

Is there any way to animate a mesh without using bones and an armature? I’ve tried using the “Mesh” frame key, but it didn’t do anything.

Try ‘shapekeys’ (maybe in ‘absolute’ mode) and arrange them in the action editor to have multiple deformations form an action. But i think, that´s much more work than deforming through Bones, because you have to know what you want your figure to do in future and create these movements at the beginning…


I know what I want, it’s a structure buildup animation to-be, but how do I work with shapekeys?

Create your structure (try with a basic cube, build a basic house) and then press F9, click Modifier select “Build” finally press Alt+A and you will see your house being built…
Hope thats what you want to achieve…

It’s too crude, it generates the animation polygon by polygon, besides I made 10 subdivisions and it still looks crude. And bones instead of just extruding make a slope on the side, and a hole beneath when I try to raise a part.


I know what I want, it’s a structure buildup animation to-be, but how do I work with shapekeys?

That’s a bit vague and how you do it will depend on what “structure buildup” really means. If you use ShapeKeys:
then you’ll have to build your structure and add ShapeKeys to each phase of the “buildup”. Because Shapes need to have all the geometry already built (you can’t add verts/edges/faces, you need the complete structure) it would probably be easiest to start with the full, ‘expanded’ version of the model and then animate it to the ‘collapsed’ state. Reversing that is easy by just keyframing the ShapeSliders to go from 1 to 0.

Another way is to build the structure (let’s say a house) using seperate Objects:- floor, walls, windows, roof etc. Then put them all on a hidden Layer (one the Camera can’t see) and Keyframe them to appear on the visible Layer at different frames (I-Key in 3D window and choose Layer after moving frames and layers). You could also do this with seperate models in various stages of completion; model1 is of the floor, model2 is floor and walls, model3 is floor, walls and windows and model1 is moved to a hidden layer at the same frame that model2 moves to the visible layer.

The Build Modifier looks much better if you hit X-Sort in MeshTools tab in F9 in Edit mode and can still be used to “build” (say) the roof from left to right once it is moved to the visible layer and the Start and Length frames are set to coincide with the arrival of the roof on the visible layer and the arrival of the next structural component respectively.

Other “structural” evolutions (like plants) can be done with Lattice or Curve using Shapes on the Deforming Modifier.