Morphing meshes that come from reconstructed serial sections


we just started to work out a way to use blender for research purposes in our institute (for example to visualize 3D-reconstructions of very tiny hexapods). Blender offers the great opportunity for researchers around the world to use this wonderful program for free. We established a way to completely use opensource programs from reconstruction to rendering.

I’m working on meshes that were produced by reconstructing structures from several sections through the head of a springtail. Since I didn’t exactly model but created them with another program from sectional cuts, they are quite unclean. They’re always non-manifold and have an uncontrolled number of vertices. So far so good, no problem with rendering in blender (to which the meshes where imported as *.wrl - files).

But the next task is to morph one mesh to another (both reconstructed from serial sections for embryological research).

I know how to do that via shapekeys with modeled meshes where I was in charge of setting the number and position of vertices, but the reconstructed meshes are not like this (see picture below).

This picture of a mandible is by far not the most chaotic mesh I have :).

Since there are many spikes or hollow intuckings in these meshes, producing a shrinkwrapped mesh as a schapekey to the first (original) mesh that is to be morphed, produces a very unsatisfactory result. I would have to sit hours on each structure (and there are about 150 - 200 per head and embryologic stage).

Matching the number of vertices is easier but the morphing result via a shapekey is even worse:

The left (marked) structure is the morphed original structure und should resemble the right one. But it does not really.

So here are the two questions I have (depending on which problem might be easier to solve):

  1. Is there a way to morph completely different looking structures without having the problem of spiky and ugly outcome-meshes?

  2. Is there a way to apply a shrinkwrap modifier to a mesh with cusps and cavities?

Thank you a lot for reading and you would really be a great helb for us if you had a hint!

Thanks thanks thanks, Peter

PS: Here is a little image, so you know what this is all about: