Shape keys don't move mesh

I’m sure I’m overlooking something fairly obvious. I’ve created a simple bird mesh, added a shape key, but when I scrape the timeline, nothing moves.

Bird with the wings in the up position

Same bird with wings down (slider at -1.00)
The blend file is available if anyone wants to take a closer look, and maybe figure out what’s missing. I’m stumped.

Well, first, you’re using a lattice, not a shape key … but that doesn’t matter :slight_smile:

I don’t know why, but if you just select something else other than the lattice, it will work, … you can even go back and select the lattice again and it will still keep working.


My earlier attempts were with a lattice. This one, though, I just selected the bird object, added a basis key in the edit buttons shapes panel, then added a “wings up” shape key by moving the mesh in edit mode. I just took a look at the simple bird.blend outliner, and there’s nothing there but the lamp, camera, empty (camera target) and cube. Is there someplace else I can look to see what’s up with the file?

I tried selecting the lamp and the empty, but the poor bird still didn’t move.

Anyway, according to what I’ve read, lattice deform animations are supposed to work just like shape keys, I think. (In a way, that’s my experience, since I haven’t got either of them to animate the bloody bird! :mad: )

It’s working now. It was obvious. I hate it when that happens.
Anyway, the bird didn’t have an armature. I added an armature consisting of one bone, added an armature modifier to the object, and the keys all work fine now.

Mind you, nothing is attached to the armature bone. No envelopes or vertex groups. In fact, I turned them both off, since I’m not planning on using either one. But I guess, deep down inside the mysterious bowels of the blender database, that bone provides the link between the keys and the mesh.

Is this a bug? I’d think modifying a mesh with a lattice should set up a similar link, if the lattice is used to set up keys.

That’s the file you uploaded. There were no shape keys in it

An armature is not neccessary for shape keys to work. (usually :slight_smile: )

Something else must be going on with that file…

What version of Blender are you using ? “Standard” 2.42a ?


Oops. :o . That was the blend1. Ok, I’ve got the blend posted now. But this is the one with the armature added, and it works. Before I just had the bird with no armature, and no armature modifier, and it did not animate.

Yeah, it’s standard 2.42a Blender. I don’t think armatures ought to be necessary. I set up a lattice, parented the mesh to the lattice made it deformable, and set the lattice basis key. I’d think that would be enough.

I think I’ve got a non-flying dragon around somewhere, with a lattice deform also. I’ll see if I can get him to fly with the select another object manueuver.

It’s because you’ve saved the shape key as an Action then added a strip to the NLA. If you delete the Action (X in the Action Window) it plays.

I’ve never really come to grips with Shapes as Actions. It makes sense to use them this way, for repeatability and sync, but there’s something not quite right with the implementation (maybe the NLA needs to see an armature before it’ll behave?). I recall going through something similar with bugman almost a year ago (it seems) so I’ll see if I can find that discussion and see if we found a solution.

Hmm interesting. Yet another area … in just the “animation section” of the program that I haven’t played with much … “action-shapes” :slight_smile:

Andy, did you look at the file in the first post? Weird behavior there, the lattice animation doesn’t play until another object is selected. :confused:


I did d/l it but when I saw it had no shape keys I ignored it and read the rest of the thread :slight_smile:

The problem also seems to be related to the way the lattice keys have been used. In the Action Window theres and Entry called “Shape” which holds the keys but has no slider. I actually don’t know what this is :confused: It doesn’t appear in the NLA, IPO or Outliner windows (that I can see).

However, if you open the sliders and just click on the top one “Flap Down/Up” the animation unlocks.

Thanks for your replies and your interest in this problem. AndyD, I read the thread between you and Bugman, it was last january, and it seemed inconclusive regarding this behavior, at least as far as I could tell.

I found my non-functional dragon.blend and got him to flap his wings by deleting the lattice, adding an armature with one bone, adding an armature modifier to the dragon object, then making a shape key for basis and wings up/down. I re-read Ryan’s BSoD Intro to Charactrer Animation where he talks about adding shape keys as NLA strips (it is not straightforward or intuitive) and got the strip working.

I made a twelve second animation of the dragon flying over a lake. Since the only action was flapping the wings up and down, it needs a lot of work. I hope to have something postable later this weekend.