Creative Futures

A Guide to Blend Shape Research

As part of my role as management, it was my responsibility to try and fix issues that the team’s additional animators – Charlie Maxwell and Anna McCairth – discovered. Unfortunately, a somewhat major issue was discovered days before the deadline, and that was that the blend shapes that had been created for the boy had completely disappeared from the model.

The character rigger, Scott, was unable to provide much help, as he was immersed within his own team’s workload. Therefore, the task of correcting the issue and creating new expressions lead me to explore a part of three-dimensional modelling that I had yet to experience, blend shapes. I talk about my process and experience in this post.

How to Set Up Blendshapes on Your Character by Sean Hewitt 

Tutorial: Blend Shape Overview in Maya by Jason Baskin 

How to Make Blendshapes of Face Part in Maya by Maya Tutorials 

Blendshapes in Maya by Sean Spitzer 

Shown above are the tutorials that I reviewed prior to starting the creation of the blend shapes for the boy character. From the material that I watched, the tutorials from Sean Spitzer and Maya Tutorials were particularly useful.

I felt that the other two tutorials contained too much information and complex mass of information that was hard to retain. Thus, leading to confusion when I tried to follow their workflow methodology. The unnecessary fuss was frustrating and had left me feeling that I would be incapable of achieving this task.

The tutorials that I have praised above, on the other hand, were very straight to the point with their approach, and following their techniques was very easy. Sean Spitzer demonstrates how to achieve blend shapes in the easiest form, but provides further information about other methods such as weight painting that can also achieve some fantastic expressions.

The tutorials have really helped improve my technical understanding of the process of blend shape creation. The task of producing some expressions for the boy felt less daunting when I was able to locate an efficient source of research that explains the approach in a clear and concise way. Whilst the tutorials did not cover some of the issues that I had experienced during my attempt (such as origin geometry detaching from the mesh), they were still a vital aid that informed me how to achieve my desired results, and within a very short time frame. I feel that without the benefit of the tutorials, I would have been overwhelmed with the technical process. After conducting the research, my approach was well informed, and as a result, it only took three attempts before I was able to create expressions that the entire team were content with.


Reference:

Baskin, J. (2014). Tutorial: Blend Shape Overview in Maya. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmCy02S2Vh0 [Accessed 12 Dec. 2016].

Hewitt, S. (2013). How to Set Up Blendshapes on Your Character. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnAvQFKxGZw [Accessed 13 Dec. 2016].

Maya Tutorials, (2014). How to Make Blendshape of Face Part in Maya. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDJbDKHPfX4 [Accessed 13 Dec. 2016].

Spitzer, S. (2013). Blendshapes in Maya. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eb_8f8umnNw&t=316s [Accessed 13 Dec. 2016].

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