Inspired 3D: Constructing the Inspired Character — Part 3
Continuing our excerpts from the Inspired 3D series, Tom Capizzi presents an in-depth character construction tutorial.
By Tom Capizzi
All images from Inspired 3D Modeling and Texture Mapping by Tom Capizzi, series edited by Kyle Clark and Michael Ford. Reprinted with permission.

This excerpt is the next in a number of adaptations from the new Inspired 3D series published by Premier Press. Comprised of four titles and edited by Kyle Clark and Michael Ford, these books are designed to provide animators and curious moviegoers with tips and tricks from Hollywood veterans. The following is excerpted from Modeling & Texture Mapping.

Facial Animation and Blend Shapes
In the production of an animated character, the character can have the face animated in two basic ways. One way is to have animation setup control the face using various setup techniques. This requires expertise on the part of the setup technical directors. In a large production facility, the efficiency of scale can make difficult jobs like this commonplace. Many characters have already been set up that can be taken apart and reused. In a small production, the process of creating facial controls can be time consuming. This is especially true because no other similar characters can have their controls “recycled” for the new character.

On this production, despite my best efforts to avoid this, the production decided early on that the facial animation would be controlled using blend shapes. Blend shapes are 3D morph targets that have the exact topology as the face they are controlling.

Full Face Shapes vs. Local Face Shapes
In the creation of face shapes for an animated character, there are two basic schools of thought regarding the way the face should be animated using blend shapes. One method is to use the entire face as a specific target. If the character is going to frown, then the entire face is sculpted into a frown shape. The eyebrows are sculpted into a furrowed appearance, and the entire mouth is sculpted into a real scowl.

[Figures 36-41] Blend shapes that affected larger, less localized areas of the face.

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