Creating a blend shape

In this section, you create a blend shape deformer to control the smile on baseFace (base object) using the smilingFace (target object). A blend shape deformer is ideal for facial animation, where you need a number of facial positions to be readily available for use in an animation sequence. With a blend shape deformer, you can set up a character’s face to blend between a smile, frown, smirk, and so on.

In the next steps, you create a blend shape deformer to change the baseFace into the smile of smilingFace.

To create a blend shape deformer

  1. In the Outliner, select smilingFace and Shift-select baseFace, specifically in this order.

    The smilingFace (the first selection) is called the target object, while baseFace (the second selection) is called the base object. The objective of a blend shape operation is to morph the base shape into the target shape.

  2. Select Create Deformers > Blend Shape > .
  3. In the Blend Shape node text box, type blendShape, then click Create.
  4. Select Window > Animation Editors > Blend Shape. This displays the Blend Shape editor, which has a slider for changing the base into the target shape, and buttons for setting keys.
  5. Cancel the selection of the faces so you can see the surfaces without the obscuring highlighted wireframe.
  6. Drag the slider from 0 to 1 to morph the baseFace into the target, smilingFace.

    Note that you can click the Key button below the slider to set an animation key for the shape of the face at the current frame. By setting a few keys with different slider values at different points in the timeline, you can animate from the neutral expression to a full or partial smile or vice versa.

    When you key the shape, Maya applies the key to the blendShape node that was created when you selected Create Deformers > Blend Shape > . If you need to select the blendShape node, for instance, so you can see or delete the keys in the Time Slider, click the Select button in the Blend Shape editor.