Creating Facial Expressions with Morph Targets

Full-body motion is one thing, but creating facial animation is another bag of worms altogether. Facial animations are created by making several morph targets of the various expressions and blending between them to create the animated effect.

You can create morph targets in 3ds Max using the Morpher modifier. It's best to select the object that you want to morph, such as the head, and make several copies of it. Then select each copy of the head and deform the mesh to create a new expression. You can select each of these new expressions and save them in different channels (see Figure 8.11). Then you can create a whole new repertoire of expressions by combining different percentages of each morph target.

Figure 8.10

Even when biped footsteps are in place, you can revisit the character and change his positions.

Figure 8.10

Even when biped footsteps are in place, you can revisit the character and change his positions.

Figure 8.11

You can use morph targets to create different facial expressions. Then you can combine these expressions to create new looks.

Figure 8.11

You can use morph targets to create different facial expressions. Then you can combine these expressions to create new looks.

1. Select and open the Max file with the textured Hicks character. Then select and delete all body parts except for the head object.

2. Select and drag the head object with the Shift key held down to create two more cloned copies of the head object (see Figure 8.12).

3. Use the mesh deformation tools to alter the expression of the face for the first cloned object to have a slight smile. You can accomplish this easily by selecting the vertices at the edge of the mouth and moving them upward (see Figure 8.13). Be careful as you move the vertices, because extreme repositioning throws off your mapped textures.

4. Use the mesh deformation tools to alter the expression of the face for the second cloned object to have a shouting expression. You can do this by selecting the vertices at the top and bottom edges of the mouth and moving them upward and downward (see Figure 8.14).

5. Select the original head object, and apply the Morpher modifier to it. Click on the first empty channel button, click the Pick Object from Scene button, and then select the smile expression. The name of this object is added to the channel button. Repeat for the shout expression. For each expression, type a name that describes the expression, such as "smile" or "shout."

6. With the original head selected, click on the Auto Key button, and drag the time slider to frame 10. Then drag the smile channel value to 100. After that, drag the time slider to frame 20, and change the smile channel value to 0 and the shout channel value to 100. This causes the face to morph over 20 frames between the various expressions (see Figure 8.15).

7. Save the Max file to be imported into the game engine.

Figure 8.12

Cloned copies of the head let you create morph targets for different expressions.

Figure 8.12

Cloned copies of the head let you create morph targets for different expressions.

Figure 8.13

The first cloned face is deformed into a smile expression.

Figure 8.13

The first cloned face is deformed into a smile expression.

Figure 8.14

The second cloned face is deformed into a shouting expression.

Figure 8.14

The second cloned face is deformed into a shouting expression.

Figure 8.15

Using morph targets, you can set the face to morph between several different expressions.

F it Active

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F it Active

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Figure 8.15

Using morph targets, you can set the face to morph between several different expressions.

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