Displacement maps for facial expressions

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  06 June 2013
Question Displacement maps for facial expressions

Hello all,

I am using Maya and I would like to create facial expressions via displacement maps on a dog character I made. When I look at sample images, it looks like this is possible, consider these two images:

If you look at the cup on the left by Christine it is amazing that Maya can do that, my only question is how?

Here is a sample image of what I did with a poly sphere:

I basically took a map and used a negate node to inverse the displacement, then I used a multiply node to increase the depth of the displacement. Here is the map I used

I have tried everything to get this to be a smooth inverted bump in the sphere, but no matter what settings I toggle (tessellation, displacement, smooth mesh, etc.) my results get no better than what you've seen above.

This is what I really want to do, I want my dog character to open and close his mouth via textures, and have displacement maps make the mouth look more realistic.

Here is my dog:

And here is what I've been able to do with displacement maps (I accidently deleted the body so, ignore that. Also, I know the mouth area color is off, I can fix that later. Please just focus on the displacement, thanks)

Please help me get a better looking mouth. I have many different versions I'd like to use (some open wider, some narrow, etc.) I think I've done all I can think of and still my results aren't good.

What am I doing wrong? Thoughts?

Thanks for reading this LONG message, thanks for any help.

- Scott
  06 June 2013
Here are two more images of the dog without displacement:

  06 June 2013
You shouldn't use displacement for animation, that's not really what it's designed for.
  06 June 2013
Originally Posted by leigh: You shouldn't use displacement for animation, that's not really what it's designed for.

I have to disagree with you there. Consider this animation:


I don't know how to embed youtube videos, but please watch the video above.

That animation was done with displacement maps and normal maps. If they can create that smooth of an effect, where a simple plane flows like silk, then there's no problem in what I'm trying to do.

- Scott
  06 June 2013
I think what leigh was meaning is that displacement is generally not (well pretty much never) used for things that would be normally concidered "character" animation. for example as the sole method to open/close a mouth as you intend.

Basically it would be alot eaiser/faster/cleaner to just do a basic rig or blend shape to do what you are trying to do.

Sometimes animated displacement or normal maps are used to enhance animated deformations for character faces. This is a pretty complex process but can give good results on things like adding wrinkles when eyes squint or dimples depending on a mouths shapes.
  06 June 2013
Yeah, anything where a rig is generally used isn't really something you should be trying to do with displacement. Something like the example you've linked to works okay because it's just a ripple effect that can be done (and probably was done) procedurally. A face, on the other hand, should be properly weighted and rigged, or done with a blendshape as Cyberone suggested (which might be the easiest option for you, actually).

Unfortunately I don't really know anything about rigging and whatnot as it's not my field, but you should be able to find plenty of basic beginner tutorials on the subject to get you started.
  06 June 2013
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