Bone/Blendshape combination Setup


I’m just posting this up to get some input from some TD’sd on this idea.

I’ve been playing with how to achieve the affect of having a bone based control system follow along with the blendshapes. I have not found any specefic answers, but after a few months of studying the problem on and off and trying different things this is what i came up with.

I have 3 main heads.

Bind head.

Bone follow head, which is in the same world space as the bind head.

Blender head. This head acts as a bridge between all my facial target blendshapes and the bonefollow head.

The bone follow hear has follicles on it that allow the control system to follow the blendshaped displaced verts. This bone folow head than drives a parralel type blendshape with the main head and the bones are added to influence the main head as well.

I was curious if any TD’s had a method of setting this up that was different or if the way I figured out through tinkering around was acceptable.


there is a video from a course in digital tutors about rigging the face in maya 2011 which also uses follicles to make sticky controls.i also thought this was the key to this kind of blend between systems.i also needed it for my bachelor’s but in the end i’m doing two different characters each for each system.


Why’s that? did you find a problem with this method that pops up in production?


more like a problem popped up in production that made me leave this…i’m working to fix this so that i might try it.i had the face and body geometry combined and merged together and fully rigged it so afterwards the blendshapes were for the whole body and it would be taxing and pointless.I also don’t know if this can work for joints too.i’m not sure if this will work in the case where you change the grimace through a blendshape and you need the appropriate joints to follow.if for example you have a blendshape that has a raised brow and you have used joints to rig the brow instead of curves tha brow joint will follow the blendshape change.


OK I gotya, interesting… I’ll look into it. Yeah I try to have my head separate from teh rest of the mesh sicne I usually have 30+ blendshapes in a character acting rig. I try to model it so that there’s a seams such as a collar or scarf or something that let’s me break off the head and clavicle area.

Sometimes it’s not really doable I agree. Thanks for the input.


i’m a total newbie in the area but i’ve been doing this bachelor thesis for 3-4 months now and at first the whole geometry was in pieces…even the body was cut in pieces so when i got to skinning i understood that these must be combined.but as a newbie i didn’t take into consideration that i’ll need blendshapes and that i can’t just copy vertices or sth as simple as that.hence my predicament.

from what i’ve seen though it’s a must to have body in one mesh and neck and face in least it’s more solid like that.and since there are blendshapes and there are many techniques using blendshapes it’s better to have it that way.


Actually I prefer the game method

each of these are separate meshes:

Hair mesh/hair scalp for dynamic hair.

Head and neck


L arm and hand with fingers ending with a round extrusion that connects the pectorals to the arm.

R arm and hand with fingers ending with a round extrusion that connects the pectorals to the arm.

L leg and foot.

R leg and foot.

any miscellaneous armor or clothing extra’s.

This seems to work the best for me. If you look at the free animation rigs out there, many artists do the same method as well to allow for better customization. It also allows you to create separate corrective blendshapes for each piece if you need to for instance bulge the bicep or correct the elbow pinching.


this is new to me,afterall i’m very new in the field…how is it with skinning on the connecting spots…the reason i had to use the needle and thread was that during skinning i always got crevaces(the edges got pulled towards opposite directions creating an opening).thinking about this a bit the only places that might be a pain are the shoulders…apart from that this is very good.i gather you bind each limb with selected joints right?


You have a single bone weighting the verts that line up on the shoulders and torso on a value of 1.

For excample I have the last ring of verts on my shoulder mesh weighted add with a value of 1 to the clavicle bone. I have the last ring of verts on the torso hole also weighted to the clavicle bone with a value of 1. This keeps them glued together.


it has to be a bit low poly in order for the geometry not to be streched too much.otherwise you need to make a distribution of 1 to 0 in the border verts so that the stretching appears natural.unless the extreme transform those verts can be subjected to is so minute that no stretching is apparent.


You can disconnect the head and create a separate rig for that with blendshapes and bones. Then use the rigged head as a wrap deformer to deform the head that’s attached to the body. If it slows the rig down swap the deformation order.

I would look into Jason Osipa’s Stop Staring. It’s a great resource for facial rigging. In one of the last chapters he talks about secondary controls on top of blendshapes.

Good luck.


hey can i use the follicle to attach a control to the skin when that control deforms the skin?

i’m supposed to make some feature points to the character mesh.basically controls that control the deformation of the skin.i.e. a control in the navel that can make the dude have a fat belly.or another at cheekbones to make them distinguished or very subtle.

EDIT1:found a way.i use locators as mediators to be driven by joints and to drive a grouped feature point(a geometry control that acts as an influence object to the mesh) and as a result a feature point which has altered the geometry of the character now follows the joint’s movements. So if i’ve made the guy look fat the fatness remains when using a hip sway control. :smiley:


there are basically 2 method for blending BS and bones:

  1. main deformation driven by the bones and corrective blendshape for fixing some deformation problem or adding detail and so .

  2. there is the osipa stile where main deformation is driven by all blendshape and then the uses bones for secondary motion like the lips and so on


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