facial animation setup?


Hmm… im thinking now why i kinda stopped doing research in my muscle stuff, I think the reason was because of surface contact i.e keeping form, but maybe this might help. More notes…


Yeah! I like the results you have from your capture system.The curves you have attached the nulls to, that you refer to are nurbs curves are they? Someone posted a rig a while ago that was nulls (or points in Max) driven along splines, that followed the line of the muscles, and/or the curve of the face, is that similar to what you have done here?

Can you tell us a bit about the capture system that you made. Is it a method we can use.


That was me!

The part I like about this system is not really the morph side, but just hit detection over a surface like a jaw/brow for example. Using curves or the math of curves for muscles is relatively easy, with support for sliding just comes in for free. The problem I had was that you could essentially crush the face in on itself - especially the mouth if you were not careful.

The capture system i dont think is a pure capture unless your doing image tracking or something. I was thinking about writting one in max - and it wouldnt be too hard. Just trace a bitmap till it hits a specific color and drive a point, which inturn drives a control.


The capture system i dont think is a pure capture unless your doing image tracking or something.
No it doesn’t automatically track the image. Its pretty straightforward to make it do that in XSI, but linking the nulls X and Y to the output of the tracker markers in the built in compositor. I have done this before and it works fine, but I’m not going to do it here until the rig is final.

Can you tell us a bit about the capture system that you made. Is it a method we can use.

The facial ‘capture’ system is technically pretty easy to build, it just requires some careful thought about whats going on with the face. I only invented it last week so it’s still in its infancy, I have made a few tests, each one far superior to the last but once I have perfected it I may well make a tutorial.
I also have a version that can animate, quite convincingly, the angle of the head based on the footage but I didn’t add it to this version, as his head and body is animated using a mo-cap / keying combo.


Nice, I’m wondering what speech will be like with it. Will it sync up with an audio track in a clip similar to the one you have already shared.

It would be extremely cool to watch your progress, that would be a whole new tutorial experience for many, watching your idea evolve into whatever its going to become.

At the risk of asking for more than you are comfortable sharing, please show us more.


Nice, I’m wondering what speech will be like with it. Will it sync up with an audio track in a clip similar to the one you have already shared.

I hope so, although I’m not going to use the raw capture, In this version It’s really just going to be a tool for blocking out and I’ll refine it with keyframing.


Some interesting tech - i think were all trying to aim for the same sort of setup…



The skinning(painting weights), I’ve been thinking for long time, how inconvenient they are; if the rig allows enough control it would be much better to not depend on vertex weights.
Then it all is a matter of adapting the same rig to another character and applying the relative differences(including envelopes).

Another thing I ask myself is how expensive would be to use some kind of collision detection for skin sliding ? because, realistic faces are the most difficult to make, contrary to toon characters.
A big challenge, is to try a dense and realistic mesh with a rig or any other technological system, it will easily reveal whats wrong, and how far we are.



Does anyone have a tutorial or some input how to go about facial rigging not using morph targets.
I have currently created a rig using max bones with Ik Limp solvers and dummys constrained to the IK handle. The Dummys are the bones wich will be exorted into our game engine.

I have also setup custome attributes wich contolls the spline IK posistion.

My current problem is wiring multiple attibutes to one attibute.

Not sure what the expression is.
For example: I would like to setup one slider that controlls the mouth from
smile to close to sad.

Any help would be awseome


I just wanted to say that I’ve read a large part of this thread, and it has helped me a lot in starting to rig my first face. I followed the way Pooby made his rig and I have to say it’s FUN. I’ve only done the eyebrows so far, just to see how it works, but I can create CRAZY shapes super fast with it. This is the first real facial rig I’ve made, so I can’t compare it to others, and I’m not even sure if it’s exactly how Pooby made his, but it works really well. Did I mention that it’s fun? I just spent the last 2 hours playing with eyebrows :love::smiley:


hi guys, i am wondering if anyone out there knows any good books or online tutorials for getting a face rig setup where u have a set of spline boxes representing the face next to the character and then by manipulating sliders and the like u can produce a whole range of expressions? GUI setup i think its called. It seems to be a fairly standard way of rigging a face to get some nice results but i cant for the life of me find any decent tutorial material on it. Really desperate to learn how to do it though. As far as i know it works off clusters i think. Anythin for the main 3 (XSI/Maya/Max) wud be cool. thanks


Tyson Ibele has a basic GUI setup tutorial on his site.



Thanks ErikE thats pretty good for startin with :slight_smile:


Does anyone have or remember a way to mirror clusters for a face rig? I’m sorry if this question has allready been answered. I’m using the dwSaveClusters.mel, wich was not built for mirroring clusters and its quite a pain in the but.


Here is another link for 3dsMax oriented tutorial.

[/b]Need to register first (Free~) to download tutorials.
Go to ‘Rigging’ section for check out what you may be interested in.


Thanks rybeck. Thats a pretty awesome website, never heard of it though till now.


eek… could you make entire vid tut about this face rig thing… you were expert in creating this type of face rig system… But some of steps could’nt be followed as an newbie for this type of system. I am using 3dsmax…


Yes please as mohanohi said
I tried morphs and bones but I like your idea better .
Did you trysome sort of mesh collison (as in skinfx) ?
Did you see “Facemachine” for maya ?


Have a look at this 3dsmax video by Loius Marcoux, on how to build a muscle. If you follow this tutorial to the end, you will end up with a stretchy bone that can be used as a facial muscle.
If you leave out the modelling of the muscle then you will have a stetchy bone suitable for skinning to a rig.


Then you need to create enough of these for a face, and to link them together as a rig with controls.

Enrico Gullotti’s 3dsmax2009 script which will do this for you and a page briefly showing you how and why it is done, can be found here.


The 3dsmax2009 script can be downloaded for free from Enrico Gullotti’s site.

When you download the script and run it, there is a discussion on that here if you need help.


 Illusion Catalyst's scripts/plugins are awesome. I haven't used them yet, but I've been reading about them a bit, and wow, who develops stuff like that for free anymore? Kudos Enrico Gullotti, thank you. 
  Ego-Farms is a small forum for 3D Studio Max users created by Eric Maslowski. (All other modeling software users are welcome as well, as many principles are platform independent) Eric has created hours of free video tutorials too as Rybeck pointed out. We have started a thread there collecting facial rigging resources and tutorials for 3DS. It's about the 4th post down. Check it out here :