Project 2 Animation Studio :Dialogue, action and interaction. Skin weights and Blendshapes and Feedback.

From the moment I exported the characters to Maya, I was afraid of this step. Simply because I was not sure if I had managed to sculpt it correctly in Zbrush, managed to come to the right amount of topology in Zbrush in order to give him facial expressions which would work.  The last thing I wanted to do was go back into the topology and manually pull and push to a workable edge flow.

The information that I used for the topology comes from a book that I was allowed to borrow from my course leader named “ZBrush Character Creation: Advanced Digital Sculpting“, Zbrush classroom and the Zbrush 10 week course that my university provided.

There wasn’t much difficulty with the skin weights as the rig was fairly simple and each joint was layed out perfectly to be assigned to the skin near it. For this part, however, I was following guidelines from a course outside of course hours for the Zbrush class.  The main part that was somewhat difficult to set weights to would be the armpits. I had 2 joints pretty close to one another which would either disrupt the skin when the arm was lowered completely (In a rested state) Or it would disrupt the skin when it was in an up-in-the-air state.


There is only so much bending and rotating I can do in order to set up the skin weights and it was suggested that I would make small animations which would show several limbs in action to see if the weights were set up correctly and were passable or if I have to go back into Maya and adjust the weights some more.   So far so good, the tests will be posted in the blog for future reference.


This part was anticipated the most.  With our previous 3d project, I didn’t go through with the butler idea because I wasn’t happy with the outcome of Sebastian.  The edge flow was off and I could not get it right at that time.  This time, with the gnome  I think the decision of trying out Zbrush was the absolute best way to go for me. He translates perfectly to his concept art and with the topology ending up as well as it did I was able to create the expressions through blend shapes as I wanted.
I did ask for feedback on the four pictures that are show above and it was interesting that not everyone seen it the same way as I did, as they linked other emotions (but still in the same ‘rank’ of emotion such as joy is positive but happiness is positive aswell)

The questions were :

  1. Please let me know which expressions the pictures show.
  2. Are they clear expressions?
  3. What do you think about the texture?
  4. What do you think of the design?

Neutral was mostly commented for the first picture, however one did see it as concerned, but did explain that his view was related to the situation rather than the blend shape.

The second was seen as surprised or confused.  One commented that it was a ‘Dreamworks face.’  as they use it on almost all of their posters.


The third was said to be happy, joyful or enthusiastic and the fourth was all said to be anger.

The expressions were clearly positive or negative expressions and seeing the feedback they translate the emotion that I wanted to push through.

The texture, there were not many comments regarding the texture of the whole face, but rather the beard.  The chin could use some work, one commented, while another commented regarding the blend shape deforming the texture on the corner of the mouth.
I do hear the feedback and will adjust the blend shapes where possible.
The showing of the gums and mouth cavity was also picked up in the feedback, but they added that it could be a simple adjustment of the camera that could fix it.
So from the blend shape feedback I mainly take away that I have to be aware of the angles that I use when it comes to more extreme blend shapes, such as the anger one, to make sure that the colour difference between gum and mouth cavity doesn’t show as it can be translated as a broken part of the mesh, rather than simple colour difference. The design was regarded positively, and the texture could use some more work in the future (The beard that is, the skin was complimented)

(The book that was mentioned earlier in this blogpost can be found here.

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