Hi there, my name is Ivam Pretti and this is my proposal to improve the shape key face rig method in Blender, but it can be used by any person with any kind of software because it is an idea, a concept. I will explain in a very simple way so that every body can understand and in this way I hope to give my contribution to the Blender community.
In Sintel the face rig with shape keys are gorgeous as they use just 1 shape key for each important deformation and it works great. But let’s move to a more cartoonish style like my character in Grab Y our Gum.

Shape key and shape breakdown-1.jpg

I had a lot of trouble finding a way that works with really big deformations, and this proposal is theway to solve a lot of those troubles.
This proposal is just one layer of implementations I am developing, so let’s keep it simple. How do we animate a one shape key rig like the face rig in Sintel (which uses just one slíder in a linear way)?

Shape key and shape breakdown-2.jpg

In my proposal we use the same slíder but this time we use two dimensions for each deformation.
There are lots of people that use this same idea but to control two sides of the face with one control. This may not look original and you might be thinking, “Oh my god tell me something new”. But do have a lookat the video (Animation Example.avi) on the zip I provided and observe both methods of animation.

Shape key and shape breakdown-3.jpg

On the smiling action you can see the slíder making an S curve and when the face relaxes it becomes linear like the animation path on the picture.
With this proposal you can animate in the same way as the Sintel rig but you can adjust the deformation for a more.

Shape key and shape breakdown-4.jpg

I provided the blend file (grab rigify.blend) so that you can use my character (by the way rigify in blender 2.58 is fantastic, try it out too). In the zip file there are more pictures of the shapes and the interaction of the system.
We need to remember that on the blend file there is a mirror modifier that puts the deformation on both sides, but this can be easily fixed by applying the mirror modifier and adjusting the shape keys with groups.
Unfortunately I didn’t have the time to finish it.
If you have any questions e-mail me:, later on I plan to make more articles with this same character, so lets see where this goes.
Some final notes is that to make it really work, it’s necessary to sculpt the BD shape with the maximum of changes. Note the shape of the mouth, the eyes, the ears, and so on.
So keep blending, wish you all the best.

Ivam Pretti