Create 2d face rig Blender

Create an easy 2D face rig for characters in Blender.

As an animator in a small studio, but also a freelancer, you are likely to work on more aspects of the pipeline, than just the animation. That’s one of the reasons I created a face rig that is easy to set up. 

Over the years I created a small video series on how to set up this face rig. Be sure to check them out, cause they’re packed with good techniques.

There are several ways to rig a face, however, a 2d face on a 3d character is a style that can be achieved relatively quickly. A lego character is an example of this.

With many things in CG, there are plenty of ways to get to that result. Some popular methods are using an UV wrap modifier or animated textures. Some drawbacks are lack of instant feedback and the slowdown of viewport playback.

We’re gonna create an alternative 2D face rig for character animation that is mesh-based. We used to work with the UV Wrap modifier or other texture based solutions. We create meshes to add a mouth and eye’s to the face. Then we create a rig to give the animator some animator friendly controls to use.

A quick summary of the video.

We start by modeling eye/mouth shapes. Then we create vertex groups and assign accordingly one per shape variation. Subsequently , we make a custom property somewhere in the rig.
Add the desired amount of mask modifiers, again one per vertex group. Set a driver for the modifier visibility. 

There is a small scripted expression in the driver, that states if the variable is 1, the on and off switch is set to 1, meaning on. Closing of the expression, we say, if the variable is anything other than 1, the switch is turned off, also known as 0. The expression is 1 if (var == 1) else 0
The variable value in this expression is the corresponding value in the custom property, each number resembles a new mouth or eye shape.

The driver is set up as a single property, remember to copy data path from the custom property, and paste data path. We can easily copy the driver to the next mask modifier and change the expression to the next number.

This is an update on how to create a simple face rig for your characters in Blender. I’ve been using this setup for a couple of years now and found a few extra tweaks to make the face rig extra animator friendly.

In freelance work, but also in the studio I work for, I have to switch quite often between styles. 

It’s useful to me to have a couple of facial expression styles to choose from. So that I can vary these on a client-by-client basis.

One of them is a 2d projected mesh on the face, while this is relatively easy to set up, you’re still able to express yourself through the characters.

It might be a more stylized look however, the alternative would be modeling a 3d mouth and interior, and rigging that could be too time-consuming for a particular job.

This is a follow-up post on a series for face rigs, we’ve seen how to set up this 2d face rig in Blender.

This time around we use the existing face shapes to create a LED system for the eyes and mouth. Say you’re working on a robot, this could be a cool way to create some facial expressions for that rig. Using the modifier stack and for example, dupliverts, blender allows us to go bananas. Combining several tools to get even more out of this face rig.

I hope you found this series helpful and enjoyed the insights. If you add this setup to your characters, tag me on instagram #mvartz.

It’s always a highlight to see work of you guys and girls!