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Pose Shape Keys

This add-on enables a workflow where you can continue iterating on your vertex weights and bone constraints after you've already created your shape keys, without having to re-sculpt those shape keys. To put another way, you can think of shape keys as a final shape rather than as deltas on some deformation.

The only limitation is that there is some precision loss when using bendy bone deformations.

It also lets you manage multiple copies of a shape key together. Each copy can have a different vertex group mask, or be applied mirrored around the X axis.

You can find a video tutorial and more detailed explanation of how it works here.

Basic Workflow:

  • Create a pose whose deformation you want to correct. A pose is defined as an Action and a frame number.
  • Create a Pose Key on the deformed mesh. Assign the action and the frame number.
  • Press "Store Evaluated Mesh". This will create a copy of your mesh with all deformations applied.
  • Sculpt this mesh into the desired shape.
  • Go back to the deformed mesh, and assign one or more Shape Keys to the Pose Key.
  • Press "Set Pose" to ensure that the rig is in the pose you created and specified earlier.
  • Press "Overwrite Shape Keys".
  • When you activate your shape key, your deformed mesh should now look identical to your sculpted shape.
  • If you have more than one shape key, the same data will be pushed into each. The purpose of this is that each copy of the shape key can have a different mask assigned to it. This can streamline symmetrical workflows, since you can push to a left and a right-side shape key in a single click.

Example use cases:

1. Sculpted facial expressions applied directly on top of a bone deformation based rig:

  • A character artist can sculpt facial expressions to great quality and detail
  • You pose the rig to be as close to this sculpted shape as possible, and create a rig control that blends into this pose using Action Constraints.
  • Using the add-on, create corrective shape keys that blend your posed mesh into the shape of the sculpt.
  • Hook up those corrective shape keys to the rig via drivers
  • You now have the precise result of the sculpted facial expression, while retaining the freedom of bone-based controls that can move, scale and rotate!

2. Author finger correctives 24-at-a-time:

  • Create a fist pose where all finger bones (4x2x3=24) are bent by around 90 degrees.
  • Create a Pose Key and a storage object, and sculpt the desired deformation result.
  • On the rigged mesh, create the 24 shape keys within the PoseKey; One for each section of each finger.
  • Assign vertex groups to them that mask the affected areas.
  • Normalize the vertex masks.
  • Now you can push the sculpted fist shape into all 24 shape keys at the same time.
  • Create drivers so each shape key is driven by the corresponding finger bone.
  • You can now tweak and iterate on the sculpted shape, and update all 24 shape keys with the click of a single button.