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Introduction to Creating Facial Blendshapes in Maya

A Complete Guide to FACS Blendshapes Using Maya & ZBrush With Derrick Sesson


The face is one of the most complex areas of the human body, and understanding the motion of the face is even more complex. Being able to split facial motion into key shapes to be used together to form expressions not only simplifies the face but allows you to re-create these shapes in CG, and animate complex expressions. In this 5-hour workshop by Derrick Sesson, a Facial Modeler at Digital Domain, you will learn all the basics of Facial Blendshape Modeling.

This workshop assumes you have no prior knowledge of blendshapes, and takes you through the full facial process using Autodesk Maya. Derrick starts with a thorough explanation of FACS (Facial Action Coding System), before preparing a ZBrush head for deformation, breaking down essential shapes needed for each region of the face, and blocking in those shapes with deformers, such as clusters. He shows how to refine those shapes with Maya’s sculpting tools, before bringing them all together into a blendshape node.

The concepts and lessons in this workshop will equip you with a fundamental understanding of FACS and how to create blendshapes, providing you with all the skills you need to create a set of facial blendshapes that give you the control to morph a face into any expression you like.

The head model showcased throughout the workshop was created by the talented team at 3dscanstore.com and is available for free. The skills taught can also be applied to other character head models.

Duration: 5h 11m

Format: HD 1920x1080

Derrick Sesson

3D Generalist & Modeling Specialist

Derrick Sesson is a skilled 3D Generalist & Modeling Specialist primarily working in Maya, though he’s proficient in a variety of software used in digital production. Derrick has worked as a Lead Modeler and Character Supervisor and has an in-depth understanding of studio pipelines. He has over a decade of studio experience working in VFX on blockbuster titles including Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, and Beauty and the Beast.

  • Derrick is one of the most positive, driven, and motivated people I’ve ever worked with. With his both, technical and artistic skills on top of a lovable persona, he keeps inspiring and motivating his surroundings. Derrick’s work is always clean, efficient, and spot-on.

    - Raffael Frank
    Facial Modeling Lead at Digital Domain

  • Derrick has been an amazing colleague, and he then became an amazing supervisor. He is an extremely dedicated individual who cares just as much about honing his craft and sharing his knowledge with his peers. He knows extensively about many disciplines and is always eager to learn more. One of the most dedicated character artists I've had the opportunity to work with!

    - Valentin Erbuke
    Character Artist at Insomniac Games

  • I worked with Derrick on several projects and was always impressed by his dedication and love for the craft. He is fun to work with and takes the time to share his knowledge. It’s always a great relief to have such a well-versed person ready to help at any time. I look forward to working with him in the future.

    - Yarin Manes
    VFX Supervisor at The Mill