2D Facial animations on a 3D Character? (Need Help)


I’m in a bit of a pickle and need some advice/assistance with a project I’m working on, specifically how to go about creating 2D Facial animations on a 3D Character. (Similar to Animal Crossing, Pokémon and LoZ: Windwaker) So my eyes and mouth are on separate small planes that are skinned to to head and have a texture assigned to each.

My animator is using Maya for all of the cut scene and loop animations for the game, so we’re trying to figure a method for him to animate the eyes in Maya, for this to then export correctly and be working in UE4. Our first idea was to use a UV offset a texture sheet in Maya and key it, but we’re not sure if this will work with exporting, as the method isn’t rigged as such. (Here is the video I was going by: Animating 2D Eyes From a Texture in Maya - YouTube) I’m not sure if it’s possible to get this working in unreal.

The other plan was to have Several plane meshs, each with a different eye/mouth phase, and have them scale between 0 and 1 to switch the textures out. But yet again, not sure how this will translate to Unreal and seems as if it could get messy.

Does anyone have any advice or know a better way to achieve this? Or how to possibly get the previous ideas working?

Thank you!

I did Something similar few years ago with UDK.
That’s how I get it to work, it may be not optimal :

  • in my skeleton, I add few bones with no vertex skinned.
  • In 3DS max, I move these bones while animating (with wire parameters).
  • In UE, I retrieve the relative rotation of these bones.
  • I use the variables “passed” from max to UE through the rotation of these bones on the UV offset or “frame of a flipbook” ***** in my material.

This way, I can animate in 3DS max and export this information in FBX format.
I know it’s not very straight forward but it’s effective :slight_smile:
I did it in UE3 but I’m sure you can do it with UE4 ^^.

***** by “frame of a flipbook”, I mean a large texture with several smaller texture inside. By setting the coordonate of the big texture, I can choose wich smaller part of the texture is visible on my plane. EG, you can have several different mouths and choose witch one to display. If you’re not working for Ios, there no down side with use of non square texture and it’s easyer to move the coordonate on one axe only.


Thank you for the response, we’re doing something similar but with the Multiple meshes, putting joints onto each mesh joined to the head and making them shrink into the head as part of the animation to switch the eyes and faces around. ( I have a texture sheet with about 8/10 eye sets on a 1k) However, I might give Flipbook a go! Thank you!