What's the best approach for eye tracking and mouth movement of stylized characters in UE5?

Hey, I’ve been learning blender basics for the past couple of weeks and currently I’m trying to create a few stylized character models. There are two things I don’t yet know how to handle - how to make character look at the thing he’s focused on, and how to make his mouth open and close while talking. There are a lot of ways to achieve this in blender itself, but I have no idea what would work well after exporting to unreal, and most tutorials I’ve found are about metahumans, mocap and other realistic stuff.

My guess would’ve been to add two bones controlling the mouth and handle the eye movement using shader and blueprint magic, but that’s just a newbie talking. What are the standard approaches to solve these problems? I’m using UE5.3.2.

That would depend on what kind of rig your character have. There are lots of options, i’ll try to describe some, and sorry for rambling style.

Usually eyeballs would be skinned to a bone each, and rotation of the bone would control the direction eye is looking. If you have flat eyes, then they can be still skinned to a bone (separate flat iris mesh) and moved around. Or a shader, where you control xy position of iris texture or flip trough a flipbook texture, that would require to control either Material Instance Dynamic variables in blueprint or Material Curves in animation (I feel like this is better approach). There are also blendshapes (morphtargets) that can be controlled via animation curves and those are often used in facial setups. I feel everything I said also applies to mouth as well, just a bit complex since there are more shapes.

Thanks for the insight and tips, I will read about morph targets and decide what to do next then