Welcome to the Making Your First Model Using Blender by LearnMMD's mae Blythe!
< Previous Tutorial     CONTENTS PAGE     Next Tutorial >
A featured article by LearnMMD's Mae Blythe!How can I use Blender to add facials (morphs) to the model I am making from scratch? Please tell me about Shape Keys. How do I use proportional editing in Blender?

Making Your First Model Part 21
The Basics of Adding Facials in Blender

So, let’s get this out of the way so I won’t make any jokes about it later . . . Facials is a very bad name for anything in the Year of Our Lord, 2017. The procedure you can get at a spa gets a pass because that’s what it was named after . . . But in the Year of Our Lord, 2017, nothing should have that name. 

What are facials?

What is commonly known as ‘facials’ or ‘morphs’ in MMD is known as “Shape-Keys” in Blender. Simply put, it’s different expressions that you can trigger with a slider bar. When you see a model wink, blink, and lipsync, you’re seeing facials in action.

If I could go back in time, I’d give the original translator a slap on the wrist and tell him to name it something like “Exp” for “Expression”. . . Or literally anything else. For that reason, we’re calling them “Shape Keys” from hereon.

To be completely frank, there is no one list of shape keys a model requires. If you have the keys for blinking and making the vowel sounds, most people would never know there was anything missing.

This is extremely evident in the earliest models. The original default Miku has fifteen shape keys in total. The largest, and I assume most recent, model that comes with MMD is Luka. She has thirty-nine shape keys. However, this pales in comparison to my inspiration, Michi-K. Her latest model of Rin has around fifty shape keys . . . for the eyes alone! 

Now, there is a lot you can do in PMX with shape keys. You can even use them to change colors, use them to compound other shape keys, and, well, do a lot of things I can’t understand at this point!

This is about things I can understand, though. This is just adding the basic shape keys.

For this, I am going to use Luka’s shape keys with just a few kicked out of the list. “Mole Under her Eye” and “Blanch” would require me to add an extra mesh to make them work.

Before we get started, I wanted to share the list of basic facials I’m working from. Mind you, there are quite a few missing that I want to add. However, it’s important to get the basics down before you start adding silly stuff like making the model blow raspberries!


Morph Name English Name Panel
困る sadness Eyebrow
怒り anger Eyebrow
go up Eyebrow
go down Eyebrow
眉上げ go up 2 Eyebrow
不機嫌 sullen Eyebrow
左眉上げ go up L Eyebrow
左眉不機嫌 sullen L Eyebrow
左眉怒り anger L Eyebrow
左眉困り sadness L Eyebrow
右眉上げ go up R Eyebrow
右眉不機嫌 sullen R Eyebrow
右眉怒り anger R Eyebrow
右眉困り sadness R Eyebrow
まばたき blink Eye
笑い smile Eye
ウィンク wink Eye
ウィンク2 wink2 Eye
ウインク右 wink_R Eye
ウィンク右2 wink2_R Eye
なごみ calm Eye
はぅ close>< Eye
こらっ eyes anger Eye
くわっ eyes open widely Eye
じと目 doubt Eye
a Mouth
i Mouth
u Mouth
e Mouth
o Mouth
triangle Mouth
δ delta Mouth
regret Mouth
あ2 a2 Mouth
ああ a3 Mouth
いい i2 Mouth
瞳小 pupil Other


Alright! All those words and no actual work!

Back to Blender…

You are one hundred percent capable of making shape keys in PMXe. However, my knowledge of it is that it is painful and not worth doing. Instead, we’ll be using Blender.

Another note is just that you need to give your shape keys the proper Japanese names. However, this poses a few problems at first. There’s a good chance that Blender will display Japanese text as “mojibake”. Well, not as much “mojibake” as boxes!

To turn on International Fonts, open “User Preferences”. Go to the “System” tab and scroll until you see “International Fonts”.

Location of International Fonts in Blender

Once you do that, Japanese text should show up.

Another note is that it’s hard to type Japanese in Blender. That sounds like a strange thing to say . . . but it’s true! Something about the interface messes with your ability to type in Japanese in certain areas. For that reason, it’s a good idea to copy and paste the names. (This comes with the added benefit of insuring that other people’s motion data will utilize your shape keys!)

Now . . . Import your model into Blender using MMD_Tools and let’s get started!

. . . However, before we actually get started, let’s discuss proportional editing.

Proportional Editing Pop-Up

Proportional editing is an amazing miracle and I love it!

When you use proportional editing . . . things move proportionally!

Examples of Proportional Editing Tool Use

Without it, moving one vertex would cause an unseemly spike. With it, moving just one vertex will allow you to move everything around it in a smooth manner.

As you can see, though, moving the fringe with old fashioned proportional editing on also moved Camila’s face. This is where “Connected” comes in. The proportional editing tool will only move things that are connected to the selection you are moving. This is great news for facials as it will allow you to manipulate the eyebrow (which isn’t connected to anything) with proportional editing without affecting the rest of the face . . . or the hair!

To change the sphere of influence your proportional editing has, press “g” and then roll your mouse’s wheel up and down to make the circle bigger or smaller . . . If you’re on a laptop and have no mouse wheel . . . buy a mouse. I tried to use Blender years ago before I got a mouse, and I had to stop because it was impossible to do half of the stuff I had to. While there were workarounds to make a trackpad work, they were just too difficult to work with.

Now let’s get started!

By far, the easiest shape keys to make will be the eyebrows. They are not connected to anything . . . and good lot of their shape keys are just “go up” or “go down”! Luckily for us, they’re the first on this list.

Start in Object Mode. Select your model by right clicking, then go to the “Data Tab” in the bar properties bar.

Location of Data Tab and Shape Keys

To add a shape key, press the plus sign under “Shape Keys”. A new key called “Key 1” should appear. Double click on it to edit the name. We’ll rename it as “困る” for “Sad Eyebrows”.

As a note, there is a morph tools in MMD_Tools. I still don’t have that figured out. Using the “Shape Keys” panel works well enough. The downside is that you need to both add the English name and sort them later . . . But that’s not at all tough to do in PMXe!

Check the bottom of the editing window; above the box where you choose from object and edit mode, the name of the current active shape key will be present.

Camila with Sad Eyebrow Shape key selected

Choose the shape key you want to edit and go in to edit mode.

Her bangs are in the way .  . . Press “a” twice to deselect everything, then select one face, edge, or vertices on her bangs and press “L”. This will select her entire bangs. Press “h” to hide them! Once you’re finished, remember to press “Alt + H” to bring them back!

Be warned . . . Popping in to Edit Mode might be pretty scary!

Camila in Edit Mode Without Bangs

Edit to your heart’s content! Once you are happy with your shape key, go back into Object Mode. You can use the slider in the “Shape Keys” panel to test how it looks.

Shape Key Slider

Now, I’ve gotten down to the individual eyebrow shape keys. There is a way to mirror the shape keys in PMX, but the only video I found on it was literally nine minutes. That isn’t to say long videos are bad . . . It’s just to say that, wow, that takes more effort than making a new shape key.

Here’s how to make a left eyebrow shape key out of the left one. First, let’s set the eyebrow we want to mirror’s value to 1.

Shape key for eyebrow with value of 1

Now, let’s click on the drop down under the ‘add and remove shape key’ buttons.

Add New Shape Key from Mix

Choose “New Shape from Mix”. This will create a copy of the shape key! Now, in the same menu as “New Shape from Mix”, click on “Mirror Shape Key”. (Mirror shape key only works if your topology is perfectly mirrored. If it isn’t, you can choose the other mirror shape key option.)

Because of her bangs, we can’t see if it worked or not. However, if we go into Edit Mode . . .

Mirrored Shape Key in Edit Mode

Now, here’s the cool thing that I wish I knew earlier . . . Using the mirror tool, you could create the shape key for the left . . . mirror it for the right . . . and create a new shape key from the mix with the left and right at one!

Guys, I feel like such a smart cookie for looking that up!! I am 100% using that on the eyes!

. . .

actually, scratch that! I’m running into a bit of problems with mirroring making the other side wonky! So, we’ll be doing a lot of stuff by hand. Blergh!

Well, now that we know the basics . . . We can move on to more advanced stuff! Like eyes . . . and mouths . . . And advanced stuff no one else uses!

So tune in next time when we really sink our teeth into making shape keys!

< Previous Tutorial     CONTENTS PAGE     Next Tutorial >
Visit the LearnMMD.com Homepage! Plenty of Mikumikudance instruction and info!