Getting an expressive face is a challenge in any type of animation, but when you are working in computer graphics, that task becomes much tougher. How do you know where to place facial landmarks in such a way that the face behaves itself when animated, and doesn’t just blow up into a geometric jumble? That’s where Brian Tindall‘s new book, The Art of Moving Points, comes in. This is not a rigging or animation book, nor is it software specific. The Art of Moving Points shows proper geometry layout and naming conventions for controls, with a focus on how the face will move. This is an art unto itself, and Brian’s book pulls back the curtain, revealing the best way to lay out your facial geometry for maximum flexibility and control.
The information in the book is conveyed in an easy to understand manner, with several illustrations and movies used in conjunction with the text to show the finer details of facial articulation.
The book is broken down by parts of the face, with ten chapters plus an appendix, showing basic Avar names and mesh topology. Mouth, brows, and eyes are all covered, as well as the more often overlooked areas of articulation, such as the nose and cheeks.
Many of the examples are documented using a 2D plane version of a face. This make it easy to see exactly what is moving and why. There are also 3D versions of the face and head, showing the topology in three dimensions; however, Brian’s video examples are the star of the show. He talks you through the how and why of each piece. The pace and attention to detail are nice, and it really feels like you are sitting with an expert, looking over his shoulder as he shows you the tricks of his trade.
The Art of Moving Points is available now for iPad via the iTunes store. At a cost of $39.99, the book may seem a bit pricey. The time and energy you save by learning to do things the right way though will make the book more than pay for itself, not to mention make your work look much better than it would otherwise. The Art of Moving Points is a solid addition to the libraries of intermediate to advanced character modelers and character riggers. I recommend picking it up.