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How Nana prepares their model for Live2D (Part 5)

Updated: Nov 30, 2021

Continuing from where we left off last time we are going to rig the mouth today, and create some basic mouth movements. We are also going to talk about warp deformers, one of the 2 deformers commonly used in Live2D.

Let's go through what the plan is here
  • I am going to explain why deformers are essential in Live2D, even more so for people who use the free license version.

  • We are going to add warp deformers to the iris to make the blinking look even better than before.

  • We are going to rig the mouth and I will try to explain as best to my abilities how we can not only make the mouth open and close, but also changing the shape with everything we have learned so far.

Without further ado, let's get started.

Warp Deformer

Warp deformers can be described as a grid you put on top of one or multiple parts. With this deformer, you can also deform the assigned parts and it is like a higher hierarchy than the parts themselves. Now, why did I mention that they are even more so important to free version users than people with a subscription.

It all comes down to the limitations we have as free version users - that being "the free version only supports objects to be linked to 1 parameter at a time". You can see where I am going with that. A Warp Deformer can be used to cheat the system so to speak.

As mentioned a bit earlier you can create a warp deformer by selecting one or multiple parts and then click on the warp deformer button in the top nav. You will get a warning if you are using the free version, letting you know how many deformers you already have and that the limit is 50 deformers. This is plenty and under normal circumstances you won't exceed that number.

In the create warp deformer window, you can name the deformer and you also have additional options as you can see. The most important one however is the number of Bezier divisions. This will basically dictate how many points you have which you can move later on. I will try to explain it in deeper detail once it comes up. Just a tip, use an odd number for the second one, that way it won't overlap with the center point of the warp deformer. You have access to all these information even after you've created the deformer, so don't worry too much about it at this point.

So in our first experience with the warp deformer, we are going to deform the irises, which have already been assigned to the Eyeball X and Eyeball Y parameters.

You can see in this screenshot that the deformer looks different than a mesh, the green markers are what was called "Bezier divisions" by the program, and you can move them around to deform the elements which are assigned under it.

Here's an example on the iris:

In case of the iris, what we want to do here is to squeeze them a bit as the eye is closing, this gives it a bit more live.

A general rule in animation is that small subtle animations which are not too obvious make an animation end up looking better and the animated object alive.

So whenever you have the opportunity to do something like that, don't hesitate to experiment.

Let's have a look at the result - it is super subtle but because I've mentioned it you will be able to notice it:

Mouth Open and Close

Let's start with the mouth next. I've started by creating the meshes for the "base mouth" part and the outline part of the mouth. Ideally they are aligned perfectly, but realistically it's not worth the time to get it perfectly done. just make sure that they roughly align.0

We will start with one mouth open and one close state first. For that, we'll be using the "Mouth Open" parameter. We will start with 2 key points first like usually - far right for the open state, and far left for the closed state. Like before, I've prepared a closed mouth part which will serve as a guide.

You will encounter a problem here, no matter what you do, you will always end with a result similar to this one - there will always be a part of the mouth visible. this is basically the nature of how the whole thing works, if you go for a mesh like I do. We will hide it with opacity. There are other mesh shapes out there which can bypass this problem, but this method is the easiest and fastest for me to rig.

Just like before, we will use the closed mouth part as an over layer of the upper lip. and hide it on the right side of the parameter. Once the open and closed state are done (except the opacity part). Add a third key point in the middle and make the "half open" state. After that, go close to the far left and make the keyframe where you will start reducing the opacity of the mouth parts.

And here is the rough result:

Mouth Forms

Let's go one step further and try to work out different mouth forms next. Now in general there are two possible approaches you can go from here... either you prepare a model which is able to mimic speech by having access to the microphone (which isn't supported my every tracking software, so be aware of that); or you prepare different phases from happy to sad/upset. We will be working on the latter, since it is easier for beginners and also covers all tracking software out there.

This is where the "Mouth Form" parameter comes into play, just like how the Eyeball X and Eyeball Y parameters work, both Mouth parameters can be linked together. So the best way to approach this is probably the following:

  1. Link the mouth parts to the Mouth Form parameter.

  2. Create a 2 point setup on that parameter (far right, far left)

  3. Have your mouth in the opened state and start shaping it into a sad/upset mouth on the Mouth Form key point on the very left.

  4. Once that is done, do the same for every other Mouth Open state.

  5. After that, add a third key point on the Mouth Form parameter.

  6. Repeat step 3 and 4 for the new key point.

  7. Animate the upper and lower teeth (optional)

I wished I could show a step by step work in progress of these steps... but it is really difficult to do so and especially more so if I have to stop in the middle to continue writing this blog entry... In the end I've just decided to show the result after following step 1 to 6:

Before I end with this blog entry, let's see the result in action after I additionally worked on the eye blinking a bit further:

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