Friday, October 16th, 2020 Posted by Jim Thacker

Snappers unveils Snappers Wrinkles Designer

Animation studio Snappers has posted a teaser video for Snappers Wrinkles Designer, an eye-catching Maya toolset that will enable users to create facial wrinkles for a character interactively in real time.

According to Snappers, it works with any 3D character, regardless of topology or UV layout, and can export wrinkle, blood flow and displacement maps for use in game engines like Unreal Engine.

The software forms part of Snappers’ in-house toolset, but the firm plans to release it publicly “soon”.

Create facial wrinkles for your 3D character in real time by manipulating guide curves
The Snappers Wrinkles Designer UI presents the user with a 2D view of the character’s face showing the unwrapped facial texture: according to Snappers, it supports any facial topology or UV layout.

Curves overlaid on it dictate the position and shape of the wrinkles.

On manipulating a guide curve, the 3D character updates in the Maya viewport in real-time, providing an interactive freeform shape editing workflow.

It looks to be an intuitive way to create wrinkles – and not entirely coincidentally, crazy fun to use.

Automatically generates sub-wrinkles and micro details
As well as generating wrinkles along the guide curves, Snappers Wrinkles Designer can interpolate between them to create an intervening series of wrinkles, or even “overlapping layers of sub-wrinkles”.

The form of each wrinkle can be modified via parameters controlling properties like width, strength, spread and noise.

The software automatically generates “sub-pixel micro details” like fine internal skin creases between wrinkles, and comes with a built-in ambient occlusion system.

Plays nicely with blendshapes and exports texture maps for use in game engines
The wrinkle system also interacts with facial expressions: the demo shows a user scrubbing between two different facial blendshapes with separate wrinkle patterns.

According to Snappers is is possible to “save templates for each facial action”.

As well as being used to set up characters for use inside Maya, the software can export the result as texture maps for use in other DCC applications and game engines.

In the comments to the YouTube video, Snappers says that it is capable of exporting wrinkle maps, blood flow maps and displacement maps.

Part of a wider set of character design tools
Although Snappers’ previous tech demos have been for in-house tools – its clients include game and VFX facilities including EA, BioWare and Mr. X – Snappers Wrinkles Designer looks set for a public release.

In the comments to the YouTube video, the firm says that it plans to release the software commercially “soon”, commenting: “We are working on it and we need your support.”

The video also hints at public releases for other tools.

The description describes Snappers Wrinkles Designer as being part of the Snappers Character Designer Suite, and the firm comments that “there will be another tool for creating … blendshapes”.

Pricing and system requirements
Snappers Wrinkles Designer is coming “soon”. Snappers hasn’t announced pricing or system requirements.

Read more abut Snappers Wrinkles Designer in the comments on the YouTube demo