Expressions and Poses

Since some time MakeHuman has expressions and pose libraries. They can now be exported to Blender with MHX2. You need to use the development versions of both MakeHuman and MHX2 for this.

To include expressions and poses, we must first make sure to equip the character with a rig that can handle them. Select one of the rigs with facial bones, i.e. Default or Default no toes. I generally prefer the latter, because I have never had any need for detailed toe poses, and it works better with control rigs.


Then go to the MHX2 exporter, select Expressions and Poses in the Options box, and press Export.


Next import the mhx2 file into Blender. There is no special option to control import of expressions and poses. If they are included in the mhx2 file, and we select a rig which has the required bones, they are automatically loaded. This means that the exported rig must also be imported, either by unchecking the Override Exported Data option, or by selecting the Exported rig in the Rigging group. Expressions will also work with the new Exported-MHX and Exported-Rigify rigs, but poses will not because the bone names differ.


Several new panels now become visible in the MHX2 Runtime tab. Face Units contains sliders that drive the facials bones.


The Expressions panel contains buttons for more complex expressions. Note that this panel consists of buttons rather than sliders – the expression buttons set the sliders in the Face Units panel. However, you can reduce the effect of an expression with the Expression Strength slider at the top of this panel. This is useful for expressions like a little bit angry. Reducing the expression strength may also be necessary to avoid breaking the face of extreme characters like the baby.


In the Poses panel we find buttons with the same poses as in MakeHuman. However, the poses probably don’t look quite as good in Blender as in MakeHuman, because the corrective shapekeys are not exported. Expressions and poses can be mixed, so the character can have an angry face while the body is fighting.


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10 kommentarer till Expressions and Poses

  1. Gabriel skriver:

    Thanks for this wonderfull tools! I have a little question for you (I did’nt find a place to ask my question and also I apologize for my crapy english). I want to know if it is possible to take the shape key (gender, age, weight and other) and get them in Blender. (I find the way to get the facial shape key). But I search a way get the other. Let me know if it’s possible or not and if not, if it will be one day possible. Thanks for reading and good day 🙂


    • thomasmakehuman skriver:

      No, not in a straightforward way. The goal of mhx2 is to import a fixed character into Blender, and allow poses and expressions for this character to be animated in Blender. You are asking for a way to morph the character into another one. Designing the character should done in MH.

      That said, it is not too difficult to write a program that loads the character-changing shapekeys. They are stored in files with the .target suffix in data folder. But doing this is not the scope of mhx2.


      • Gabriel skriver:

        Thanks for the quick reply. Now I understand more the goal of your tools. I find some .target file but it’s a lot of jargon ^^. I need those shape key for the game I make in Unreal Engine 4 (to allow the player to fully personalize is character, like if he was in MakeHuman, I think we both love how much MakeHuman is malleable).

        If isn’t to much complicated, it’s will be awesome if you show me how to export one or two shapekeys so I can do the other by myself (my skype=> consomer.yourself2). Certainly if you are to much busy, I’ll perfectly understand. Also thanks for reading and I wait for another answer 🙂


  2. Pingback: Control rigs for the official MakeHuman rig | Thomas@MakeHuman

  3. First of all, congratulations for this wonderful add-on! I’ve been trying to follow the steps above, but when I go to the Export tab, I can’t see the Expressiones and Poses checkbox, even if I have selected the required rig. I’m using the last version of the mhx2 add-on and the unstable version of makeHuman. Any clue about what can be wrong?


  4. John Mogilewsky skriver:

    I also am unable to find the expression panel in Blender after import. Pose is there, though.
    Operating system Windows 7 Enterprise SP1
    1) Makehuman 1.1.0 unstable 20150827 (r1959 7428bc 7ab7ba), exporting to MHX2 with a pose and expression selected.
    2) Blender 2.74
    3) MHX2 importer mhx2-unstable-makehuman-exchange-c92ecf84c438
    Very nice work. I feel guilty complaining with my issue. The other facial expression panels ”face shapes” and ”face drivers” work fine. I haven’t tried to import a BVH faceshift file yet, but I am hopeful.


  5. Jon skriver:

    Hi Thomas, I have loaded everything and now I have a MH model in Blender that can change expressions. I just tried to animate it and have the expressions changing in the time line, but the expression keys cannot be set as keyframes. I’ve tried keyframing the facial bones, and they seem to set, but the expression always remains on whatever is currently chosen regardless of keyframes. Am I missing something?


  6. Jon skriver:

    How do I animate the expressions? The facial bones do not seem to be keyframable. When I set an expression in the timeline, keyframe the facial bones, then move to a new point in the timeline, change the expression and keyframe the facial bones, the first keyframe is showing the second keyframe. In otherwords, the expressions are not dynamic, they only change in the present moment and cannot be saved at various points along the timeline. Blender says that it can’t find any attributes to save…



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