How Can You Create Animated Facial Wrinkles Automatically in Adobe Character Animator?

Facial wrinkles move and change their appearance as facial muscles move. This is a simple step-by-step process of rigging and animating facial wrinkles in Adobe Character Animator.

Adding wrinkles to character’s faces is the most common technique to make them look older.

While static wrinkles might be enough for representing age, animating them will add realism and make the character much more expressive.

how to rig and animate facial wrinkles in adobe character animator

The Main Idea

We will divide facial wrinkles into two main groups. The forehead wrinkles and the oral wrinkles. We will cycle between the forehead wrinkles as the eyebrows move up and down. We will also add some local twists to make the movement look more natural. For the mouth wrinkles, we will also create several static options and attach each wrinkle variation to a mouth shape that will trigger that wrinkle state.

Types of Facial Wrinkles

There are two main types of wrinkles. Wrinkles that form due to gravity and loss of skin elasticity and wrinkles that appear as a result of frequent facial movements.

 All facial wrinkles move as the facial muscles move.

The human face consists of more than 30 facial muscles that can form thousands of identifiable facial expressions

facial wrinkles and facial muscles

To understand the shape of wrinkles that are formed in a different area of the face it is best to take a deeper look into human anatomy.

Forehead area wrinkles form as a result of different forehead muscle contractions: frontalis, procerus, and corrugator.

Those produce horizontal wrinkles across the whole forehead area, and vertical lines at the root of the nose.

Oral muscles, such as orbicularis, buccinator, depressor anguli oris, and others contribute to wrinkling around the mouth area. Those cause folds around the corners of the mouth, pull the skin at the chin area, and more. 

Animating Forehead Wrinkles

We will want the forehead wrinkles to change their appearance as the character moves the eyebrows. 

When the eyebrows move up the forehead wrinkles become more pronounced while the eyebrows are lowered the horizontal wrinkles become less noticeable and the vertical ones appear. 

In Design Software

Create a Forehead Movement cycle in the Design Software

forehead wrinkles example
forehead wrinkles layer structure in adobe illustrator
In Design Software

Add Eyebrow Handles and Face Behavior to the "Forehead Wrinkles" Layer

forehead wrinkles in adobe character animator eyebrow tags
face behavior for forehead wrinkles-to-be-able-to affect new set of eyebrows tags
In Design Software

Add Layer Picker Behavior to the Forehead Wrinkles

layer picker behavior to cycle between wrinkle shapes on eyebrow movement
layer picker behavior record mode
forehead wrinkles animated

Animating Mouth Wrinkles

As the lips and jaw move and change shape, different facial wrinkles are formed. For different wrinkles to appear as the mouth changes shape the wrinkles should be attached to them. There are few ways to achieve this:

mouth wrinkles animated adobe character animator

Option 01

  1.  It is possible to include the facial wrinkles together with the whole lower face area and tag everything as the mouth. This way the whole lower face will switch each time that a different mouth shape is triggered.

Option 02

In Design Software

Draw Different Mouth Wrinkles Combinations


Attach Each Wrinkle State to a Mouth Shape

  1.  Create a New Layer named “Mouth Wrinkles”.
  2.  On each sublayer of the “Mouth Wrinkles” layer, add all the possible mouth wrinkles states.
  3. In Character Animator *, tag the mouth wrinkles layer as the mouth.
  4. Tag each of the mouth wrinkle sub-layers as different mouth shape corresponding to the mouth shapes you would like the wrinkles to appear next to.
mouth wrinkles art layers in adobe illustrator

Now What?

Once your character has animated wrinkles, you may want to make other facial elements more expressive. Here are few techniques that will allow you more control over the eye animations in Adobe Character Animator

Stay tuned for new tutorials.

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