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Non-Destructive Modeling with Shape Keys in Blender


Non-Destructive Modeling with Shape Keys in Blender

Shape Keys are a technique that seems unfamiliar to many users. Kent Trammell presents a a new Blender Cookie tutorial on their advantages and how to use them.

Kent writes:

Whether you want to venture into the profession industry of computer graphics or want to create the most beautiful CG Images, you can’t help but learn to sharpen your skill set to be as efficient as possible. A non-destructive philosophy will save you a lot of time and frustration. By “non-destructive” I mean a layered workflow that builds upon itself and doesn’t destroy the old work with the new. You see this encouraged a lot with photoshop artists who use many layers and masks to preserve their work each step of the way. This same philosophy can be applied to a modeler’s workflow using Blender.


About the Author

Avatar image for Bart Veldhuizen
Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.


  1. This is one of those videos where I learned way more about Blender than just shapekeys.

    Little things you miss when you're tutorial jumping a lot .. like, being able to change the rotation orientation to the 3D cursor. I never knew that! HOT DIGGITY that made some stuff I'm working on so much easier!

    Good tutorial. As usual, BlenderCookie delivers quality.

    • I agree, I often learn new stuff that's not the primary topic in BlenderCookie tuts. Or else I forget about certain features and relearn. This tutorial looks interesting to me - will need to give it a look.

    • Is it too unbelievable to consider that maybe people don't always remember the details on everything they might have read, esp. when they're new to it? There's a difference between reading and realizing.

  2. Excellent tutorial ! Thank you ! I like a lot Shape Keys. Unfortunately, this great tool has been broken several times in the past. So I had to redo many things from scratch in some important projects. I hope that it will remain stable for a while ! For my own, I use Shape keys mainly for the animation of background characters. This kind of animation allows to make standalone walking characters without armatures, making them very portable (one unique self animated object), so easy to use, and not consuming too much computing ressources.

    • I checked out your tests for the shape key walk cycles, and I think that is an excellent idea. Your tests with these shape-key-walking characters going over uneven terrain were also really cool. Thanks for sharing!

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