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I understand the lattice modifier is for deforming complex objects and it's actually pretty amazing. But the more I think about it, all the fine details can be done through sculpting shape keys. Lattice seems to have static squares which you can scale infinitely to refine your detail, but I can't think of any reason to use it over just sculpting what I want in using shape keys.

My brain is probably not seeing the big picture here... I'm mainly just focused on characters organic stuff. Even if I wanted a bicep to expand, I can do it better with shape keys.

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  • $\begingroup$ First thought; you can use lattice modifier on multiple objects at the same time $\endgroup$ – Carlo Jan 3 at 4:10
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Shape keys and lattice are 2 completely different things in my opinion, generally you should think about shape keys (or bones) when you want to animate small details of your mesh, and Lattice (or Mesh Deform or Surface Deform modifiers) when you want to deform the whole mesh or a large part of your mesh.

Also, lattice is particular as it deforms only the part of the mesh that it contains, here is the kind of thing that you can do with Lattice that you couldn't do with shapekeys or Mesh Deform or Surface Deform:

enter image description here

Here is what it would give to have a boolean object that is latticed:

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ Can you shape key the lattice vertices thus giving you complete control of an animated deformation for the entire mesh? $\endgroup$ – Jimmy Lin Jan 3 at 7:51
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    $\begingroup$ sure, as you can see the lattice has shapekeys, so the best is to keep the basic lattice cube shape as first shapekey, then create one or several others $\endgroup$ – moonboots Jan 3 at 7:53
  • $\begingroup$ Thank Moon that looks like a very practical use. One question though, on your gif example - can that be inverted? So instead of using the lattice to create the funnel shape, can you use the lattice to displace geometry? For example, a drill going into the ground. The area inside the drill is being displaced with lattice. Pretty much the inverse of what you are showing me. $\endgroup$ – Jimmy Lin Jan 3 at 8:06
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    $\begingroup$ maybe a combination of boolean and lattice? you should show what you want exactly, it would help. Keep in mind that it's hard to change small details with lattice $\endgroup$ – moonboots Jan 3 at 8:12
  • $\begingroup$ you create an object that will be your boolean object and that will dig the hole, and you use a lattice on it if you want this boolean object to be deformed, that will deform the shape of the hole $\endgroup$ – moonboots Jan 3 at 8:21
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As I understand it, the lattice modifier is also good in combination with simulations, like soft body or cloth simulation. A cloth simulation on high detail mesh would take ages to bake. With lattice, you can calculate simulation with low detail mesh and apply it to the high resolution mesh.

The shape keys can give you small scale animation of the mesh. (for example facial expressions) The advantage here, is that you can blend shapekeys (one shapekey for the open/close value of the eyes, one shapekey for open/close value for the mouth) and generate all possible combinations from it.

Lattice Modifier -> Apply low detail lattice deformation to high detail mesh to save processing time or to exclude small details from calculation.

Shake Keys -> Different Poses or facial expressions.

So, yeah, the expansion of a biceps would be done in shape keys.

But I could be wrong completely.

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  • $\begingroup$ Can you please explain more on Soft Body Cloth simulations? I thought they were 2 completely different simulations. So you're saying if I have a high poly mesh that has cloth properties, I can put a low poly lattice around it and bake that instead. The results will be good enough and the baking time is significantly reduced. $\endgroup$ – Jimmy Lin Jan 3 at 5:31
  • $\begingroup$ Soft Body and Cloth simulations are two different things, you are right. Sorry to ruin the moment, but I made a typo, sorry. (i wrote 'of' instead of 'or') I also just found out, that only soft body simulations are supported with lattices. Since bothe are physics simulations, I thought it would apply to both, but it doesn't. If you change the example you made to soft body, then yeah, you can absolutely do that. Highpoly mesh -> low poly lattice -> bake softbody sim on lattice -> use lattice transforms on highpoly mesh $\endgroup$ – goddamnmaddog Jan 7 at 2:35

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