Allow me to properly explain, step by step, in order for everyone to understand the question.

In case anyone who reads this is unaware, Manuel Bastion has released an add-on named "ManuelLab". This add-on creates Humanoid meshes you can tweak however you please. It's finalization feature uses Shape Keys.

Meanwhile, Karan Shah has posted tutorials involving creating Motion Graphics without Shape Keys or Add-ons. He also has a tutorial involving 2D cut-out characters...without Shape Keys...and with a Pose Library.

Please, do not get me wrong, I understand 2D and 3D are 2 completely different things here, especially with how Karan Shah uses the NLA editor. However, I want to set that fact beside the question at hand.

Is there any way to finalize ManuelLab generated Meshes, with their skeletons intact, without using Shape Keys? I believe there is something to be gained from the mixture of what both of these artists and developers have created. This sounds like a tall jump or too steep a step, but I am no less hopeful.

The pose library involves the use of multiple layers to Move objects throughout.

Edit by request: http://www.manuelbastioni.com/download.php http://tutsplus.com/authors/karan-shah http://www.tutsplus.com/authors/karan-shah (Check the 1st 4 tutorials at the top, at the time this post is edited.)

  • $\begingroup$ Could you please edit question to provide links to addons / tutorials? $\endgroup$
    – batFINGER
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 5:23
  • $\begingroup$ Post edited, check it out when you have time. $\endgroup$
    – user22447
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 5:46

1 Answer 1


I think the answer is simple : you may need up to one bone per vertex to obtain the same accuracy as shape keys.

About Karan Shah : he uses UV warp modifier which is purely based on the UV mapping. So that does not change the 3D (or 2D) geometry. Also, in this approach, you cannot mix the effect of two bones (and shape keys can be mixed). If we want to compare shape keys effect on the face of a Manuel Lab character to UV warp effect for Karan Shah, you'll see that for each shape keys combination (for ML), you may need one texture part (for KS).

After that, maybe something new could be invented... I don't know.

  • $\begingroup$ That helps. Would there be any way to make a Pose Library with shape keys? Sort of like game command bindings? $\endgroup$
    – user22447
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 19:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Darknaviexe, what do you aim to do ? This question is the opposite of your initial question... $\endgroup$
    – lemon
    Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 5:30
  • $\begingroup$ I want to generate a pose library, but for 3D models, not just 2D pieces. I previously believed I could achieve this in the same manner Karan Shah did, but I find I would need an approach enlisting the use of Shape Keys. I believe this starts with recording pose animations, just like using a Dope Sheet, NLA editor and action editor, featuring keyframes, but I also want to make sure clothing follows the general movements, requiring Gradient Weight Painting. $\endgroup$
    – user22447
    Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 7:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Darknaviexe, shape keys cannot replace bones, as shape keys are not relative to other shape keys (but bones are relative to their parent). So you may need a lot (really a lot) of shape keys to 'redo' all relative positions of the bones. Also shape keys do not rotate (the transition 0 to 1 of a SK is linear). But the two can be used in complement (for instance here : youtube.com/watch?v=f3JWNIkwBZ8). $\endgroup$
    – lemon
    Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 7:39

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