I would like to animate a mesh's geometry without using shape keys. Is this possible?
Yes, you can do this very easily by using the AnimAll addon. "AnimAll" stands for "Animate All" because it enables you to animate many things that cannot normally be animated in Blender.
Here's how to use it:
First, open your User Preferences:
Info header → File → User Preferences
Click on "Addons" and in the search box, type animall, then enable it by clicking on the Enable Addon checkbox on the far right hand side of the addon:
(NOTE: If you want to keep AnimAll enabled, click Save User Settings before closing the Preferences window)
Now select the mesh you'd like to animate and go into Edit mode.
Now in the Tools panel (T), find the AnimAll section and enable Points -- this will allow you to animate the vertices of your mesh:
(NOTE: If you are using 2.70, AnimAll will be in the Animation tab in the Tools panel. If you are using 2.69, it will be down at the very bottom of the Tools panel)
In the Timeline window, make sure the green frame cursor is set to the frame you want the animation to begin. Here, it's set to frame 1:
Now in the AnimAll options, click the Insert (Keyframes) button.
(NOTE: This will insert keyframes for every single vertex in the mesh, regardless of whether they are selected or not, so if the mesh has lots of vertices, it may take a while before Blender is done inserting all the keyframes)
In the Timeline window, move to the next important frame in your animation. Here, I'm moving to frame 75:
Now alter your mesh's vertices as you like:
Now insert keyframes for the vertices by again clicking Insert (Keyframes) button in AnimAll.
Now exit Edit mode and you can preview your animation by either clicking the Play button ( ) in the Timeline window or with ALTA:
NOTE: The tutorial video on this page describes how to use all the many other powerful features of AnimAll.
Animation in blender, there are lots of options.
- You could use shape keys (they are very good for this kind of thing, but you don't want to so some other options)
- You could rig the mesh and then animate the bones.
- You could add hooks to part of your mesh, and then animate the hook.
- If you have a very dense mesh, then add a lattice modifier and add the hooks to the lattice.
- Or use a mesh deform modifier and add the hooks to the cage mesh.
- For a different kind of control, add a curve modifier to the mesh, and again add hooks to the curve handles.
- You could use a displacement modifier and animate the texture.
- The AnimAll Addon is another option
- For any of the modifiers you can add and animate a vertex group to get more control.
There are more ways to animate meshes in blender, but this is just a sample. It should be noted that if you don't mind animating in edit mode, that the AnimAll addon can be used to save a step in place of the hooks in the above methods. If you would like more detail on any of these methods leave a comment.
Use the Hook tool. In edit mode, select a vertice, press Ctrl+H> Hook to New Object.
You can then easily animate the location of the Hook empty.
You can also go to the mesh being deformed and add a vertex group if you want to have easy control of what vertices go where. Notice that you can also manually add hooks using the Hook modifier.
One important thing to notice:
The hook modifier stores vertex indices from the original mesh to determine what to effect; this means that modifiers that generate geometry, like subsurf, should always be applied after the hook modifier; otherwise the generated geometry will be left out of the hook's influence.
You could also use bones and weight paint: