Digital Double Anatomy

by | Apr 5, 2017 | Digital Double

Digital Double Anatomy

All Digital Doubles consist of a few basic organs. The first one is Skin, second is Skin Deformer and the third one is Skin Deformer Control Rig.

The Skin is the visible outer layer of a Digital Double. This is the layer that we, as the audience, see. We see it's shape, it's color, material and fabric. We know and recognise this layer, we feel it with our eyes. We know it is either alive or dead. We can instantly tell if there's something wrong with it. Whether it is young or old, sick or healthy. by the way it looks and by the way it folds.

The Skin Deformer is the invisible layer of a Digi-Double. It drives the Skin either through the use of Bones or in combination with other types of Deformers: Morph Targets (Artistic Interpretation), Muscle Dynamics Simulations(Scientifically Derived physical simulation of soft-body dynamics.).

The Skin Deformer Control Rig is that which controls the logic of interaction between the Skin, Muscle System and Morph Targets. It is a mechanism of arbitrage and controls which systems takes control of a particular skin region of a Digital Double.


Digital Skin

Digital Double Skin

What is captured during the 3d scanning session is a state of a person at a point in time, their wrapper, their digital skin.

That initial state gets broken down into different effect dimensions, depending on the complexity of the requested output. To cover some ground here, let me introduce you to the list: Geometry: Topology; Shaders: SSS; Textures: Albeido, Reflectance, Normal, Displacement, Micro-detail, Bloodflow, Wrinkle; Heads: Facial Effects; Body Effects; Skin Deformers: Skeleton, Bones, Muscle, BlendShape Targets, Corrective Blends, Sticky lips, Soggy Bottoms; Hair: Hair Grooms, Peach Fuzz, Stubble; Cloth: Cloth Dynamics; and other Creature FX.

Out of the ones listed above, a digital sculptor should only be interested in some of the initial effect dimensions for now. They are digital Skin Geometry; Skin Colour, Oiliness; and Default Personality.


Skin Deformer

Skin Deformers

3D Applications have a few basic types of skin deformers which artists can utilise to drive skin deformations. Some of them are: Joints/Bones, Clusters, Sculpt Deformers and Blend Targets.

The main of the ones listed above is Joints and Bones deformer. This type of deformer is of interest to us due to its hierarchical nature, where the position of a parent (shoulder) drives the child (elbow). This will enable us to easily move whole chunks of Skin by simply rotating the parent joint.

Using only Joint and Bone deformers will never be enough for realistic deformations due to their lack of shape control in areas where the deformation is happening. That is why we must add to our stack of deformers a yet another type to compensate and correct for undesirable transitions: Blend Shapes and Morph Targets.


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Best Regards,

Ruslan Vasylev

Ruslan Vasylev



Professional 3D Modeler with 17 years of combined VFX and Games experience, managing Vancouver-based 3D Scanning Studio,

Servicing Visual Effects for Film, Television, Games and Virtual Reality production studios.