My primary task this afternoon was to get a working system for having a set of alien scales grow from the body of Ravine's main fish characters. To do this it was suggested to me to use blend-shapes, which I spent the afternoon working on in order to get the transformation right
The core idea was to create a layer that would go within the skin. This layer would fit to the body by being wrapped around using a lattice deformer. At the time a model was unavailable, so I made do with a sphere contorted into a rough shape to represent the fish's body. The final setup would need more precise positioning as the the idea is that the scales would grow from around the eyes and sweep towards the tail as they spread.
Because I was using blendshapes, I could not simply use the duplicate tool, as that would only duplicate the geometry of each scale and not the blendshape.
We may be able to simplify the visual appearance but this is the UV map of the scale. Structurally however I think I have stripped what I can without losing perceptual quality. Though I do wonder if smaller, lower-polygon versions would be useful at any point.