Deformable 3D models can be represented either as traditional explicit surfaces, such as triangulated meshes, or as implicit surfaces. Explicit surfaces are widely accepted because they are simple to deform and render, but fitting them involves minimizing a nondifferentiable distance function. By contrast, implicit surfaces allow fitting by minimizing a differentiate algebraic distance, but are harder to meaningfully deform and render. Here, we propose a method that combines the strength of both approaches. It relies on a technique that can turn a completely arbitrary triangulated mesh, such as one taken from the Web, into an implicit surface that closely approximates it and can deform in tandem with it. This allows both automated algorithms to take advantage of the attractive properties of implicit surfaces for fitting purposes and people to use standard deformation tools they feel comfortable for interaction and animation purposes. We demonstrate the applicability of our technique to modeling the human upper-body, including face, neck, shoulders, and ears, from noisy stereo and silhouette data.