What breathes life into an embodied agent or avatar? While body motions such as facial expressions, speech and gestures have been well studied, relatively little attention has been applied to subtle changes due to underlying physiology. We argue that subtle pulse signals are important for creating more lifelike and less disconcerting avatars. We propose a method for animating blood flow patterns, based on a data-driven physiological model that can be used to directly augment the appearance of synthetic avatars and photo-realistic faces. While the changes are difficult for participants to "see", they significantly more frequently select faces with blood flow as more anthropomorphic and animated than faces without blood flow. Furthermore, by manipulating the frequency of the heart rate in the underlying signal we can change the perceived arousal of the character.