One of the many benefits of animating in Maya is the large and growing global community of artists who collaborate on freeware projects, bringing to life excellent animation rigs like Norman and Morpheus. The latest free character rig to be released looks like being The Mery Project - available to Maya users very soon.
To find The Mery Project, go to http://www.meryproject.com. Below is a short video explaining how it all works:
Mery Project Presentation from Mery Project on Vimeo.
In the meantime, here is a list of some of the rigs that we recommend our students use, and which we think are the best for animation training. They are all free to use, though their creators should always be credited. Industry professionals always give credit where it is due.
- Bouncing Ball. The best place for beginners to start learning animation. You will have to register with Creative Crash first, but it's free and they don't send spam.
- Ultimate Rigs. A great collection of free rigs.
- Monty. Our favourite simple biped rig - perfect for learning animation.
- Norman. An excellent biped rig, very stable and thoroughly tested. Norman can be adapted and customised.
- Heavy. Based on the character from the video game Team Fortress. An excellent, stable rig.
- Morpheus. Arguably the best free rig for character performance. Very adaptable. Not for beginners though.