Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Norman Rig - How to Use It

There are many free rigs available to Maya animators hoping to practice and learn their craft. Norman, Max, Morpheus - all excellent rigs available at no charge and easy to download, all free for non-commercial use.

But beware - all rigs are different and each one has its own quirks. All take time to get used to, and each one has its frustrations.  Norman was one of the first character rigs made available for student use, free on a non-commercial license. Norman is reliable, relatively simple to use, and highly customisable.

first, read the manual. 
Who is Norman?
Norman is a Maya rig built unofficially for the AAU (Academy of Art University) Pixar Classes. Norman was exclusive to AAU Students and intellectual property of AAU.

The Pixar Classes are now disbanded and the creators have released it to the public under a non-commercial licensing agreement.

How does Norman work?
Unusually, Norman comes with a very detailed 24 page how-to manual. You can find a free copy here. Make sure to read it! It explains how to turn on Norman's controls, and how to get the best use out of the rig.

Where are Norman's controls?
Norman comes in without any controls turned on. You have to switch them on. To turn on his feet controls, you first of all have to select the viz control by his feet. Turn the 0s to 1s in the channel box and the controls will all turn on. Once the controls are on, select the EX control and go to the IK/FK switcher in the channel box. Set this to 1. Now you have the IK controls on Norman’s feet turned on. But, again, read the manual!

Norman Eye Control
Eye Controller Settings
You may have to adjust Norman's eye direction control (named ctrlIK_Cn_Eye), so that Norman's eyes will still follow the Eye Control even when you rotate the head. Look in the eye direction control and tweak the settings in the Channel Box; make sure that "Follow" is set to 1. This way the eyes will follow the Eye Control.

Create a Face Camera
We recommend always creating a Face Camera when you animate characters in Maya. To do this, follow these steps. Creating a camera, name it faceCam, and parent it to the facial controls. Then tear it off (Panels/tear off) so you can return to the faceCam whenever you need it. This will save you a lot of time when animating facial expressions. To see this process in more detail, watch the video below:

Norman walk-through

Where can I see some Norman animation?
For more animation examples visit the AAU Character Animation Blog.

More information
Click here for the Norman official site, where you can download the rig and the manual.

Customised Norman
Follow this link to find tons of customised Norman rigs. It's a great resource.

Arnold-compatible Norman
As of March 2019 we have a version of Norman which is Arnold-ready, without those pesky Mental Ray nodes. Email us for a copy


To find out more about Animation Apprentice, click here for a link to Frequently Asked Questions. To sign up for our next classroom at Animation Apprentice, follow this link.

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