Sunday, 4 September 2016

Meet the Mery Rig!

Meet Mery! We're recommending this excellent character rig (with some reservations) for use by our students at Animation Apprentice.

Mery is now live and available to download, and - best of all - is completely free.

One of the many benefits of animating with Autodesk Maya is the large and growing global community of artists who collaborate on freeware projects, bringing to life excellent animation rigs like this one.

Where can students download Mery?
To find The Mery Project, go to Below is a short video explaining how Mery works:

Mery Project Presentation from Mery Project on Vimeo.

Who created Mery?
Mery was created by Jose Manuel García Alvarez and Antonio Méndez Lora.

What are the terms of use?
Mery comes with a few restrictions. You are permitted to use Mery for animation practice and educational purposes, and in your demo reel, portfolio and on your website.

But, you cannot use the character rig or any part of it for commercial purpose, such as short films, movies or any content with financial gain. Also, you can't use the character rig to create any pornographic, sexually explicit, violent, racist or otherwise immoral content. 

How should you credit Mery?
You must give the appropriate credits for "" in your work, by putting the credits into the video or the description.

File size
Mery's file sizes tend to be very large - around 300mb - which makes her a little cumbersome. Part of that size seems to be caused by multiple wrap deformers for the many clothing options she has hidden away.

Make sure you do a proper tech check before you animate with Mery. Can you get real-time playback in your viewport? If not, you might want to pick a lighter, faster rig.

Where are Mery's facial controls?
The face controls are located - slightly oddly - far to the left above the character. To animate her facial controls, create a new face camera and parent it to the facial controls. Then, tear off the camera so you have a separate window with the facial controls easily accessible. To do this, select your face camera and then go to panels/tear off to tear off the face controls as a separate camera view.

Facial expressions
Mery's eyes can be hard to get expressions from. She tends to have a slightly "wide eyed" look, where the eyelids move but her cheek area does not move very well. Make sure you can get the expressions you need out of Mery before you commit to animating a shot with her.

Mery playback problems in newer versions of Maya
Anyone using the Mery rig that's having problems with random deformations even after keying (especially with her knees deciding to pop all over the place), in your scene, try going to WNIDOWS > SETTINGS/PREFERENCES > PREFERENCES.
Look for the "Settings" entry and find the "Animation" options under that - the top option there is "Evaluation Mode". If this is Parallel try switching it to DG.
Short cut is to simply enter...
evaluationManager -mode "off" the MEL line at the bottom of the screen.
*Hopefully* if you now scrub through you should see the poses you set to begin with.

Mery animation
To see some excellent animation done with Mery by Escapee Henry Fenwick, now working at Jellyfish Pictures, see the video below. The shot was created as part of the monthly 11 Second Club competition.

Also check out this excellent animation by one of our online MA students, Jinng Hwee Tan.

What other rigs do we recommend?
Of course, there are many other free rigs that are excellent and well-proven for character animation. Don't forget that their creators should always be credited.
  1. 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.
  2. Ultimate Rigs. A great collection of free rigs.
  3. Monty. Our favourite simple biped rig - perfect for learning animation. 
  4. Norman. An excellent biped rig, very stable and thoroughly tested. Norman can be adapted and customised.
  5. Heavy. Based on the character from the video game Team Fortress. An excellent, stable rig.
  6. Morpheus. An excellent free rig for character performance, and very adaptable. Not for beginners.

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.


  1. I'm here a few years late but still, such an informative post. This was incredibly helpful, thank you so much!

  2. Problem with mery hands and elbow