Monday, 27 January 2020

Horse Animation - Free Maya Rigs

Right now we're encouraging all our animation students at Animation Apprentice to make sure they have plenty of horse animation on their demo reels, as one of our favourite London studios crews up for a big horse-related project.

The Animation Apprentice official site (to which all our students have access) has a series of horse video tutorials, teaching students how to animate a walk, a trot and a run.

Rhett the Clydesdale
Quadruped locomotion
Learning to animation quadrupeds is one of the key skills animators must master here at Animation Apprentice. Much of the animation being done in London is animal and creature work; such as the stunning animation of Disney's re-make of The Lion King, most of it completed at MPC in Soho.

Horse Rigs
Below are some recommendations on horse rigs which are free to download.

Rhett the Clydesdale rig
The horse locomotion videos at Animation Apprentice use the free Rhett the Clydesdale rig, which you can download here. If you want to follow the tutorials click for click, use the Rhett rig. But you can also try some of the rigs shown below.

Samson Horse Rig by Joel
Horse Rig by Joel 3D
We also like the Samson Horse Rig by Joel 3D, available for free download here.
The horse rig is based on the character "Samson" from Disney's 1950s classic Sleeping Beauty.

The rig is an elegant design, with few major weaknesses. We've tested it in the classroom and it works well.  The model was created by Hung Vodinh and the rigging was done by Joel Anderson.

To get the best use of Samson, make sure you click on the little blue cross labelled FKIKSpine_M and, in the Channel Box, change FKIKBlend to 10. This will give you more flexible control over the shoulders and backside of the horse.

Animation with Samson Rig

Above is some excellent wild horse animation by Animation Apprentice graduate Giuseppe Candido, based on live-action reference.

Horse Rig by Mothman TD
horse rig by Mothman TD
We also like this horse rig available for free download from the Mothman TD website.

It's an excellent choice for animating quadruped locomotion, a useful alternative to the (also very good) Rhett the Clydesdale rig.

Real time playback
You should, in theory, be able to get real-time playback with the Mothman TD rig without difficulty.

One very useful feature of the Mothman rig is a knee bend control, which (unlike the Rhett the Clydesdale horse rig) allows you to fine-tune the position of the legs, getting rid of unwanted knee bends. Meanwhile, keep an eye out for over-stretching the legs.

Rhett has one big advantage over this horse rig - no tail. Not having a tail means less animation to deal with, though if you have the time and inclination then the tail does give the opportunity to create an attractive overlapping action. It does mean extra work though.

Gorgeous George Rig by Dmitri Kolpakov
One horse rig that looks worth trying is Gorgeous George, by Dmitri Kolpakov, available for $15 from Gumroad.

Horse Locomotion Tutorials at Animation Apprentice
To find the horse locomotion videos, login to the official Animation Apprentice website at

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 comment:

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