Thursday, 31 December 2020

Best Rigs for Animation in Maya

Morpheus - endlessly flexible
What are the best rigs to use when creating your own animation in Maya?

There are many excellent free rigs and sets provided by Maya enthusiasts for student use, and many others available for just a few dollars. 

So what are the very best freeware rigs, and how can you find them?  Below is a list of some of the best, and how to get the best out of them.

The Marvellous Monty

For beginners, we recommend starting with the marvellous Monty by Raveen Rajadorai.  A green pea with legs, Monty is the perfect rig for learning animation. 

We recommend him for animating locomotion, such as walks, runs and jumps. His long legs make him very flexible and easy to use. You can find out more about Monty here
"Morpheus" by Josh Burton

Josh Burton's excellent Morpheus rig is a great rig for acting and performance.  This rig has a few quirks (the textures are a little tricky to use) but it is very flexible and adaptable and gets great results. We have an updated version of the rig which is optimised for the Arnold Renderer - email us and we will send you a copy.
Props and Sets
For sets and props we use the many free assets available at the excellent website Turbosquid,  and also, which has plenty of free (and almost free) resources.  We always recommend that our students set the scene, and create a set. It helps you imagine what is taking place, and helps create an interesting environment.

11 Second Club Resources Page
Animators can also consult the Resources page of The 11 Second Club. The Club runs a monthly animation competition, which we strongly recommend all our students enter. Their Resources page lists the rigs that they recommend, and we don't disagree with any of their picks. They are all solid and reliable, and deliver the goods when it comes to character performance and dialogue.

Lesterbanks Blog
Another very useful page is this blog post by LesterBanks, a few years old, but still a great list of fantastic free rigs available online.

Animation Buffet
Finally, don't forget Animation Buffet, which again lists some of the best free resources out there.

Rig Reviews
To find more Maya rigs, and see our reviews of rigs, follow this link. We regularly test out the best rigs out there, and write up our notes, to make sure that our students have access to the best available information. Recent rig reviews include Thep, Sam and Amy, David and Dana, and many others.  

Always Test Your Rig
The important thing to remember when you download a new rig is that all rigs have their quirks, and each one is unique. 

To be sure your animation will come out OK, test your rig extensively and make sure it can do everything you need (this is known as "Rig Wrecking"). If necessary, get online and start asking questions in user forums. Not all rigs will do what you want them to. 

For example, if you are working on a dialogue shot, don't invest tons of time and effort in a rig that doesn't have facial expressions.


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