Friday, 14 November 2014

The Best Free Rigs for Learning to Animate in Maya

Morpheus - endlessly flexible
We do not design and build our own rigs here at Bucks - there are just too many excellent free rigs and sets provided by Maya enthusiasts for student use. We point our students to the very best freeware rigs from the web and show you where to find them. In the end though, it is up to our students to find the rigs that they most enjoy animating with. There are so many; all have their strengths and weaknesses. Below is a list of some of the best, and where to find them.

The Marvellous Monty

The marvellous Monty by Raveen Rajadorai. A green pea with legs, and the perfect rig for learning animation. We recommend him for animating locomotion, like walks runs and jumps. His long legs make him very flexible and easy to use.

Morpheus by name, Morpheus by nature

Josh Burton's excellent Morpheus rig is a great rig for acting and performance. This stunning rig has a few quirks (the textures are a little tricky to use) but it is very flexible and adaptable and gets great results.
For sets and props we use the many free assets available at the excellent website Turbosquid,
and also, which has tons of free stuff. 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.

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.

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.

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

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. 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 - you are simply wasting your time.

For more on the experience of studying at Bucks New University, come and visit us at one of our Open Days,  take a virtual tour of one of our animation studios, check out what our students think of our course, and see why we're ranked in the top 12 creative universities in the UK. Find out why we're giving free laptops to all our students, and why we give all our students free access to videos at Also, see what financial assistance might be available to you. Learn which is better for animation, a PC or a Mac? Get hold of a copy of a map so you can find your way around campus, and learn about motion capture at Bucks.

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