Friday, 8 September 2017

aTools - The Animator's Swiss Army Knife

aTools - "The ultimate free utility belt for Maya Animators"
aTools is a free download for Maya that describes itself as "The ultimate free utility belt for Maya animators."

aTools was created by Portuguese animator Alan Camilo, and is extremely useful for all kinds of animation tasks in Maya.

What is aTools?
aTools is a free plugin for Autodesk Maya. It makes your work flow faster, and it is very easy to install - just drag and drop it into your Maya viewport.

Where to find aTools
Right here. You will download two files, a mel script (i.e. a bit of Maya code) and a "read me" document.

What does aTools do?
All kinds of stuff. It enables you to easily select sections of a character rig quickly, and it also does what the super-useful Tween Machine tool does. The term "utility belt" is a pretty good one. It's like a Swiss Army knife for Maya - lots of handy tools in one convenient place.

How to install aTools
Just drag the file "aTools_install.mel" into maya's viewport. A toolbar will appear with lots of little icons in it.  Now it's time to test out what all those little icons do.  To see how aTools works in detail, you will need to spend 30 minutes watching the video below. It's worth it - it will save you time in the long run.

Who is Alan Camilo?
Alan Camilo is a Portuguese animator who works as a senior animator in Vancouver, British Columbia. He created aTools.

Nudge Tool
One of the most useful features of A Tools is a "nudge" tool, which allows you to select your keys and then "nudge" them all one keyframe (or, as many keyframes as you like) to the right, or left, in the Graph Editor. When you are selecting lots of keys in a big, complex scene, this is a really useful tool.

Mirror Tool
It also has a mirror tool allowing to copy the values on, say a leg or an arm, and mirror image it to the opposite limb - super useful if you are animating a walk or run cycle.

Thank you Alan Camilo for an excellent tool.


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