Rigs

New Luna Rig - FREE!

https://vimeo.com/208631027

New Luna Rig - FREE!

I have't tested it yet, but here is a new rig released by Adien Dendra.  Once I test it with my students and it passes, I will add it to the approved rig list.  Comment with your notes on how you think it works and strengths and weaknesses!

Looks to me like she can go off model quickly which makes it hard to teach with this rig with beginners.  Her fingers are designed poorly - too spread out and do not bend cleanly but maybe she would work well for body mechanics shots where fingers are not as important?

P.S. it comes with a shelf and GUI Picker


Black Tie Only | Marvel's Rocket & Groot | Disney XD

If you like this new show and want to try your hand at animation Rocket in maya.

Here is a rig!

Free Rocket Raccoon Character Rig

 


Thinking Animation - New Maya Rigs Section

Every day riggers are releasing more and more really well-done rigs for FREE! So, I have re-worked my Maya Rig section to accommodate.

The rigs listed in the Maya section on the left menu have all been tested at some point by myself and/or my students. These are the rigs I recommend.

I have separated the rigs by the level of detail and controls.

Don't forget to check out the RIGS FUNCTIONS LIST and INTRODUCTION, too.


Homer Simpson Maya Rig

Homer Simpson Maya Rig

This rig is really good and all of the math on it is clean.

I created a walk cycle to test, but left it at school.

Will add the walk cycle here once I have it rendered.

simpson-3d-rig-4

simpson-3d-rig-2

 


Fan Made Elsa Rig

Well this is one way to prove you got the chops to work on a feature.  Spiel Kind documented the entire process from modeling to rigging on a CG talk thread . He breaks down the rig by explaining how many blend shapes went into it… “27 blendshapes, which I divided up and/or mirrored into 90 total shapes. On top of that I also have a joint-rig though, which is responsible for the jaw/lips- and eyelid-setup.”


Free Ox Rig

Free Ox Rig

Download link: https://gum.co/xSma


Zootopia's Judy Hopps Free Blender Rig

Montreal, Canada based CG Artist - Scott Sewel has created a fully rigged high poly rendition of Judy from Zootopia movie in blender

 download FREE.


Tutorial: Walk Cycle Through Space

Tutorial: Walk Cycle Through Space - Angie Jones from angie jones on Vimeo.

To get the rig go here - http://www.creativecrash.com/maya/downloads/character-rigs/c/ultimate-walker

This tutorial explains how to create a walk cycle through space - NOT IN PLACE! . Learning how to create a walk cycle through space will save you a large amount of time when you have to make a character or create change momentum, climb, walk and run over uneven terrain.It also teaches you about the real weight shift in the body and feet for a walk.Ultimately, no one will care how you created your motion if it looks believable and is entertaining. If nothing else, you just might learn something by trying a new way to move your characters.

In the world of CG/VFX you will rarely be animating your characters over a flat ground plane. When I tell people working in production that I am teaching now, they all ask me to "please teach my students how to locomote a character through space." The "in place" cycle for locomotion using the top node for translating trick is great for video games or getting a quick crowd scene together, but teaches you nothing about real weight shifts and the math involved in creating a clean walk cycle. In addition, I find this method next to impossible to keep from sliding without setting a key on every frame.

When animation through space, you cannot cheat. Every part of the body is moving in relation to the other and pops and breaks in the motion will give you away if they are moving incorrectly.


New Free Rigs from Cogswell College

Caroline-Slides-1

Henry-Slides-1

Henry and Caroline are named after Cogswell College's founder and his wife

New free character rigs from the Digital Art and Animation students at Cogswell College in San Jose, as part of the school’s in-house character programme, Project Avatarah.

Caroline Rig

Henry Rig

Dragon Rig

cogswell_caroline

The bipedal characters feature full facial rigs, as well as detailed clothing control and secondary motion.

  • IK/FK switching for limbs and spine
  • Ability to change the parents of controls mid-animation using space-switching
  • Rotation orders are set up to reduce gimbal locks.

cogswell_henry
There are more free rigs on the way from Cogswell's students

Cogswell-Dragon-Title-Slider-1

You can also pick up Cogswell, a fantasy winged quadruped dragon character.

 

 


m/malcolmInfo.aspx

New Free Malcolm Rig is Online Today

Announcing: Today AnimSchool releases our Malcolm 2.0 rig to the general public!

AnimSchoolPickerBanner10

Malcolm 2.0 is a re-rigged version of our popular Malcolm rig, now with lots of wardrobe and hairstyle options.

To download Malcolm 2.0, visit http://www.animschool.com/DownloadOffer.aspx
Note the Terms of Use

www.animschool.com


Boutique23 Character Rigs

Animation Mentor Partnership with Boutique23

 

Too Body Controls

TRE3Body Controls

Fift Body Controls

 

Animation Mentor Partnership with Boutique23

 

 

 


Mr Buttons

New Free Rig - Mr. Buttons

 

I haven't had a chance to truly test this rig yet, but I will be introducing it to my students to see how solid it is.  By the looks of this demo, it's seems very flexible!  I will this rig to the "Rigs That Don't Suck" section once it has been tested.

Downloads


Free Johnny Rig

RIG REVIEW: 3 Stars - Johnny Rig - FREE

Redd The Clown Stamp Of ApprovalThe Johnny Rig

“Missing some important controls, appealing design.”

 3 Stars! –  Get it here

After using this rig with my students, I realize it needs some major work… especially on the arms. The arms twist inside out when translated.  Not good.  if the rigger wants help making it better, just contact me.  I have taken this rig off my list of recommended rigs to use.
Pros: Basics
  • Robust body and facial controls.
  • Controls for individual fingers.
  • Controls directly on the face, NO GUIS!
  • Switches for IK and FK on neck, limbs and spine located on hips.
  • Twist for pole vectors. There are no pole vectors! Yay!
  • Smooth version can be “proxied down,” control on top node.
  • Global scale
Pros: Extras that mean a lot to an animator
  • Stretchy IK and S & S on the head.
  • Lots of deformers on the rig you can turn on to get shapes
Cons: Deal breakers
  • His arms twist up like tootsie rolls with the IK
  • He has no tongue!  Facial will be difficult!  Could be fairly easy to build one and put one in. I might do this.
  • No dynamic parenting switches for local and global spaces for all limb IK and FK
  • No FK spine, newbie animators are confused and make bad shapes with IK spine.
  • No pins for elbows and the knees
  • Deformations at toe is unforgiving.
  • Neck and head mimic a FK follow mode, but there really needs to be another control at the neck.  It’s really just chest and head.
  • No visibility for the control.  there are entirely too many controls to not be able to turn off the deformers to get some basic use out of this rig.
Cons: Extras
  • No costume or gender changes.
  • The shoulder design is too slumpy and makes it difficult to shrug.
  • No soft eye resolver. Who cares?
  • Crossed eyes, why!!!  Have to uncross unless you want this look.
  • No foot roll break, this control might help with the toe.
  • Teeth controls are inside the head and hard to access.
  • No gimbal lock controls
  • No picker or GUI.
  • No rotational order switches.


Constraints

Learning - Constraint Tutorials

Constraint Demo 1: The Basics from David Latour on Vimeo.

The first video in a series explaining how an animator uses basic constraints within Maya for manipulating props and characters.

Constraint Demo 2: Prop to Hand from David Latour on Vimeo.

A five minute video showing how to set up a basic prop to hand constraint. Uses Josh Burton's Morphy rig.

Constraint Demo 3: Hand to Prop from David Latour on Vimeo.

A 4 minute video showing how to set up a constraint in Maya that allows you to drive a character's hand with a prop.

Constraint Demo 4: Two Hands to Prop from David Latour on Vimeo.

Fourth video in the series, showing how to set up a 2-handed constraint in Maya that would drive the character's hands

Constraint Demo 6: Tumbles and Swings from David Latour on Vimeo.
Using constraints in Maya it is possible to create complex animations very easily. By setting up a simple stack of offset objects, you can alter the pivot point of a character to make animating swings and tumbles easy and intuitive. By baking the animation, you are able to easily edit the results. This demo uses Josh Burton's Morpheus Rig.

Constraint Demo 5: Two Hand Hybrid from David Latour on Vimeo.
This video shows how to set up a two hand hybrid constraint, where one hand drives a prop and the second-hand acts as a child of that prop. Uses Josh Burton's Morphy rig.

 


Hare Rig

RIG REVIEW: 4 Stars - Hare Rig - Cartoony with Finicky Deformations

Redd The Clown Stamp Of ApprovalThe Hare Rig

“Nice rig, easy to animate.  Great for body mechanics.”

☆ 5 Stars! –  Get it here

This rig, much like the Zombie, doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles but what it does have works.  I would use it for body mechanics rather than acting shots.
Pros: Basics
  • Robust body and minimal facial controls.
  • Controls for individual fingers.
  • Controls directly on the face, NO GUIS!
  • Switches for IK and FK on neck, limbs and spine each controller.
  • Dynamic parenting switches for local, hip, chest and global spaces on all limbs IK and FK.
  • Neck and head switch to FK space.
  • Pins for elbows and the knees.
  • Control visibility switches
  • Global scale
Pros: Extras that mean a lot to an animator
  • Stretchy IK, but no S & S on the head.
  • Lots of deformers on the rig you can turn on to get shapes
Cons: Deal breakers
  • No FK spine, makes things hard to teach and gets nice shapes.
  • No twist for pole vectors.
  • No proxy, but the rig is pretty fast.
Cons: Extras
  • No costume or gender changes.
  • No S & S on head.
  • No foot roll value.  Foot roll is actually a translate on a control.  Weird but I did a walk cycle with it, so it works.
  • No soft eye resolver. No big deal.
  • Teeth and tongue controls that are inside the head, harder to select.
  • No limb visibility controls.
  • No sub controls on limbs to handle constraining objects.
  • No GUI Picker.
  • No rotational order switches.


Kayla and Kyle Rig

RIG REVIEW: 5 Stars - Kayla and Kyle Rigs by Josh Sobel - Appealing and Robust!

Redd The Clown Stamp Of Approval

The Kayla (Kyle) Rig

“Appealing design, can age from 6-16, really impressive.”

☆ 5 Stars! –  Get it here

Pros: Basics
  • Robust body and facial controls.
  • Controls for individual fingers.
  • Controls directly on the face, NO GUIS!
  • Switches for IK and FK on neck, limbs and spine each controller.
  • Dynamic parenting: Basic switches for local, hip, chest and global spaces on all limbs IK and FK.
  • FK/IK Spine.
  • Neck and head switch to FK space
  • Twist for pole vectors.
  • Pins for elbows and the knees.
  • Smooth version can be “proxied down,” control on top node.
  • Control visibility switches
  • Global scale
  • Sub Controls on limbs to handle constraining objects.
Pros: Extras that mean a lot to an animator
  • Costume changes:
    • The most impressive control is the age control.  It proportionally grows limbs to make the character age 6-16.
    • There is a male version of the little girl named Kyle
      • Can modify rig:
      • change her hair
  • Stretchy IK and S & S on the head.
  • Lots of deformers on the rig you can turn on to get shapes
  • Controls for constraining objects to limbs.
  • Rotational order switches.
  • Can turn limbs off for animating in layers!  This is the only free rig I have seen with this.
  • Picker GUI.  It’s actually a shelf and he gives you three as long as you name the namespace for the reference Kayla, Kayla 1 and Kayla 2 it will work.
Cons: Deal breakers
  • Math between hips and feet are wrong so if you cycle a walk through space more than five times, the rig will limp.  This makes her very hard to teach a walk cycle with but for shots with limited body mechanics it might not matter.  her hips move in units of 10 and her feet move in units of 1.  Weird.
Cons: Extras
  • No Foot roll break value.
  • Teeth and tongue controls that are inside the head so hard to select. Easy workaround, just make a button or a pickr.
  • I couldn’t find a soft eye resolver.  I personally think this is for lazy animators, but many anims like it.
  • She/he can go off model really fast, difficult for newbie animators.
  • Eyes are crossed.  Makes it hard to animate if they are already crossed.

*** You can see what this rig is my favorite.  It has the shortest list of cons.


TAM: The Animator's Modeler

TAM: The Animator's Modeler

Customize your own rig, then export it as an OBJ, FBX or MA file.

The app is $25 and you get two rig exports with that.

If you want more you have these pricing options:

1 additional export $11.99
3 additional exports $29.99
5 additional exports $39.99
15 additional exports $49.99
25 additional exports $59.99

If you grab the $60 one that's around $2.4 per rig! Not bad!


Jin and Joe Rig

RIG REVIEW: 5 Stars! - Jin and Joe Rigs from One one One Animation - Great For Body Mechanics

Redd The Clown Stamp Of Approval

The Jin and Joe Rigs

“Appealing design, great for body mechanics work.”

☆ 5 Stars! –  Get it here

Pros: Basics
  • Robust body controls. Holy cow there are a lot of controls!  I would request a way to turn some if these off to avoid confusing newbie animators.
  • Controls for individual fingers, kind of.  This is weird choice, but there is an independent control for the knuckles, but everything underneath is an attribute.  I prefer controls for each digits and then attr’s if you want them.
  • Facial is very limited with only blendshape driven attributes.
  • Switches for IK and FK on neck, limbs and spine each controller.
  • Basic switches for local, hip, chest and global spaces on all limbs IK and FK
  • FK/IK Spine
  • Neck and head switch to FK space
  • Twist for pole vectors
  • Pins for elbows and the knees
  • Teeth and tongue controls that are outside the head, easy to select.
  • Global scale
Pros: Extras that mean a lot to an animator
  • Costume changes:
    • Nice you get two rigs, one male and one female.
  • Stretchy IK and S & S on the head.
  • Lots of deformers on the rig you can turn on to get shapes
  • Gimbal lock controllers.
Cons: Deal breakers
  • Facial is VERY limited with old fashioned blendshape driven attributes.
  • No control visibility.  With this many controls they really need this.  You could create layers and turn things off and on possibly.
Cons: Extras
  • There is no proxy, but the rig is pretty fast.
  • I couldn’t find a soft eye resolver.  I personally think this is for lazy animators, but many anims like it.
  • Hip deformations are tricky for newbies.
  • No Foot roll break value. Not a big deal though.
  • No rotational order switches.  Again, I have never needed this.
  • No pickr or GUI.
  • No limb visibility for layering animation.


Mathilda Rig

RIG REVIEW: 5 Stars - Mathilda Rig by Leon Li-Aun Sooi and Xiong Lin - Very Advanced Rig

Redd The Clown Stamp Of Approval

Mathilda Rig

“Her facial goes to scary town quick.”

 4 Stars! –  Get it here

Pros: Basics
  • NOT a newbie rig.  Do not start using this rig unless you have animated a character before.
  • Robust body and facial controls, if in “experienced hands” are fine.
  • Controls for individual fingers.
  • Controls directly on the face, NO GUI.
  • Switches for IK and FK on each controller.
  • Dynamic parenting switches for local and global spaces for all limb IK and FK.
  • FK/IK Spine.
  • Neck and head switch to FK space.
  • Twist for pole vectors and you can turn pole vectors off.
  • Pins for elbows and the knees.
  • Control visibility switches.
  • Global scale.
Pros: Extras that mean a lot to an animator
  • Costume changes: Her shorts can look like a diaper.  It was easy to turn those off and attach a texture to look like leggings.  She also comes with a coat.
  • Stretchy IK and S & S on the head.
  • Foot roll break value.
  • Lots of deformers on the rig you can turn on to get shapes.
  • Soft eye resolver you can turn off and on.
  • Gimbal lock controllers.
  • Picker GUI.
Cons: Deal breakers
  • The deformer controls should be separate from the basic controls on the face.  It is very easy to make her look insane with the facial controls. By using my method of animating facial it is manageable, but this is tricky with newbie animators.
  • Her proportions are anime like and make it difficult to do drastic poses where limbs bend to their limit.  She is very spider-like.
Cons: Extras
  • Teeth and tongue controls that are inside the head, harder to select. No big deal, just use the picker.
  • No limb visibility controls that I could find.

** Still very impressive rig controls wise.  Her design and deformations need work to make it easier for a newbie to use.  I only recommend this rig to my more experienced animator


Mery Maya Rig

RIG REVIEW: 5 Stars! - Mery Rig - Most appealing female free Maya rig out there

Redd The Clown Stamp Of ApprovalThe Mery Project Rig

“Appealing female design, decent rig.”

☆ 5 Stars! –  Get it here

Pros: Basics
  • Robust body and facial controls.
  • Controls for individual fingers.
  • Controls directly on the face, NO GUIS!
  • Switches for IK and FK on neck, limbs and spine, located on each limb.  I prefer on the top node, but this is workable.
  • Dynamic parenting: Basic switches for local, hip, chest and global spaces on all limbs IK and FK. Ik Arms: Clavicle Head, Hip, Local and Object.
  • Neck Follow for Head, FK Neck –> Head solution
  • FK/IK Spine.  There is a strange placement between the spine controllers that doesn;t make a pretty curve, but you can work around that with the IK translates.
  • Pins for elbows and the knees.
  • Neck and head switch to FK space and to follow.
  • Smooth version can be “proxied down,” on “eye” control node.
  • Control visibility switches on the Picker.
  • Global scale.
  • Sub controls for constraints on the Picker.
Pros: Extras that mean a lot to an animator:
  • Costume changes: on the “eye” control near top node.
    • She has a few costume changes between shorts, skirt, and long pants.
  • Stretchy IK and S & S on the head.
  • Arc deformers and direct controls on limbs for cartoony.
  • Controls for constraining objects to limbs.
  • Limb visibility controls for animating in layers.
  • Comes with a picker GUI.
  • Rotational Order Switches.
Cons: Deal breakers
  • Facial is a GUI.  I personally hate GUIs because it’s like animating with a remote control and guessing what will happen.  It is also a very limited solution.  Nothing is worse than telling your director, “The rig can’t do that.”  She has controls on the tip of her nose and ears though, which is funny.  That would only move if you are screaming or doing something very drastic with facial.
  • No twist for pole vectors
  • Severe gimbal lock at the hips.  Be careful turning her around in a 180 degrees. No gimbal lock controls.  if you plan on doing something really physical with her add another control at the hips to handle gimbal.
Cons: Extras
  • No foot roll break value. This is a nice addition btu not critical if the rig doesn’t have it.
  • I couldn’t find a soft eye resolver.  I personally think this is for lazy animators, but many anims like it.
  • Teeth and tongue controls are hidden inside head, but you have the picker as a workaround.
  • She can go off model really fast, difficult for newbie animators.
  • Eyes are crossed.  Makes it hard to animate if they are already crossed.
  • No sub controls on limbs to handle constraining objects.


Zombie Rig

RIG REVIEW: 4 Stars - Sony Pictures Hotel T Zombie Rig Fun for Zany Shots

Redd The Clown Stamp Of ApprovalThe Zombie Rig

“Great for body mechanics, no much facial.”

 4 Stars! –  Get it here

I know this is a very short list, but the fun design and most important controls are there… so, it makes up for the limited control.

Pros: Basics

  • Very basic rig.
  • Controls for individual fingers.
  • Basic switches for IK and FK on each limb
  • Individual Finger controls
  • Neck Follow for Head, FK Neck –> Head solution
  • Control visibility switches.
  • Global Scale
  • Foot roll break value.
Pros: Extras that mean a lot to an animator
  • Costume changes:
    • He can be just bones with no clothes, kinda funny looking.
Cons: Deal breakers
  • No FK spine, newbie animators are confused and make bad shapes with IK spine.
  • Facial is VERY limited. No Tongue controls. No blinks.  He’s a zombie!  so does it matter?
  • No twist for pole vectors.
  • No Pins for elbows and the knees
Cons: Extras
  • No dynamic parenting switches for local and global spaces for all limb IK and FK.
  • No stretchy IK.
  • No pins for elbows and the knees.
  • No proxy, but he is so simple is it really needed? Maybe only if you had a crowd of Zombies.
  • No deformers to make additional shapes.
  • No S & S on head.
  • Cannot turn limbs off for animating in layers. But you could just put a transparent texture on the limbs temporarily, so there is a workaround.
  • No teeth and tongue controls.
  • I couldn’t find a soft eye resolver.Since he has no lids, this doesn’t matter.
  • No sub controls on limbs to handle constraining objects.


RIG REVIEW: 4 Stars - Body Mechanics Rigs by Joe Daniel - Good for Game and Action

Redd The Clown Stamp Of ApprovalThe Body Mechanics Mega Pack

“Great for body mechanics, no facial.”

 4 Stars! –  Get it here

Why only  4 Stars?

UPDATE 11.26.2014: The re-rigging of these puppets has been comprised by using the set-up machine.  The Body Mechanics Rig Pack were robust before using Rapid Rigger, but the guy who wrote Rapid Rigger will not allow anyone to use his plugin to resell a rig.  It’s unfortunate.

These rigs will get you halfway there, but if you are doing anything complicated… you will have to put some hours in.  The limitations of The Set-up Machine’s rigging system for the body cannot handle enough joints to create nice deformations, pins or complex switches.  This is why I am taking these rigs down from 5 to 4. I have run into issues when trying to teach with these rigs, but if the animator is experienced and is willing to push through you can get something nice going.

This is also why I am not a fan of the Long Winter Studio rigs because they use TSM for the body and TSM limits the controls and deformations. The Set-up Machine has an impressive toolset for facial rigging, but they really need to work on their body rigging toolset.  As you can see by the clips here, you can get some nice animation, but it takes effort.  Where there is a will there is a way.

The main issue I can find is the default spine. The IK spine in TSM make really ugly shapes.  My advice: turn on the FK spine and turn off all of the Ik controls on the top node and work from there and you can create appealing pleasing shapes. Quickly creating pleasing shapes is very important when teaching or just learning how to pose a CG character.

 Pros: Basics
  • If you can get your hands on the pre-The Setup machine rigs, then do so.  the deformations on the rapid rigger version is MUCH better!
  • Basic controls for body.
  • Controls for individual fingers.
  • Switches for IK/FK on each controller.
  • Dynamic Parenting: global space switches.
  • FK/IK spine.
  • Neck and head switch to FK space.
  • Pins for elbows and knees.
  • Control visibility switches.
  • Global scale.
Pros: Extras that mean a lot to an animator
  • Stretchy IK and S & S on the head.
  • Has a few deformers on limbs to create more shapes.
Cons: Deal breakers
  • No facial options at all. Would be nice to add at least some “Winnie the poo” style eyes.  I might do this for my students.
  • No FK spine, makes things hard to teach and gets nice shapes.
  • No twist for pole vectors.
  • No proxy, but the rig is pretty fast.
Cons: Extras
  • No costume or gender changes.
  • No S & S on head.
  • No foot roll value.
  • No soft eye resolver. No big deal.
  • No limb visibility controls.
  • No sub controls on limbs to handle constraining objects.
  • No GUI Picker.
  • No rotational order switches.


RIG REVIEW: 5 Stars - Animation Mentor Squirrel Rig

The new Squirrel Rig from Animation Mentor is about the most appealing and easy to use rig I have see out there for free!  All you have to do to get this rig as sign up here.

☆☆☆☆☆ 5 Stars - Animation Mentor Squirrel Rig  I give this rigs 5 Stars because it is solidly built, appealing and they provide extra tutorials to explain how to animate it and how to animate videos to create a hop with overlap.  Talk about going above and beyond. Remember to respect the rules and terms of use.

Get the Squirrel Rig Here

This rig gets the Redd the Clown stamp of approval!


EXTW Rigs

RIG REVIEW: 5 Stars - External World 65 Humorous Rigs for FREE!

Redd The Clown Stamp Of Approval

EXTW David O’Reilly Rigs (65)

“Appealing design, can age from 6-16, really impressive.”

☆ 5 Stars! –  Get it here

I feel like I have no right to critique anything about a man who hands out 65 rigs for free from his film.  I use these rigs to teach Intro to Animation in Maya because they are simple. Sometimes simplicity forces complexity.

 These rigs are downsized for the “glitch art/unstable new media” style popular in fine art circles so this would not be good for a demo reel to get a job in production, but these are great rigs to play with, learn animation and even create your own short films with.  The rigs are weird and wonderful.  I share these rigs with my freshman students at USC as a great introduction to CG.  If you spent a lot of time on rendering they could be useable for a fine art short film for your reel or game art.  Disney isn’t going to hire you though if you have these rigs on your reel.  they just are not complex enough.  but then again, that is not their purpose.  they are out there to inspire what can happen outside of mainstream animation!
I know what you are thinking.  How could this rig get 5 stars?  Well…
  1. There are 65 rigs
  2. The rigs do all of the basics you need to teach beginners how to animate a character
  3. the humor of these rigs gives the scoring a +50 points because I can get students completely scared of the computer to want to animate these characters.

Will animation on these rigs get you a job at Disney? Probably not, but they are fun and great for that short film you always wanted to do or if you just want to learn how to animate a character in Maya.

Pros: Basics
  • Basic body and facial controls.  Yes, these do have some facial on most all of the main character rigs.
  • Controls for individual fingers.
  • Switches for IK and FK limbs, some background rigs only have FK.
  • All FK spines.
  • Neck is only FK space
  • Control visibility switches
  • Global scale
Pros: Extras that mean a lot to an animator
  • Costume changes:
    • Some characters have props like a teddy bear, flowers or cigarettes.
  • Some characters have S & S on the head.
  • These rigs have a sense of humor, which inspires newbie anims.
Cons: Deal breakers
  • Frankly the only dealbreaker for me is the textures.  I have manually changed all of the textures on these rigs for my students to render in RenderMan with a basic Texture IBL.  They are lit with game vertex texturing which is quite confusing to anims who know nothing about textures.
  • Did I mention you get 65 very entertaining character rigs for FREE
  • No global space switches.
  • Some rigs are only FK.
  • The spine controls are only FK for those who like IK.
  • No twist for pole vectors.
  • No pins for knees and elbows.
  • No proxy, but these are game rez so not needed.
  • Some visibility controls on some rigs.
  • No sub controls on limbs to handle constraining objects.
Cons: Extras
  • No switches for local, hip, chest and global spaces on all limbs IK and FK
  • Twist for pole vectors. This is actually a controller at the shoulder which isn’t bad.  the main reason for a twist is to not have to hunt down the pole vectors.  Since this is attached, it works fine.
  • FK/IK Spine = Only FK
  • No foot roll bank value.  The foot roll is a translate which is weird, but doable.
  • No deformers to make other shapes.
  • No soft eye resolver but so what.
  • No limb visibility controls, but you could just put a transparent texture on the limbs temporarily, so there is a workaround.
  • No gimbal lock controllers.
  • No picker GUI.
  • No rotational order switches.


Animus Rig

RIG REVIEW: 3 Stars - Animus Rig

Download the Animus Rig
☆ 3 Stars - I cannot give this rig any higher than 3 stars because I just cannot get over the IK foot.  No toe or ball roll makes animating the feet really difficult.  But!  This is a solid create rig with a lot of controls that is fairly easy to figure out.

PINS:  This rig has pins which is a standard in the industry but I rarely find in most free rigs.  +10 points.

SPINE: Nice Ribbon/Isner spine. The COG is in the middle of his tummy where it should be for a quad. Horns on the spine all have individual controllers too!

FOOT/LEG: I do not understand why there is no ball and toe roll for the foot.  It would take a lot of counter animation to get the foot to simply compress and roll up on the toe. The individual toe controls for the foot must be IK to be useful.  I hate attributes for fingers and toes.  Attrs make it really hard to pose and manage the curves.  I am not sure why riggers keep making attrs for these.  Nice offsets to the IK leg for more control. Bending controls -be careful you can go way off model.

THE TAIL: The tail is impressive.  Many riggers try to create a crappy spline tail that goes off model too much. There are some nice offset controls that you can use in addition to the FK.  If you are lazy and want to use dynamics to control the tail there is a switch for that too.  This will only give you the body mechanics that are reactive to the primary motion, but the emotive tail work will have to be keyframed of course.

EXTRAS: Breathing control. Facial.  Most creature rigs do not have facial.  I hate GUI facial rigs instead of controls directly on the face. But at least you do have some facial there.

The rig is robust and animation can be made with it.  I just wish it had FK toes and fingers and a IK ball and toe roll.  I look forward to seeing some animation made with this rig.  here is one I found online.


 

It gets the Redd the Clown stamp of approval!

 


RIG REVIEW: 4 Stars - Free Rig from AM - Stewart!

In case you live under a rock and don't know, AM has released a really kewl rig, FOR FREE!

Stewart

☆ 4 Stars - I encourage my students to sign up and get this free rig at USC.  There is no facial, only 3 fingers, no toes... but it is a clean rig that is great for body mechanics and pantomime shots.


Update 10/29:  This rig has some serious gimbal lock issues on the shoulders.  There is a gimbal lock control there, but honestly... if you rig the character right, you shouldn't need that control at the shoulders for FK.  I still recommend the Eleven rig as the most reliable and solid free rig out there.  Plus, Eleven has facial and can change from a female to a male.


This rig gets the Redd the Clown stamp of approval!





Eleven Maya Rig

RIG REVIEW: 5 Stars! - Eleven Rig - Most reliable free Maya rig out there

Redd The Clown Stamp Of Approval

The Eleven Rig

“Best FREE rig, solid and reliable.”

☆ 5 Stars! –  Get it here

Pros: Basics
  • Robust body and facial controls.
  • Controls for individual fingers.
  • Controls directly on the face, NO GUIS!
  • Switches for IK and FK on neck, limbs and spine on top node, easy to find.  I love how all of the switches for this rig are on the top node.  I wish all riggers did this.  You go to one place to find everything.
  • Dynamics parenting: Basic switches for local, hip, chest and global spaces on all limbs IK and FK.  Eleven has many spaces for both IK and FK controls you can change.  So, if you want Eleven to walk with hands on hips, you switch the space and it’s done.  Nice!  Example spaces offered: Local, Chest, Head, Hip and Object for IK arms.
  • FK/IK Spine.
  • Twist for pole vectors and you can turn pole vectors off.
  • Pins for elbows and the knees.
  • Neck and head switch to FK space and to follow.
  • Smooth version can be “proxied down,” controls, on top node.
  • Control visibility switches.
  • Global scale.
Pros: Extras that mean a lot to an animator:
  • Costume changes:
    • Can turn the rig into male or female.
    • Can modify hairstyles, mustache, and eyebrows
    • Can modify rig completely:
      • change skin color with an attribute
      • change eye color with a switch
      • modify facial and body shape and proportions
      • I have had students turn eleven into a baby or an old man.
  • Stretchy IK and S & S on the head.
  • Lots of deformers on the rig you can turn on to get shapes
  • Soft eye resolver you can turn off, on and use at half measure.
  • Controls for constraining objects to limbs.
  • Teeth and tongue controls that are outside of the head for easy access.
Cons: Deal breakers
  • No Neck –> Head FK switch.  You are stuck with the chicken neck IK solution.  I really hate this, especially when teaching because it’s confusing to newbies… but everything on this rig is so solid, I forgive this one flaw.
Cons: Extras
  • No Foot roll break value.
  • No limb visibility switches. Cannot turn limbs off for animating in layers. But you could just put a transparent texture on the limbs temporarily, so there is a workaround.
  • Missing individual finger controls.  Only has attributes for the fingers. This is painful, but not the end of the world. Workaround = selections or a picker for easy access.
  • No gimbal lock controls.  I haven’t had trouble with gimbal on this rig though
  • No Picker or GUI.  Workaround = I made one.
  • No sub controls on limbs to handle constraining objects.
  • No Rotational Order Switches. I honestly have not ever used this in my entire career, but I guess it’s needed because it’s on most new rigs these days.




CG Meetup Minion Rig

RIG REVIEW: 4 Stars - Minion "Finnion" Rig by Dave at CGMeetup - Best for Snappy Animations

Redd The Clown Stamp Of ApprovalThe Minion Rig

“Charming, better for snappy animations.”

 4 Stars! –  Get it here

The way this rig was built it screams for snappy, pose to pose, cartoony motion.
Pros: Basics
  • Robust body and facial controls.
  • Controls for individual fingers.
  • Controls directly on the face, NO GUIS!
  • Switches for IK and FK on neck, limbs and spine each controller.
  • FK Spine
  • Neck and head switch to FK space
  • Pins for elbows and the knees
  • Smooth version can be “proxied down,” control on top node.
  • Control visibility switches
  • Global scale
  • Sub controls on limbs to handle constraining objects.
Pros: Extras that mean a lot to an animator
  • Costume changes:
    • You can take his hoodie off
    • He has a sword in the file you can constrain to his hand.
  • Stretchy IK and S & S on the head.
  • Lots of deformers on the rig you can turn on to get shapes
  • Soft eye resolver. You cannot turn it off though.
  • Teeth and tongue controls are outside of the head, easy to access.
Cons: Deal breakers
  • Deforms need work. Have to be very careful in the shoulder, groin and spine areas because he is like a marshmallow with toothpicks sticking out of his and the deforms go bad quickly.  Posing an appealing pose can take hours.  best for quick snappy animation… in and out of poses so no one sees the ugly.
  • No twist for pole vectors.
Cons: Extras
  • No dynamic parenting switches for local and global spaces for all limb IK and FK
  • Cannot  turn limbs off for animating in layers. But you could just put a transparent texture on the limbs temporarily, so there is a workaround.
  • No sub controls on limbs to handle constraining objects.
  • No limb visibility switches for animating in layers.
  • No gimbal lock controls.
  • No rotational order switches
  • No picker GUI.


Long Winter Studios

RIG REVIEW: 2 Stars - Long Winter Studios Rigs Are Really Bad

☆  2 Stars -  I cannot give this rig any more than 2 Stars because it has some serious issues.
DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY

Long Winter Studios has some new rigs for sale on their site. I was hoping to use them with my students at USC, but I asked for some specific revisions and Long Winter will not add the most basic of controls for teaching.

One of my MFA students paid the 75$ for the Tom rig to use on his shot for directed studies and we have learned a lot about what the rig is lacking.  The rig has a complicated arm solution that takes a while to understand how to use, so I will not be using these to teach with.

People working in production build their own rigs from scratch. The folks selling rigs online are creating assets for students and folks trying to learn how to animate. It is so important to follow how most arm and leg rigging is done in the industry on these rigs to make teaching easier.  If I have to explain some weird arm set-up to a student who has been using the usual IK/FK rig solution that most rigs use, it defeats the purpose of offering these rigs in the first place.

If you are animating a shot where the character has to lean on a table or bend down and keep a knee pinned, etc...?  Forget the Long Winter rigs.  My MFA student is keying every single frame of his shot to keep the elbows in place.

In my opinion, the character design of these rigs leaves a lot to be desired too.  Claire's legs are so far apart you have to work really hard to not make her look bow legged. Josh Sobel, Troung CG and the Animation School Malcolm Rig are way more appealing and easy to use and all are free or under 20$. Why would you pay upwards of 70$ for a rig that isn;t appealing and doesn't work right and the riggers don't care about their users?

Why do the Long Winter guys not understand how important a pin is?

Because they are using the set-up machine to rig the characters and it doesn't offer a way to make a pin.  The setup machine is one of the most limited tools I have ever seen for rigging. Professional riggers hate it.

As I said, the characters also need work on their appeal in character design, too.  Nothing is worse than watching so great animation and all you see is this really ugly character.  We, (myself and my MFA student) spent a lot of time using the controls to modify and scale things like the nose, fingers, head, ears, etc. to change the look of the character and get more appeal into the design.  At least you are able to do this... although I am pretty sure those controls were not designed to re-design the character.
This is not my favorite rig, but if you want to spend 75$ they have the rigs for sale here.

REDD THE CLOWN STAMP OF APPROVAL!

REDD THE CLOWN STAMP OF APPROVAL!
I added a rig section to the blog now (see at the top - Rigs That Don't Suck).
As an instructor, I am always looking for great rigs that are license free to use and hopefully FREE... Or, at least inexpensive ones.  I will be posting rigs that pass my approval after testing both on my own and in the classroom.  Only the rigs that are solid, flexible and easy to use will make this list.  I will also state any features or qualities of each rig here, so you know what you are getting before you download.
Submissions can be made at angie (at) thinkinganimation (dot) com
~ enjoy

Fish Boy Rig

RIG REVIEW: 4 Stars - Fish Boy Rig - Best for Close Up Acting

Redd The Clown Stamp Of Approval

Fishboy Rig

“Better for Close Up Acting Shots”

 4 Stars! –  Get it here

Fishboy has been around since I think about 2012.  He is not a terrible rig, but he is a rig for the more experienced because newbies tend to create really ugly shapes.
It’s fun that he has no structure to him like a flour sack, but I find students get frustrated trying to make the right shapes, especially with his spine.  I put a but of clips here though so you can see a nice performance can be made with this rig.  it just takes a lot of work.  I recommend going with a close up acting shot with fishboy.
Possibly the most basic rig you will find out there that still has enough appeal in character design that animators want to bring life to it.  This is a case where charm make-up for lack of rig.  Maybe one day someone will rework the rig?
Pros: Basics
  • Minimal body and robust facial controls.
  • Controls directly on the face, NO GUIS!
  • He has IK on the legs, but he is basically all FK.
  • FK Spine Only.
  • Neck is IK Only.
  • Smooth version can be “proxied down,” control on top node.
  • Control visibility switches
  • Global scale
Pros: Extras that mean a lot to an animator
  • Stretchy IK and S & S on the head.
  • Lots of deformers on the rig you can turn on to get shapes
Cons: Deal breakers
  • Walking with this character is next to impossible to teach, but it can be done.  the rig has no foot roll so you have to fake.  My advice, if you use this rig, just do a close up acting shot. He is charming in a weird way, but the rig can’t handle much.
Cons: Extras
  • This is a very basic rig and works much better for close-up acting bits.
  • I only use this rig to get newbie anims excited about character animation because they think he is funny and they like to shape him and all kinds of ways.
  • No need for controls for individual fingers, he has no fingers.
  • No switches for IK and FK on neck. Neck is IK only.
  • No switches for space on IK and FK.
  • Turn on the knees if you are going to try and make him walk.