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Learn to Animate with Free Maya Rig Tutorials

by | Dec 2, 2014

In this article we’ll be walking you through how to use the basic rig controls for our free Maya Rig, Squirrels. We’ve also created a series of video tutorials that you can view on our Animation Mentor Youtube channel. You can download the free Squirrels rig here. Happy animating!

–The Animation Mentor Crew

Ready to Start Animating?
We love animators and animation and that’s why we started this school, to help people like you get the skills you need to become an animator. But we realize not everyone is ready to become a professional animator just yet, and some of you may want to try it out and see if you like it first, or just enjoy it as a hobby.

That’s why we’ve created free Maya rigs for people to use to create their own animations. We’ve also created an entire series of video tutorials to show you how to use the rigs and controls to create a great character animation performance.

Learn Rig Controls from our Body Mechanics Mentor
Drew Adams is a mentor for Animation Mentor and is also an animator at DreamWorks. He’s worked on The Croods, Puss & Boots, and Kung Fu Panda 2, to name just a few. He is also a mentor for our Advanced Body Mechanics class and loves to show students how to create realistic and believable performances.

In this series of tutorials, he’ll walk you through the basics of the Squirrels rig controls and show you all the cool “squash and stretch” and “overlap” features that are built into the rig.

Getting Started with Your Rig
To get you started on your animation journey, after you download the rig, start with the “Controls Overview” video.

Drew will point out the root control and how it controls all jumping and rotating features for the rig. He calls it the most important control. Next most important is the head rotation with built in squash and stretch. The spine control is good for action and posing and gives Squirrels curves so you can portray personality and mood. For example a curved back spine makes him look proud, or a slumped over spine can make him look sad.

Next, Drew shows you how to work the ear controls for extra attitude. There are seven controls on the tail and Drew shows you how to use each control and fine-tune adjustments to create character and add drama to movement. He also shows you how to change the proportions of the Squirrels rig so that you could create an entire village of different looking Squirrels. Make tall ones, short ones, thin ones, and fat ones, and all with different shaped and sized tails.

The rest of the tutorials take you into more detail about each specific control area and show you how to build out more drama and personality by fine-tuning the poses and movements of the Squirrels Rig.

Ready, Set, Go!
So what are you waiting for? Go download Squirrels, and get started animating with these free tutorials. Have fun!

Animation Tutorial: Free Squirrels Rig – Controls Overview

Animation Tutorial: Free Squirrels Rig – Basic Hop

Animation Tutorial: Free Squirrels Rig – Adding Overlap to Tail

Animation Tutorial: Free Squirrels Rig – Adding Overlap to Mouth

Animation Tutorial: Free Squirrels Rig – Adding Overlap to Ears

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