15 of the Best tools for Maya Animators

Never missing a chance to use the word “Arsenal”, I present to you these useful scripts, essential tools or secret weapons of Maya Animators.

15. AttributeMan


AttributeMan, by dwalden74 for Maya 5.x and up – Not so much Maya Animators tool as it is a rigging tool – but very useful. Put simply it’s a way to move channels from one object to another while maintaining connections, also allows you to quickly reorder attributes in an intuitive way. This one always comes in handy. Free on CreativeCrash.com

14. MG Tools

mgToolsby Miguel Winfield for Maya 7.0 and up – One day, somewhere out there, Winfield decided to cull all of his Maya tools together into one massive set and release it online. The result was the famously useful MGTools, which includes timesavers for just about every part of the workflow, including animation.

Possibly most noteworthy of the features is animRescue, which is a simple, lightweight method of backing up any and all changes to your animation, to be restored at anytime should your system crash.

Touted by industry professionals around the world, this one is definetly worth a look. Free and commercial versions available from MGLand

13. IK Render View Renderer


IK Render View Renderer, by Cyberika for Maya 2011-2015. “Sometimes batch render does not work but render view window renders perfectly. This script renders image sequences through render window.” A solution for to people like me who hate rendering in Maya.

If you ever suffer from Maya render apoplexy, this is an excellent go-to tool. IK render performs preview renders in sequence and saves your files to the specified locations, no messing about with project settings. The best part of this tool is that it performs the render on your screen, so you can see the realtime results.

Watch your hatred for Maya rendering disappear with IK Render View. Free on Creative Crash

12. DJ Rivet

DJ Rivet, by David Johnson for Maya 7.x and up. Any kind of rivet tool is a must have, but the follicle based DJRivet is one of the most popular.

Maya, in all of its functionality, has many boggling feature gaps, one of those being a quick and easy way to constrain objects to sub-objects. DJRivet gives allows you to constrain to nurbs or polygon surfaces, with a few suprising added features like subobject to subobject constraints. Free on CreativeCrash.com

11. Trdprty_tungsethTangent

Animation Tangent by Nathan Tungseth – this popular but unfortunately named script makes your animation curves… look nice. It comes recommended by several good looking people at the 11SecondClub. Free at 11secondclub.com

10. ZVP Parent Master


ZVP Parent Master by Paolo Dominici for Maya 8.x and higher. For those of you who loathe setting up complex constraints, here’s a tool that does all the heavy lifting for you. Free from Paolos site.

9. Ghost Tools

Ghost Tool, by Brian Horgan A very clever onion skinning solution for those of you fed up with Maya’s wonky built in Ghost feature. Brians Ghost Tools makes use of strokes to create easy to read line drawings. The tool is fast, compact, and loaded with features. Read the full article about it here. Free Download from Brians site

8. ABX Pickerabx-picker

ABX Picker, by J Adam Burke for Maya 2011 – 2013. A junior entry to the best GUI picker list, the strong selling points of this picker are the functionality and the rapid response from the tools developer. A highly rated, well supported user favorite. $20 on CreativeCrash

7. Snap Keys

Snap Keys, (various). This function got a few votes – whether using Maya’s built in snap key function or the custom Snap Keys included with MGTools – there’s also a very useful script over on the 11secondclub forums that prevents Maya from ever creating sub-frame keys.

6. Frame Counter

Frame Counter, (various). Many options are available if you want to add a custom frame counter to your playblast. Head over to this forum post to find scripts for both Max and Maya, or take the lazy route and just download The Frame Counter from CreativeCrash

5. Grease Pencil

(various). Having a clear sheet of plastic over your monitor is a great way to sketch on your scene, but if you want to get with the 21st century and avoid dry erase bits all over your desk, then get down with this fantastic tool. Maya 2014 comes equipped with its own version, but other options are available.

Try Blue Pencil, or GPencilTool. More reading on other options over at this forum.

4. AnimSchool Picker

AnimSchool Picker, by AnimSchool for Maya and Softimage, all versions. This free tool has a lot going for it for Maya animators. Easy to use, easy to customize and a great depth of features.

Creating pickers is very simple, even adding multiple buttons at the same time is a snap, assigning sets and adding custom backgrounds is simple. But what really adds to the functionality is the ability to assign commands to buttons.

This tool is not only useful for picking controllers in a character rig, it’s also a catch-all solution for making all sorts GUIs.

Infintely faster than building UIs with mel, this tool is a must try for animators and technical artists alike. Free with signed waiver at AnimSchool.

3. Motion Trails

Motion Trail tools, (various). You can of use the built in Maya Motion Trail option, but if you ask the friendly folks at the 11second club, Mr Motion Trail, Arc Tracker or A Piece of Acetate Paper are all excellent alternatives. All free except the acetate, but if you’re like me you can use a dry erase marker right on your screen, what could possibly go wrong?

2. TweenMachine

TweenMachine by Justin Barrett, the Tween Machine offers a good array of quick tweening options for Maya animators. Quick one-click tweening plus the option to affect only selected channels makes this a must have tool in the animators arsenal. Free on justinsbarrett.com

1. Pose Library

Pose Library, (various). Far and away the most useful and requested tool is the Pose Library. Whether it’s feature work, TV series or personal projects, there’s no substitute for an easy way to save and import your poses. I can’t imagine a production running smoothly without a way to import animation cycles, hand poses or face shapes. Invaluable to Maya animators.

If I didn’t have a pose library, I’d probably punch a baby elephant in the butt.

Here are three of the best tools for saving and importing animation data. PoseLib, Studio Library and PoseMan.

Anything missing from the list?  Send your suggestions to brent@lesterbanks.com



  1. Great round up! I would add Shapes from braverabbit to the list. While it is primarily a rigging tool (and an indispensable one at that), it also has some amazing features for sculpting and keyframing quick fix blend shapes.

  2. Lenin Garcia

    I also would add Keyframe MP or Keyframe PRO

  3. Boog

    dont punch a baby elephant in the butt

  4. Ron

    Also check out Graph Editor Redux and Digital Pose Test. These are used in many of the big name studios and are essential tools of professional animators.

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