Friday, 18 March 2016

Where Can Animators Find Free Sets and Props?

Turbosquid. Free Stuff!
Where can student animators find free sets and props for animation? You don't always want to spend time modeling the things you need for your animation shot - sometimes you just need some free props in a hurry.

The best places to begin are and Both sites have plenty of free resources for animators to use; you can import sets, props, all sorts of useful items that will help bring your animation to life.

Of course, you should always give credit to the creators - professional artists always give credit where it's due.

Why do you need free sets and props?
Because animation begins with a blank screen. Unlike live-action film-makers, we get nothing for free. Think of any animated film and you will realise at once that the characters inhabit a world, filled with interesting places, rooms and artifacts.

When we bring our characters and creatures to life, we want them to perform on a stage that is interesting to watch. This means we need to build a set, and - to some extent at least - fill it with props. It's the job that, on a live action set, would be done by the set designer and their assistants - the set decorators.

Where can you find free sets and props?
Let's start with Turbosquid. You will have to register first, but this is free and they won't spam you or send you endless emails promoting their products. Here you can find tons of free sets, including city streets, farms, buildings and even space stations.

What is available?
The props are endless - hats, weapons, vehicles, furniture for your set, every conceivable object you could want. Not all of it is free, but sort by Lower Prices in the drop-down menu and you will find all the free stuff first.

The Free 3D
Where else?
Also worth bookmarking is, a site that like Turbosquid has tons of free assets for download.

What kind of files can you use?
For Maya users, any Maya file will do - that is any file ending in .mb or .ma. You can also use file types ending in .fbx, or .obj. Both of these file types can be imported into Maya.

How do you import these assets into your shot?
You will have to Register and Log in to Turbosquid and, and then download the files you need. These will appear in your downloads folder.  From there, simply open up your shot in Maya, go to file/import, and import the objects you need into your shot.

Is that it?
You will likely have to scale the objects in your shot so they match the size of your animation rig. Also you may have to do some cleanup in the Outliner, grouping geometry together or combining it into one polygon mesh under edit/combine in the Polygons menu in Maya.

So who makes all this stuff? 
The answer is, mostly, students, people learning the craft of digital artwork and the creation of 3D assets. Some folks want to be paid, others are happy to release their work into the public domain. Needless to say, you should always check the terms of the license. Make sure it is for non-commercial use only.

Should you credit the creator?
Yes. Always give credit where it's due. Professional artists always give credit.

The Escape Studios Animation Blog offers a personal view on the art of animation and visual effects. To apply for our new BA/MA starting in September 2016, follow this link.

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