Thursday, 8 October 2015

Meet Mathilda! - An Excellent Free Animation Rig

Mathilda, courtesy of SCAD
After a long period of development, Mathilda is here! This excellent free rig, now available for use by Maya animators all around the world, was designed and built by students at SCAD - The Savannah College of Art and Design.

The Mathilda rig has a very strong range of facial expressions, and uses a new plugin from AnimSchool to help you select the controls.  If she looks strangely familar, it's because she's modeled after the actress Natalie Portman.

We're excited to see what our students can do with this latest addition to the growing range of freeware available to those learning to animate in Maya.

Natalie Portman. Wikimedia Commons
Who Made Mathilda?
The Mathilda Free Rig was developed by Leon Li-Aun Sooi and Xiong Lin from Savannah College of Art and Design.

What's so great about Mathilda?
Mathilda's features include:
  • Animschool Picker - new technology from AnimSchool
  • Advanced facial control -  Sticky lip, Eye scale, Bendy head,  Fleshy eye,  Secondary controls
  • IK/FK limb control - The key framed position of IK or FK can convert with each other by using picker. 
  • Stretch Spine - Limbs, bendy Limbs.
  • Hand and foot control system: additional attributes allow easier control of the rig.
  • Auto interaction: The jacket will automatically interact with gravity when you rotate the body. The eyelash will also bend when you pull the eyebrow down.
  • Easy shader loading: All the advanced shaders(Subsurface scattering, procedural) are saved in another file. So rig will not be too slow when you create the rig reference. By using the picker, you can easily assign all the advanced shaders to the model.
  • nHair is available, to make her hair flow like a shampoo advert. Check the help document to see how to render and simulate nHair. You can also read about nHair here.
  • Global Scale: scale the size of the rig.
How does she work?
You can watch the video here for a full demo

Mathilda Rig Demo from Mathilda on Vimeo.
What are the terms of the license? Is she free?
Yes indeed - Mathilda is completely free - but only for non-commercial use. Mathilda's developers aimed to "provide a free high-end character rig for animation students to develop their professional portfolio".

Commercial use is strictly forbidden.

Leon Li-Aun Sooi is responsible for rigging, tool development, body blendshape modeling and tweaking hair for the test animation.  See his work at
Xiong Lin is responsible for modeling, texturing, head blendshape modeling and lighting two test shots in this demo. See his work at

Thanks also to Scott Wright, Prasad Narse, and Alex Anderson for their animation.

So what's stopping you? Download Mathilda and start animating!

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