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7 Best Maya Plugins for Animation Workflow

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So around the internet there are tons of “best of” lists. I noticed that there are not really one for Maya Plugins. So here is a list of paid and free maya plugins. These plugins are based around the animation aspect of maya. There are tons of good ones out there for rigging and lighting.I decided to focus more on the animation aspect. These plugins should help increase productivity and workflow. I hope you enjoy my list of Best Maya Plugins. Feel free to comment and make any suggestions. I will be creating an “honorable mentions” list at the end of the post. These are tools I find helpful for my personal workflow, so some might not work for you and your techniques.

Best Maya Plugins Quick Overview

RankPlugin NameCost
3Blue Pencil$49
5Anim Tools$220
7MayaStylin, Graph Editor Redux, Digital Pose Test 2.2.0FREE
8Anim SnapFREE
9Pose 2 Shelf 1.1 (FREE)FREE


Best Maya Plugins Number 1. MGTOOLS

Mgtools, developed by Miguel Winfield, is an amazing set of tools for animators. This toolset is well worth the money and provides TONS of great features. My explanation of all the tools will not do it justice. I could also probably write an essay about it. I suggest you watch the video above and visit the manual web site. Some of my favorite tools are MGchannelBox, MG_SelectionSet, MG_POsnap, MG-AnimationLibrary. I have to admit that some of the tools have equivalent free tools. For example, shotView is a lot like ZoomtoView, but it is nice because all of these tools are packaged into one easy to transfer toolset. MGchannelBox allows for even quicker channel box editing. MG_SelectionSet lets you quickly create selection sets and gui’s. MG_POsnap provides amazing snapping tools for blocking, and MG-AnimationLibrary lets you record and store animation! Again, this is just the tip of the iceberg, and MGtools provides other things like PathTrackers, Hud display tools, and animation back-up tools. Because of it’s simple to use interface, low price, and plethora of scripts, MGtools gets my number one spot. If I had to only live with one tool, or tool set really, it would be MGtools.

Get MgTools Plugin

Best Maya Plugins Number 2. TweenMachine

Best Maya Plugins 2
My number two for my Best Maya Plugins for Animation list is tweenMachine. TweenMachine is so simple, yet so powerful. TweenMachine allows you to easily create tween keys with a few simple clicks on a slider. No more middle mouse button tricks for you my friend. TweenMachine lets you visually favor poses on different body parts. You can create custom sets that control an entire character. In tweenmachine you can set special tick colors to indicate tweens, and even apply overshoot. I use TweenMachine all the time, it is amazing and free. But please, donate!

Get TweenMachine Plugin

Best Maya Plugins Number 3. Blue Pencil

Best Maya Plugins 3
Blue Pencil is plugin that requires money but is worth it. Blue Pencil earns the three spot on my Best Maya Plugins for Animation List. Blue pencil is essentially a sketch pad for maya. Blue Pencil is an amazing grease pencil tool that lets you plan shots quickly using your wacom tablet. The plugin lets you draw over any shot and is great for planning, review, thumbnailing, arc tracking, and etc. The best thing about blue pencil, it is in maya, so if you thumbnail in maya you don’t have to import any silly jpegs or .mov files. Just draw and playblast if needed. Blue pencil has pressure-sensitive controls, but honestly don’t expect photoshop quality drawings. It also has some re-timing tools. Blue pencil is meant to rough out ideas. It is simple to use and places three on my Best Maya Plugins list.

Get Blue Pencil Plugin

Best Maya Plugins Number 4. BhGhost

Best Maya Plugins 4

BhGhost is an crazy onion skinning and ghosting tool. When I mean crazy, I mean straight out a science fiction movie. BhGhost takes onion skinning to a whole new level. The plugin allows you to essentially see the outlines of a model, almost like a drawing. Check out the video below to see a demo of this amazing software. One slight issue with bhGhost is that it takes a lot of resources, so when using the tool do not max out every setting. If you do your scene will be very slow. I don’t use this plugin as often as I should but because of it’s ingenuity I put this number four on my Best Maya Plugins list.

Get BhGhost Plugin

Best Maya Plugins Number 5. Anim Tools

Best Maya Plugins 5
This is the tool set that Animation Mentor provides to their students.. I used it ALL THE TIME at animation mentor, and still do. This tool set is stacked, and has lots of stuff like MGtools. The set offers two arc tracker tools, one with real time feedback, and the other based upon nurbs curves. They also provide a pose master tool that allows you to create a pose library. Other tools include FK\IK snapping, Mirror (mirror both sides of a character, or multiple characters), an enhanced pick walk, and a really cool manipulation tool that allows you to control the rotates and translates of multiple selections. The manipulation tool, to me, is worth the price of admission. The tool set also offers Gecco, which is sort of like Graph Editor Redux. Personally I use it a lot since I went to Animation Mentor so it might be mostly out of habit but might be worth checking out.

Get Anim Tools Plugin

Best Maya Plugins Number 6. ShotView

Best Maya Plugins 6
Shotview is a free script that allows you to zoom in on the main camera without destroying it’s positioning. Meaning if you are needing to clean up those small finger arcs and want to camera view, you can zoom in and really get down to the nitty gritty. Shotview lets the user zoom in and pan around the camera. I love shotview and it earns a spot of my Best Maya Plugins list.

Get ShotView Plugin

Best Maya Plugins Number 7. MayaStylin, Graph Editor Redux, Digital Pose Test 2.2.0

Best Maya Plugins 7
Personally I do not use this plugin but I know tons of people who do. I am going to make an effort to use it more often but I have some tools and hotkeys that I use, I am not much of a gui interface guy. Anyway, this tool is super powerful and lets those who love the graph editor never leave it. The tools lets you re-time, set tween keys, and tons of other nifty features like add noise to a curve and remove redundant keys. Although I personally don’t use it, I realize lots of people do, that is why I placed it on my Best Maya Plugins list.

Get MayaStylin, Graph Editor Redux, Digital Pose Test 2.2.0

Honorable Mentions

Anim Snap (FREE) – Lets you snap along multiple frames, great if you like to snap to locators.
Anim Snap

Pose 2 Shelf 1.1 (FREE) – Does what the name suggests, let you create poses and place them on the shelf with a single button!
Pose to Shelf

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