Basic Maya, a basic explanation to Maya 4 replies

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Nemmerle Forum Mod

Voice of joy and sunshine

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26th May 2003

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#1 14 years ago

Maya comes in many forms ranging from free (Maya PLE) one and a half thousand pounds (Maya complete) and four thousand nine hundred (Maya unlimited) (all values rounded to nearest hundred.) So some of my points may be more or less relevant depending on the version you have.

First I will be explaining the interface to first come users, those of you who already know the interface should check back sometime later when I will be explaining the modelling of a simple scene. (I will not use much explanation of the interface in the second part so if you think you can just skip this and not learn the interface you really shouldn’t. But it’s up to you, if you have used a 3d prog before you can probably pick it up latter as we go along.) Right then, this is the screen you should get when you first start Maya. 41873First-start.jpg Now don’t be worried if your version doesn’t have all the options; the basics I'm going to explain were the same in Maya 5 and I expect they are the same across most of the different versions of Maya.

Now then I shall show you a basic overlay of the controls and give an explanation of the basic functions

41873First-start-overlay.jpg Now these doubtless require some explaining if you've never used a 3d program before, even if you have the interface in Maya is still worth going through as it differs in some important ways from other 3d programs.

SHELF: The shelf has many tabs along the top each of these will show a different set of options directly below the tab, as you can see I have the polygon tab selected so I’ am getting some of the options related to poly modelling and texturing.

Time line: This should be familiar to anyone who has ever used a 3d app to make animation. Basically it shows the selected range of frames and allows you to move the scrubber (the little black shaded box indicating what frame you are on) back and fourth, this as you have doubtless guessed scrolls through your animation. At each frame (although it is best just to set a few and let Maya interpolate an objects movements or use an expression driven calculation (we wont go into them here) to animate) you are able to set a key frame as they are called which are states of the object you want to happen, Maya will then interpolate between the key frames to produce the animation.

Time line display portion: This is a bit different from some programs where you are forced to view the whole range of frames for your animation (which can make minute adjustments trick.) Instead you can select a range of frames to view, either the whole animation or just a bit of it. You can drag the range to view using the two handles (box shaped buttons) at the edge of the Time line display portion scroller. The observant among you may have noticed the boxes directly adjacent to the scroller the innermost set of these indicate the range being displayed, (I' am viewing frames one to twenty four) the outer set of these show the total length the animation should last for (this animation starts at frame zero and ends at frame forty eight.)

Note: If you are wondering why you might want to start an animation latter than frame 1 the answer is that many dynamic effects like particles calculate within the Maya engine and as such would not be in the position you wanted them to be in at frame one, thus you would start at a latter frame, say frame 30 when the particles are in the position you wanted them in.

View display modes: These are just basic view display modes. As you can see they show on them how the view ports will be arrayed.

Note: If you can’t work out how to use them (seeing as their buttons and all) then you shouldn’t be using this program, (or any other.) But as you can figure out how to browse the Internet we shouldn’t come across that problem.

Layer area: Maya works differently to most other programs, in that its layers are in a much easier to utilise area than say, 3ds max, or Rhino. To create a new layer click the icon to the right of the 'display' drop down in the layer menu (clear enough?) To place objects on that layer select the appropriate objects from the main view and right click the layers name in the layer menu then select 'add selected' the three options that come with each layer should be rather easy to understand but if not then I will post more about the layer menu latter on.

Texture mapping helpers: For now you don’t need to know about these. All you need to know is that they are there and you shouldn’t click them unless you know what to do when you have, you're unlikely to do any damage but you might make some weird things happen.

Toolbar: Drop down tool bars, this changes depending on what you have selected in the menu set selector. This provides more options than I can shake a stick at so I don’t think I'll bother explaining them all, the most important one at the moment is 'Display' which will enable you to get back any elements of the UI you accidentally manage to hide (hurray :))

Manipulation tools consist of:

Select: point and click to select (tricky I know) Note: hold down shift to select more than one object the lead object should take the selection color of the orig object and the following object (the first object you selected) should take the color appropriate to the following object(s) (green lead, white follow, by default) Lasso select: A lasso selection tool, if you've ever used paint you know what one of these is Move: Move the selected object(s) Rotate: Rotate the selected object(s) Resize: Resize the selected object(s)

Among others. Nothing much else to worry about here at the moment.

Selection options: Object, Hierarchy and sub object. Hierarchy you don’t really need to worry about right now. Object selects the basic objects like spheres and the basic models that go into making up a scene (deformed primitives etc) Sub Object: This is rather tricky and requires some basic 3d terms. Each Object is made up of lots of little points in virtual space called vertexes, between these vertexes is stretched a sort of skin (often referred to as a face or in some cases a polygon) this is what is rendered to make up the object, by selecting this option you can move these points about and extrude and create new points on or from your mesh (mesh refers to the models vertexes faces and edges,) this makes a very powerful tool and is the main bases of poly modelling.

Note: You may have seen me refer to 'edges' these are the edge of each face that is stretched between the vertexes and are usually selectable individually.

Well I think that’s enough simple explanation. By combining and using these tools you can create most complex scenes and models. I would do you a nice VTM to explain how to do a model but there isn’t enough space to upload it to :mad:

So I'll be explaining how to actually use these tools in a follow up post some time latter tonight, (after I've gathered more screenshots and written the danged thing)


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#2 14 years ago

I love you

Nemmerle Forum Mod

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#3 14 years ago

Simple modelling. (or how to get my fingers to fall off from typing this thing)

The first thing you will need to know is how to navigate in 3d space, this is very simple. Hold down ALT and use the left mouse button to rotate around the centre of the view, hold down ALT and use the right mouse button to zoom in and out, use ALT and the middle mouse button to pan.

Note: you obviously have to move the mouse while holding ALT + whatever mouse button you are using for the required operation.

To switch between full screen for one window or a windowed display of each window tap (TAP NOT HOLD) the Spacebar.

Note: If you hold the space bar rather than tapping it a marking menu will come up. Just press the spacebar again to get rid of it and try again. (If you do it right you should get a brief glimpse of the marking menu before the display mode changes)

Right then onto the important stuff. First change the display mode (tap spacebar); you should get four windows (three orthographic* and one perspective)

* Orthographic basically means they have no perspective, if you rotate in such a view it is like looking through an isometric camera, (such a camera could not exist in the real world however.)

Secondly click in the perspective window (it has perspective written in it and is from an angle rather than flat on) and press the number '5' on the top number keys (this puts the selected display into a shading mode and renders the faces we were talking about in the first post,)

Note: press 6 to get a textured view (when we start applying textures that is. Which wont be until later on in the project) And press 4 to go back to wire frame (whenever you think you'd like a wire frame view really :uhm: )

Now for the third step create a box (polygons tab on the shelf located towards the left hand side it's a picture of a box so you shouldn’t be able to miss it) the display should now look something like the one pictured below


Now zoom out a little way (ALT RMB drag mouse back gently) and switch into sub-object-mode and the vertex mode of sub object (little square dot just next to the sub-object toggle)

you should now have something on screen that looks like this 41873Stage-2.jpg

In this mode drag select around the top vertexes in the Front view port


And drag them up to form a column like this; press W or go to the side bar and press the move icon then select the arrow pointing up to restrict the movement to one axis and drag upwards to the desired height, adjust the view using the controls mentioned earlier to reach a good viewing angle


Now this next bit is a bit involved. So I'll try and break it down. First go to the polygons bar that should still be open along the top. Now run your pointer along it until you come to this icon 41873Split.jpg Now this is a split tool, you will find them in most 3d apps that incorporate polygon modelling; the way it works is as follows: When you have an object selected you will have noticed that lines are drawn between the vertexes and along the edges of the faces (I think I mentioned that earlier.) What this tool does is that when you click along the length of one line it will place a dot there, you then click on an adjacent line (I'll call them edges from here on) and the tool will create another edge between the two points which splits the face in two (too all intents and purposes) this allows you to add a great deal of detail and diversity to your mesh by slowly refining it as you build up the model.

Now that the explanation of the tool is complete here’s what I want you to do with it. Take the tool and from the top edge of each side run three equidistant splits down that side of the column (repeat for all columns.) When you have done this part you will need to line up the splits (espc if you've done them in the perspective view.) To do this select each newly created vertex (only select one vertex at a time and repeat for the others) go into move mode (press W or select from side bar) and hold X down while moving it sideways, (this causes it to snap to grid but by using the arrow to move it the vertex maintains its vertical and depth position) then select the other vertex attached to it (the lines going from vertex to vertex should make it quite clear which vertex this is but I suggest you move a vertex along the top first and then move it's partner at the bottom) then select both vertexes and move them back to their original position (move them as a box selection so they maintain their distance relative to each other.) If done properly on all the vertexes it should look like this 41873Stage-5-med.jpg Once this stage is done we now get onto the interesting stuff (this next bit should be easy compared to what you've just done.) Go into faces mode (next to sub objects toggle like the vertex mode was, it should look like this: 41873Stage-6-_sub-object-faces_.jpg )

A word on selecting in faces mode is probably in order since it is different to some other programs. To select a face in Maya you click on the square box in the middle of each face. This is useful for several reasons but mostly allows improved precision

As I was about to say however: You must now select the faces around the corner of each side of the box, (not very clear but there's a picture in a minute.) to do this you must hold SHIFT and click on each face's selection handle individually (well you could do it another way but you might select something by mistake) This is best done in the perspective view, so click once inside the perspective view port and tap the space bar this should maximise the view port. Now selection has become easier, you will need to rotate the image to find all the faces (ALT LMB) when you have them all selected you should have something that looks like this 41873Stage-7.jpg Now go to the polygon bar again, being careful not to lose your selection, (which means don’t click on anything I don’t tell you too;))

Note: If you do lose your selection press CTRL z to get it back)

There should be an icon one to the right of the split tool you used earlier. This is the extrude poly tool, this is used to extrude faces out from the mesh and is one of the core tools to any polygon modelling, its use is relatively simple, Click on the tool and a gizmo should appear similar to the move Gizmo, this is the extrude gizmo (bet you never saw that coming.) 41873Stage-8.jpg As you can see it has move arrows similar to the move tool, it also has squares on the end similar to the resize tool. - Now we don’t need to use the squares right now but I will explain them anyway in-case you decide to play about a bit. The squares are just like the resize command usually used but instead of applying it to all the faces as one object like the normal resize command would they instead apply it to each face individually - Select the horizontal arrow pointing perpendicular to the face it is attached to and drag it away from the face, you should see the face it is attached to come with it, move it about a quarter of the diameter of the column away from the starting point and then let go (take finger off mouse button.) Now press Q to clear the selection. You should be left with something like this: 41873Stage-10.jpg

- It looks quite boring doesn’t it? But don’t worry, latter (well probably tomorrow) I will introduce you to simple materials (a combination of textures and settings) that make it look much nicer -

Now go to the top of the column and select using the same method as before the faces on top of the bits you just extruded 41873Stage-11-med.jpg

Then extrude them up a little way. 41873Stage-12-med.jpg

Adjust the view to give you an overview of the tower.

With the basic sub object editing complete it is time to return to the object mode. Press the button to the left of the sub object toggle the object mode should now have a single object selected which should be your tower. 41873Stage-13.jpg

Clone the object (CTRL d) and move it horizontally along from itself to a reasonable distance (W key to enter move mode, remember to select one arrow to lock into that axis)


We're nearly finished for this post but there are just a few things that need taking care of before we finish up for the night.

Create a cube from the polygon shelf (It should still be open, you want the little picture of a cube) Then resize (Press r and use the gizmo like you would to move only instead of selecting an arrow middle mouse button click on the cube and drag inwards) The cube until it is about this size (see picture in a minute) and drag it to the side of your tower (also see picture). 41873Stage-15.jpg

Now enter sub object mode and move the vertexes till they are in the following position relative to you towers (this can be done in two move commands, select the top vertexes and move them up to the desired height for the wall, then select the side vertexes and move them off to a decent length)


Now return to object mode, clone the wall (CTRL d) and move it across to fit into the other tower


And I think we'll leave it there for tonight.

Useful UI things to remember

ALT + LMB rotates around centre of view ALT + MMB Pans view ALT + RMB Zooms in or out

F while you have something selected will focus the view on that selection G will repeat the last command used (useful for split tool)

Q enters select mode (although you can also select in move mode) W enters move mode E enters rotate mode R enters rescale mode


Skeptic Extraordinaire.

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#4 14 years ago

Man, this is wicked, haven't tried it yet but just you doing this is really cool ;) I'll test it out as soon as I can (I've been rather busy these last few days, and probably will be for some while :s)


I didn't make it!

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#5 6 years ago

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