CAP 203 - Computer Animation III

Notes on Maya

Objectives:

This lesson covers material from various web tutorials, Autodesk's Maya Service and Support files, and the text How to Cheat in Maya 2010. Objectives important to this lesson:

  1. Essential skills videos
  2. Interface
  3. Organization
  4. Playblasting
  5. Creating a camera
  6. MEL scripts
  7. Proxy
  8. Splines
  9. Getting Started lessons
Concepts:

Maya is a modeling/animation product now owned by Autodesk. Students who have a .edu mailing address can download the currently marketed version for free (13 month license, restricted to academic use) at students.autodesk.com.

It is strongly recommended that students should download and install a current copy of the program to their own computer each year they are in the Animation program. This goes for all Autodesk animation related products. Practice on your own, outside the classroom, leads to much greater success than practice that is confined to the classroom.

You should follow the link above to go to the Maya Service and Support files web page. There, you should download the Getting Started file for the version of Maya that you will be using, either on your own machine, in the classroom, or in the workplace. This is a large pdf, which contains a great deal of information about the program. As a searchable pdf, it is a valuable aid in looking up whatever methods you currently need. As a text for this class, it will show you how to use Maya's most important features.

Autodesk Information

Essential Skills Videos

We will begin with a review of the Essential Skills videos that are included with Maya. This will give you an overview of using Maya. They are all quite short, and we will view them all in class:

  1. Zoom, pan, and roll
  2. Move, rotate, and scale
  3. Create and view objects
  4. Component selection
  5. Discover secret menus
  6. Keyframe animation
  7. Preview render

Interface

There are many similarities and differences in Maya, compared to 3DS Max. Watch a few minutes of the video lesson at this link on YouTube, and note the following:

  • As the author opens Maya, he is presented with a single panel view. It is his default view, but you can configure the program to show several viewports instead of one at startup. Note that he is using Maya 2008 on a Macintosh. (Maya is available in Mac, Windows, and Linux versions.)
  • Rotate and tilt the scene with alt-drag. Note that there is also a View Cube in the upper right corner of the screen, as you have seen in 3DS Max. Like 3DS Max, the cube tool was not always there. Maya calls this kind of motion a tumble or a roll.
  • Pan the scene with alt-MiddleMousebutton-drag. This may be referred to as alt-MM-drag or alt-mousewheel-drag. Maya calls this kind of motion a track or a pan .
  • Zoom in or out of the scene by scrolling the mouse wheel or by alt-right-dragging the mouse. Maya calls this kind of motion a dolly or a zoom. Technically, it is a dolly if the camera actually moves, and a zoom if the effect is just magnification.
  • The main horizontal button bar of Maya is called the shelf. It is configurable to show different icons for different purposes. Several shelves are available, not from the dropdown to the shelf's left, but from the small button just above that dropdown.
    Each tab on the bar above the shelf causes a different collection of buttons (a different shelf) to be displayed. The list of buttons displayed by each tab can be edited.
  • The Polygon shelf contains buttons to create primitive forms. In the video, the author shows that you can toggle the Interactive Creation setting through the Create menu (Create, Polygon Primitives, Interactive Creation). On lets you drag the dimensions of the primitive as you do in the 3DS Max creation pane, Off gives you a default sized object that may be modified.
    In the lesson from the Getting Started file below, you will also see that you can use an option button in the menu based creation method to set parameters as you create the object.
  • The author continues his lesson, talking in a hurried way about creating a new shelf, and adding scripts to be placed on the shelf as buttons. This is covered in the first chapter of How to Cheat in Maya 2010. The tutorial stops being useful at about six and a half minutes, so let's move on.

If you are ready for something more imposing, follow this link to an Autodesk image of the Maya interface. It will be more digestible now that you have seen some of the parts already.

  1. Menu sets - Use the dropdown selector to choose from the available main menus.
  2. Menus - In additions to main menus, there are menus on each panel, and on each option window.
  3. Status line - Like a button bar for the current main menu, its buttons represent menu choices.
  4. Shelf - As discussed above, the shelf can hold any of the provided button bars, or a custom button bar you make to speed up processes you need to use. Note the tabs above the shelf that are used to jump from one loaded shelf to another.
  5. Panel toolbar - Each panel has a toolbar, as well as a menu bar.
  6. Channel box - Like the Modify panel in 3DS Max, you can change properties of selected objects here.
  7. Layers - Layers are discussed late in Mr. Luhta's book. For now, know that there are Display, Render, and Animation layers in Maya scenes. As in 3DS Max, objects can be attached to layers to quickly show or hide them.
  8. Toolbox - In the image, Autodesk calls this the QWERTY toolbox, because most of the tools in it can be accessed by pressing one of those letters on the keyboard:
    • q - select tool
    • w - move tool
    • e - rotate tool
    • r - scale tool
    • t - show manipulators
    • y - previous tool used in the scene

      This is not exactly a mnemonic list is it? Take heart in the fact that Select, Move, Rotate, and Scale are in the same order you saw on the 3DS Max toolbar. This may help remember their order.

      Mr. Luhta suggests that you should hide the QWERTY toolbox, since you can just use the keyboard to select the proper tool. He has a point, but I recommend you do not do this until you have learned the keys. As a matter of foreshadowing, I will also warn you that some hot keys in Maya only work in Upper case, while some (like the ones above) require Lower case. Leave the Cap Lock off, okay?
  9. Quick Layout buttons - The first two buttons on this bar, for example, switch between single viewport and four viewport views of the scene. Other buttons provide less familiar workspace configurations.
  10. Help line - A space at the bottom of the Maya window that shows information about buttons and other controls when you hover your mouse pointer over them.
  11. Time slider - This is a timeline that shows time scale, keys, and other elements you would expect to find on a timeline.
  12. Range slider - A control below the time slider, that is used when selecting time ranges (such as for start and end times or playback).
  13. Command line - Use to enter MEL commands to Maya. (See below.)
  14. Playback - Player controls to check the current state of all or part of an animation.
  15. Anim/Character - We will leave this one alone for now.

Material from How to Cheat in Maya 2010

Organization

In chapter 1, Mr. Luhta presents some organizational ideas that will help you avoid losing assets that are created by your Maya animations. On pages 4 and 5 he discusses establishing a folder for each new project. This is important because Maya uses a series of subfolders for many purposes, each holding assets that would be hard to find if you did not set a project/master folder at the start. This is similar to the way After Effects and 3DS Max should be used. In Maya, it is just as important.

On pages 10 and 11, Mr. Luhta discusses referencing. To understand this section, look at the hierarchical diagrams on page 10. Assets in a scene are stored in separate files, which are referenced by the scene file. The text says the scene file only contains the animation data for the scene, but it is clear that references to these other files must be in it as well.

On pages 6 and 7, Mr. Luhta organizes the workspace for a scene. He recommends a three panel layout that includes a camera view, a perspective view, and a graph editor view for customizing animation.

Playblasting

A new term is introduced: playblasting. This means rendering a series of frames as screen shots, creating a movie file from them, and showing the movie in an installed movie player. This is a quick render solution, meant to be a way to check your work without going to the trouble of an actual render.

Creating a camera

On pages 12 and 13, Mr. Luhta walks through creating a camera in Maya. He briefly discusses some points you should remember from 3DS Max, such as camera lens focal length. 35mm is standard, less than 35mm is a wide angle lens (that distorts with a fish eye effect), and longer than 35mm is a telephoto lens (that distorts by removing depth from the scene). You should practice creating a camera and switching a viewport to display it.

MEL scripts

Mr. Luhta explains that all the buttons on a shelf in Maya work because they activate MEL scripts. MEL stands for Maya Embedded Language. Maya includes a script editor that can capture any action you take in the Maya interface as a script command.

He presents a lesson that illustrates the concept. Do it to get the concept:

  1. Open the Script Editor
  2. Perform an action, and watch the script commands appear in the editor
  3. Highlight the commands in the editor, drag and drop the commands onto a shelf

This will add a new button to the shelf that performs the captured task. It needs to be configured with an icon to make it pretty, and Luhta covers that as well. Work through the examples on pages 18 through 21.

Proxy

On pages 24 and 25, Mr. Luhta shows us how Maya uses proxies. In this usage a proxy is a low poly stand in for a high poly model. (You could also have a low poly original and a high poly proxy, but that defeats the purpose of the tool.) The difference between just using a different model (as we have done in 3DS Max when using textures for detail) is that Maya has a feature to toggle between showing the intended model in a scene and showing a proxy for the model in that scene. The purpose of using the proxy is to put less of a burden on the workstation while you are getting other parts of the scene right. This could, of course, lead to creating a scene whose parts exceed the limits of your workstation when they are assembled.

Note the use of referencing to toggle between original model file and the proxy file.

  1. The original model is made and saved.
  2. A proxy model is constructed and exported as a separate file. The original file has not been saved again, so its file contains only the original model.
  3. Then a new scene is created, referencing the scene with the original model.
  4. A proxy is added to the reference, the proxy file is selected, and it becomes possible to switch between original model and the proxy model by using the Reload Proxy procedure.

Splines

This text uses the term spline differently than the usage we have seen before. Mr. Luhta explains in chapter 2 that what we previously called an animation curve in a graph editor is what he calls a spline. In the Getting Started file, this word is used in yet another way, as the name for a type of tangent, which also appears on page 41 in Mr. Luhta's text. For the moment, let's agree to Mr. Luhta's general usage of the word to mean an animation curve.

Students should review chapter 2 which discusses:

  • splines
  • graphic depiction of animation
  • insertion of keys
  • key spacing and timing
  • tangent types (transition methods for keys)
  • common spline techniques

The material in this chapter repeats enough to be self-reinforcing. Note the six tangent types and their uses on page 41. After reading the chapter, examine the examples on pages 48 through 51, playing the provided reference file to become familiar with the effect of tangent types on motion.

At this point, the Luhta text becomes less useful until you have need for the more advanced lessons in it. We will move over to the Getting Started download from Autodesk.

Getting Started Lessons:

Chapter 2, Maya Basics

In Lesson 1, starting on page 16, the Getting Started text reviews some of the interface features we have already discussed. Go over this information to give yourself a second chance to see and remember it. Pay attention to the discussion of the menu bar selector on page 20. A problem you are likely to have when following the tutorials in this text is making sure you have the right menu bar displayed. If you do not see a menu choice that you must select, the wrong menu is probably up. If you do not see a shelf tool that you need, maybe the wrong shelf or wrong tab is presently selected.

Follow the instructions on page 21 to create a cube, then continue to page 23 to create a sphere.

If you are following along at home, there is a problem with the instructions about setting the project folder. These instructions begin on page 25. They are quite good. The problem is that the files that are installed in the Getting Started folder are incomplete. The downloadable file called gettinstartedmaya2010lessondata.zip has several files that need to be merged with the folder structure that comes with Maya. If you do not do this, you will be missing files that the tutorials assume you have. If you have to do this yourself:

  1. Copy the installed GettingStarted folder from its default location to a location you will use for work. In the classroom, this would be on your student data drive.
  2. Download and unzip the file named in the paragraph above. Copy the folders in the unzipped file tree into the tree that you put on your data drive. You don't have to overwrite any files: tell it no for that. Let it copy all the new stuff that you are missing. In the classroom, I will make a folder like this and put it on the classroom server for you to copy to your data drive.

Continue with Lesson 2 in the text, which begins on page 29. In this lesson, you will learn about the settings buttons that appear on many menu choices.

  • Note the use of the toolbox on page 32 to toggle between four panel view and single panel view of the scene. Note also that the four default panels are arrayed differently than we saw in 3DS Max. The top left viewport is top, the top right viewport is perspective, the bottom left viewport is front, and the bottom right viewport is simply called side.

    Experimentally, I find that side in Maya means the right side of the scene from the scene's point of view, which is the left side from the viewer's point of view. This is a small terminology problem, but it leads to issues and mistakes when following directions. Directions should always be clear. Example: Face someone and place two pens between you side by side. Would you tell the other person to remove the pen on the right side? No, you would tell them to remove the one on their right or on your right. If you wouldn't, you need to think about this some more.

    The model of a tree or a building may not have an inherent right or left, but the model of a creature (human, animal, alien) or a vehicle does. Be mindful of whose right or left is being referenced when you are given or giving instructions about the right or left side of a model or a scene.
  • The hot key to toggle the currently selected viewport to full screen is the space bar.
  • This may be a good place to mention that Maya uses the number keys above the QWERTY row to change display modes:
    • 4 - wireframe
    • 5 - shaded
    • 6 - shaded and textured

Complete the exercise starting page 35 to become familiar with using the toolbox to perform standard transforms in Maya: select, move, rotate, and scale. On some workstations, Maya does not show the handles for gizmos in all view panels. This is a video driver problem that you may be able to address on your own workstation. In the lab, we will just deal with it for now.

Another feature to note about Maya is that manipulator handles change color when you grab them. This struck me as more noticeable in Maya than in 3DS Max. Whichever handle you grab, red, green, or blue, it turns yellow while it is selected.

On page 37, the text illustrates using the channel box to modify properties of an object. This is like the tools on the modify panel in 3DS Max. Think of each property of an object as a channel and it becomes more memorable. Make the changes indicated to see how it is used. The immediate problem is how to see the channel box itself. If your version of Maya is like mine, it is presently showing the Attribute Editor in the panel on the right. In the illustration shown here, note that there is a vertical tab on the right edge of that panel, which allows you to toggle between the Attribute Editor and the Channel box. Click that Channel box tab, then continue with the exercise. Change your Translate Y value to exactly .5, and your Rotate Y value to either 22.5 or -22.5.

Channel Box Toggle

On pages 39 and 40, the text shows you how to duplicate the object you made in the exercises above. The method used in this exercise goes through the option box under Edit, Duplicate Special. The settings to use are less clear than they might be:

  • When you see the Duplicate Special Options screen, you will recognize that it has separate fields for the x, y, and z axes for the translate, rotate, and scale channels.
  • The notation for the values to use in these fields is inconsistent in the text.
  • Translate values should be 0, 1, and 0 because you are moving the copy one unit on the y axis.
  • Rotate values should all be 0, since you are not rotating the copy on any axis.
  • Scale values should be .9, 1, and .9 because you want the copy to be the same on the y axis, but 90% as large as the original on the x and z axes.

Complete this exercise to create a second layer of the base of the model.

Lesson 3 in this section reviews moving the camera in a particular viewport (Maya calls them views).

  • alt-right-drag right to dolly in; alt-right-drag left to dolly out of the scene (I found that up and down worked as well as left and right mouse movement.)
  • alt-left-drag to tumble/rotate/roll the scene (this only works in the Perspective view panel)
  • alt-mm-drag to track the camera up, down, left or right in the scene (I did not find that this worked reliably in the Perspective view. It works better in the orthographic views.)

The real lesson begins on the bottom of page 46. The text has you create and manipulate two cubes, a cylinder, and a sphere to make a column for the Greco-Roman temple model you are creating.

  1. Create, modify, move, and name a polygon cube as directed for the pedestal.
  2. Create, modify, move, and name a polygon cylinder as directed for the shaft.
  3. Copy the pedestal and modify the copy as indicated to make the capital. Note that the capital is a little smaller than the pedestal.
  4. If you have not already turned off Interactive Creation for NURBS, do it now. Open the Create menu, hover over NURBS primitives, and make sure that the Interactive Creation box is not checked.

    Create a NURBS sphere as directed to create the base of the column. Why NURBS? The sphere will be modified in the steps through page 50, and it will look better being composed of curves (NURBS) instead of polygons. Also, do not confuse the base of the column with the base of the temple, which consists of the two octagons you have already made.

On page 52, follow the directions to make a group from the components of the column.

  • Note that you shift-click to add objects to a current selection set, you ctrl-click to remove them from a current selection set.
  • Use the Edit, Group, Options command to create a group from the selection set.

On the same page, the text brings up the subject of nodes. You can think of nodes as the parts that an object is made from. For example, we have been taught to think of a cube as a "primitive" object, but in a model Maya creates a cube from six nodes that are planes. Each of these planes is related to the others in a hierarchy, such that changes in one will affect properties of the others. As you modify an object, each modification becomes a node of the object as well, like the modifiers in the Modifier Stack in 3DS Max. We can also say that groups have nodes and hierarchies have nodes: all the objects that have been added to the group, and all the objects that are related in the hierarchy. You can also say that nodes are pieces of information about an object. A node can specify an object, a texture, a surface, or even another node.Everything you make is composed of nodes, which are simpler types of objects and other types of components.

On page 53, the text introduces the Hypergraph, which gives you the ability to see and modify the relationships between nodes. In the exercise:

  1. First, maximize your current viewport. On that viewport's menus, open the Panels menu, open the Layouts submenu, and choose Two Panes Stacked to give you more room in each pane.
  2. In step 2, switch the lower panel to a Hypergraph Hierarchy view as instructed.
  3. Modify the Hypergraph to show a view of the scene hierarchy. (It is probably already displayed.)
  4. Continue modifying the view to display the hierarchy of nodes in the temple scene. (Only the group contains a hierarchy at this point.) Like all hierarchies, there is a parent-child relationship: The group is the parent of the four child nodes in it. The text almost explains that a parent-child relationship can also be called a root-leaf relationship.

Continue with the next exercise, changing the name of the group from the Hypergraph view, and using both panels to move the column group. Follow directions on page 55 to duplicate the column. Continue on page 56 to move the duplicate, which was created in the same position as the original column.

On the bottom of page 56, the text explains that Maya has three buttons on the status line that toggle between three selection modes, also called masks.

  • Hierarchy - allows you to select entire groups/hierarchies and members of groups/hierarchies (and objects that are not in hierarchies)
  • Object - allows you to select objects in the scene (default setting)
  • Component - allows you to select parts of objects (subobjects)

Although Object is the default mask, Maya will stay in whichever selection mode you choose until you change it again or restart the program. The next set of icons to the right on the status line change to become refinements on whichever selection mode you choose.

Follow the instructions on page 57 to select the two columns you made. This selection set will be used next. The text goes on to discuss pivot points, and tells us that a group is given the pivot point of its parent node, which is placed at the origin point of the scene. This seems odd, but manageable once you know it. If you have been following along, the base of the temple is also centered on the scene origin point. This makes the next steps practical.

On page 58, create a group of the two selected columns. Note that the gizmos for manipulating the group appear at the origin point, as the text describes. Use the Duplicate Special command as instructed to duplicate the group while rotating the duplicates around the y axis. This ends lesson 3 in this chapter.

Lesson 4 continues to build the temple model. Before continuing, we are told how to make the existing elements in the scene into templates. This is like freezing elements in a 3DS Max scene: the objects are still there, but their appearance changes, and they are protected from changes until we turn this setting off.

  1. Follow the direction at the top of page 61. Set the selection mask to Hierarchy and select all the existing objects in the temple scene.
  2. Select Display, Object Display, Template to treat all these objects as templates.

The text moves on, teaching you a new word. The entablature goes between the columns and the roof of the temple. In this case, you will make a torus (ring) that will sit on top of the columns. Create the the torus and position it as described on the bottom of page 61.

The text informs us that geometric forms like those we have made in this chapter have components that control their shape. The torus that you just made needs to be modified a bit. To do this, turn to page 62.

  1. Activate the side view, and zoom in, similar to the view on page 62.
  2. You will deal with part of the torus object, so switch selection mode to Component.
  3. Right-click the torus, and hold the mouse button down. You will see a marking menu appear. This menu is context sensitive, like the quad menus in 3DS Max. It is not as pretty, but it serves a similar purpose. Choose Control Vertex by dragging your mouse pointer to that choice and releasing the mouse button. This will place you in a component mode for the torus. This is like a subobject mode in 3DS Max, but instead of accessing a subobject, you are accessing a control node of the object.
  4. Control Vertices (CVs) are like bezier handles for the curved surface of a NURBS object. Marquee select the CVs above the torus.
  5. Drag the CVs up to change the object's shape. (This time, the text does not specify how much to modify the object.)
  6. Leave the component mode for the object by opening its marking menu again and choosing Object Mode.

Continue with the instructions that follow to create a half sphere, rotate it, place it as the roof of the temple, and deform it on one axis with the scale tool.

Read and follow the instructions on the bottom of page 64 to untemplate the templated objects.

  1. Change the selection mode to Hierarchy.
  2. Click the button indicated to specifically select Hierarchy:Template objects.
  3. Marquee select everything in the scene. Only templated objects will actually be selected.
  4. Select Display, Object Display, Untemplate.
  5. Click the Hierarchy subselection button for Hierarchy:Root.

Earlier, you saw how to use the option settings box and the channel box to modify an object while you were creating it and after you created it. On page 65, you are introduced to the Attribute Editor, to display and modify more properties of an existing object. As illustrated on page 66, the Attribute Editor has a tab for each node that affects the object, and a set of attributes on each tab. Note in step 3 of this exercise that the tab with the same name as the selected object is called the transform node. It is similar to the option settings tab that could have been used when such an object was created, but some fields are different as well. All visible objects will have transform nodes.

The next tab is the shape node, which has settings for the object's original default shape. Not all objects will have shape nodes.

The roof object should also have a node for the step in its construction when it was created as a sphere: makeNurbSphere is that node.

Two more nodes are described in step 6, both of which relate to shading. As such, you can imagine that it is possible to change the shading and kind of shader used for an object through such nodes. This is covered in the next section on surface materials.

The last section of this chapter applies a material to the model. It begins on page 67, by adding a material to the scene objects :

  1. Use the marking menu to switch back to Object mode.
  2. Marquee select all objects in the scene.
  3. Use the menu dropdown selector to switch to the Rendering menu.
  4. Select Lighting/Shading, Assign New Material, Blinn. (You will recall that Blinn is a kind of general purpose shader.)
  5. The Attribute Editor should still be open. Name the shading material as noted in the text.

The next section should be a bit familiar:

  1. Click the gray box (color swatch) to the right of the Color attribute.
  2. A color chooser dialog box appears. In the example is is set for the HSV color method. Pick a color.
  3. Close the color choose by clicking the Accept button.

The next several steps just review your actions. Save your work, and review this chapter.

Chapter 3, Polygonal Modeling

The Getting Started text continues logically to discuss three kinds of modeling: polygons, NURBS, and subdivision surfaces. This chapter discusses modeling with polygons.

Page 72 starts with some definitions:

  • A polygon model is a network of flat surfaces (which have three or more sides), which connect to make a polygon mesh. The surfaces are called faces instead of polygons. Vertices and edges mean what you would expect.
  • A wireframe view displays the edges of a model.
  • Polygon meshes can re rendered with hard or smooth edges.
  • Polygon surfaces require less descriptive information that the other two types.

Before starting lesson 1, carry out the preparation steps that start on page 72,

  1. Select New Scene to clear any current settings.
  2. Turn on Construction History as instructed.
  3. Select the Polygons menu if it is not currently displayed.
  4. Turn on the Help Line as instructed.
  5. Set your project folder as instructed, but make sure you use the folder you copied to use for projects.
  6. The text advised you to save your work incrementally, as I have always told you to do.
  7. Turn off Soft Selection as instructed.
  8. Carry out the steps on pages 74 and 75 as well.

Lesson 1 (which has 20 major sections)

The lesson creates a helmet (like a motorcycle helmet). Before you begin the model, load the reference images with the process on page 76

  1. Switch to four view mode.
  2. Use the menu in the Front view panel. Select View, Image Plane, Import Image.
  3. Navigate to the HelmetFront.jpg file in the file browser.
  4. Select Open in the file browser. The reference image appears in a plane perpendicular to your selected view of the scene. Note that this process does not require that you make a box or a plane first, as we did in 3DS Max.
  5. Move to the Side view panel, and repeat the command in step 2.
  6. Navigate to the HelmetSide.jpg file as instructed.
  7. Select Open.

The text notes that these images were created to match when used this way. If you were using non-matching photos, you might have to move or scale the imported images.

The next sequence makes the images partially transparent to make modeling easier. On page 77:

  1. Go back to the Front panel. In its menu select View, Select Camera. This is kind of like changing the view in a 3DS Max viewport.
  2. If the Channel Box is not displayed, click its display toggle.
  3. Look for the Inputs section of the Channel Box, find the ImagePlane1, and click its name.
  4. Find the Alpha Gain attribute. Change its value to .25. (Remember that an Alpha Channel is a measure of transparency/opacity.)
  5. Go to the Side view panel and repeat the steps above for the other image plane.
  6. Go to the Perspective view panel. Select Show, Cameras.

The next part of the lesson creates a polygon by first making a cube. On page 78:

  1. The last step above should have put focus on the Perspective view panel. If you changed that, select that panel.
  2. Select Create, Polygon Primitives, Cube, Options button.
  3. Use the settings from the text: 14 units on each side, 2 height divisions, one width and one depth division.
  4. Click Create.

The text remarks that the cube is composed of four-sided polygons called quads. It demonstrates that quads are easily subdivided and smoothed on page 79:

  1. Select the cube if you deselected it. Select Mesh, Smooth, Options button. Choose Add Divisions Exponentially, and set Division Levels to 2.
  2. Click Smooth.

Rename the polygon mesh as instructed on the top of page 80.

The text informs us that we can set each view panel independently to show shaded view, wireframe view, or both (wireframe on shaded). We should be used to this from 3DS Max. The method to do it is a bit different. Continue with the instructions on page 80:

  1. In the perspective panel, right-click the mesh and the marking menu will pop up. Select Object Mode.
  2. The mesh is not selected yet. Left-click it to select it.
  3. In the menu for the current view panel (perspective), select Shading, Smooth Shade All. As you should expect, the mesh object will switch to shaded mode.
  4. On the panel menu, select Shading, Wireframe on Shaded. You should see the model as shaded, and you should see the edges of its polygons (quads).

The text points out that you can't presently see through the mesh to see the reference image. It addresses this by turning on the another shading mode. On page 81:

  1. Change to the side view panel. Toggle through three settings: Smooth Shade All, Wireframe on Shaded, and the new one, X-Ray. The mesh becomes partially transparent.
  2. Change the shading setting in the front view to X-Ray.

The next section switches to face subobject mode so you can delete some faces from the mesh. This is an idea we saw in a previous class: if the model is to be symmetrical, just model one half of it, then duplicate the half. The mode change is done through the marking menu. On page 82:

  1. Go to the top view panel. Right-click the mesh to open the marking menu. Select Face.
  2. The text tells you to marquee select (use a "bounding box") the left half of the mesh.

    Apparently, in this section of the text when the author says "left", it means viewer's left, not the model's left. As I mentioned above, this is poor notation, in that the model's left will remain its left regardless of rotation, while the modeler's left will change meaning as you change from one view panel to the next. For the moment, when this text says "left" it means the viewer's left in the current view panel. (This will change in a later exercise.)
  3. With the proper faces selected, press the Delete key to remove the faces from the mesh.

The mesh should now be more like a bowl, standing up on one edge.

  1. Follow the directions that start on page 83 to remove more faces with the Paint Selection Tool.
  2. Note that the tool does not select backfacing faces in the model. It appears to be in permanent "ignore backfacing" mode. Not an issue in this case, since there are no backfacing subobjects from this view. They were all removed in the previous exercise.

Note: I experimentally selected some faces earlier in the model (when it was still a "cube") by shift-clicking them. This method did select backfacing subobjects. Nice to know when you need to choose which way to do it.

Notice that the setting you made earlier for thicker border edges is now evident. This indicates that Maya uses the same definition for border that we learned in 3DS Max: a line that is the edge of a hole.

The text defines another term for the next section: edge loop. An edge loop is a line of connected edges that share vertices. Several of the edge loops will need to be aligned with the grid for this exercise. It begins on page 84:

  1. Switch to edge selection mode as instructed, using the marker menu.
  2. In the top view panel, locate the edge loop indicated by the largest black arrowhead in the top image on page 85. Double-click one edge in this loop. The whole loop should be selected.
  3. Click the Snap to Grids icon as instructed. It should look like a magnet and a waffle, not like a magnet and a bent waffle. (That is another icon.)
  4. Double-click the move tool to display its settings menu.
  5. Find the Move Snap Settings and turn off Retain Component Setting.
  6. Since the tools are configured, move the selected loop down a bit, and it should snap to the nearest grid line. The ring should be at the third grid line below the x axis. I found that it snapped to the bottom of the figure. The thing you want is to straighten the line, which should also happen.
  7. Click the Snap to Grids icon to turn the feature off again.
  8. Drag the ring line back to the second line below the x axis. You could have just dragged the line in step 6, but turning off the snap option in step 7 makes a subtle difference: you can drag the line wherever you like, not just to a grid line.
  9. Continue working in the top view. Straighten and align the horizontal ring line above the x axis and the vertical ring line to the right of the z axis.

The next exercises show you how continue modeling the helmet.

  • Pages 86-88, switch to vertex mode, move vertices as instructed.
  • Pages 88-90, use the Border Edge tool to select border edges of the model. Note that when you need to select several edges in a row, you can select the first in one view panel and the last in another where it can be seen better.
  • Continue modeling through the top of page 93, moving edges and vertices to match the reference image.

Having warned you to model in the orthographic view so far, the text changes attitude on page 93 to discuss modeling in the perspective view. Some terms are used that are almost familiar:

  • world space - the standard x, y and z axes in your scene; the default setting for the Move tool
  • normal - the normal of a subobject (a line perpendicular to the plane in which it exists) can be an axis of movement

Begin the exercise on page 93:

  1. Start in vertex mode, and find a vertex in the perspective view that needs to be moved, similar to the one shown on page 94.
  2. Double-click the Move tool to open its options screen (Move Settings editor).
  3. Choose the Normal option under Move settings.
  4. Click the problem vertex, and notice that you have a gizmo labeled with U, V, and N axes. The N axis is aligned with the normal of the vertex. U and V relate to the edge rings the vertex is on. It may now make more sense to you that we use U and V as "unwrap coordinates".
    You can use this gizmo to move the vertex in relation to the mesh, instead of in relation to the world.
  5. Continue the steps in this exercise to move vertices that need a normal adjustment. Compete step 7 when you are done to reset the move tool to the World setting.

There are times you will need to model something that does not logically begin with a standard primitive. To that end, the lesson continues with a series of exercises that create the lower section of the helmet, starting with a new polygon. Start at the bottom of page 95:

  1. Go to the side view panel. On its menu, select Mesh, Create Polygon Tool, Options button.
  2. On the options screen (Setting Editor), use the settings given. Set Limit the number of points to on. Set the limit for points to 6. If you did not know to do this, you would need to examine the reference art to guess how many points to use for the bottom cross section of the helmet's jaw protector. The text explains that this step will make sure the polygon is closed when the last vertex is placed.
  3. Consult the image at the top of page 96. Note that the text warns you to place the vertices in a particular order, in a counter-clockwise pattern. You may remember that closed forms have a "first vertex" that serves an important function.
    The order and direction of formation are both important in this exercise because some extruded surfaces will be deleted in a few steps, and you will need the chain of vertices to remain unbroken when this occurs.
    Place the vertices as indicated in the text.
  4. Press q to quit the Polygon tool.

The new polygon is considered an object. The text tells you to convert it to a face on page 96:

  1. Choose Select, Convert Selection, To Faces.

On page 97, the text describes extruding your new polygon:

  1. Change the perspective view to a single panel view.
  2. Select the new polygon. Select Edit Mesh, Extrude. (Note that Edit Mesh is a separate menu a good distance to the right of the Edit menu.) A new gizmo (manipulator) appears on the screen.
  3. The picture in the text does not show the reference image, but it is clear that you must be able to see the reference image to extrude properly here. Begin by extruding the polygon in the direction of the blue control handle as instructed.
  4. Press g as instructed. This command does not repeat the last extrusion. It only marks the end of the current extrusion.
  5. Step 5 explains the circle that appears around the extrude gizmo. Click it to to access rotation controls to change the angle of the next extrusion. The text hints that you may also need to change the scale and position of the polygon that you are about to extrude, or have just extruded in this exercise, to match the reference art.
  6. Press g again, when you are satisfied with the second extrusion. Create a third extrusion, so your model resembles the images on page 98.
  7. Save your work incrementally.

You will have noticed that the lower section of the helmet does not match the thickness (or lack of it) in the rest of the helmet at this point. This was probably done on purpose so that the next section of the lesson could explain removing faces again. Continue on page 99:

  1. Change the perspective view so that it resembles the images at the top of page 99.
  2. Select five faces (shown in beige in the text image) on the lower helmet section.
  3. Press Delete to remove those faces. The lower section of the helmet will look like a shell, like the rest of the helmet.

The text remarks that you now have two separate meshes that need to be joined. This will happen a lot in modeling. The text advises us that bridging the two meshes will not work unless the areas to be bridged have the same number of edges. Seems logical when you think about it. (We will hit another rule in a few steps.) Continue with the lesson on page 100:

  1. Continue in the perspective view. Select the bottom edges of the helmet. (After you switch to edge mode.)
  2. Click Edit Mesh, Extrude. Drag the selected edges toward the inside of the helmet as instructed, making a lip about one grid unit deep.

The text continues modeling on the bottom of page 100, but changes to a new numbered instruction list:

  1. Select the edges indicated in orange in the image at the top of page 101, but follow the instructions at the bottom of page 100.
  2. Click Edit Mesh, Extrude. Create another lip from the selected edges as instructed.

At this point, the author realizes that the lower section of the helmet is only a jaw protector. The reference art shows that this needs to be a mouth and nose protector as well. Time to fix this issue. Continue on page 101:

  1. Right-click the lower section of the helmet and switch to vertex mode.
  2. The text provides a image to show which vertices to to select. I will suggest that this view of the model may not be the best one to use for this modification. Select the first and second vertices of the original polygon and the same two vertices in the first extrusion. (They are shown in yellow on page 101.) Move them as instructed to match the reference art.
  3. Adjust other vertices as needed.

Like similar features in 3DS Max, the bridge feature requires that the two meshes be joined together as one object before it will work. Continue at the bottom of page 102:

  1. In the perspective view, right-click either mesh and select Object mode.
  2. Click the main helmet mesh to select it, then shift-click the lower mesh to select it as well.
  3. Select Mesh, Combine. The two meshes are now one logical object, even though they are still "physically" separate meshes.

The author has intentionally left a problem in the meshes: the number of edges do not yet match. He provides a method to correct this: insert two new edge loops in the ring of large polygons in the lower section of the main helmet. Continue on page 103:

  1. Select Edit Mesh, Insert Edge Loop Tool, Options button.
  2. Find the Maintain Position attribute, and set its value to Relative distance from edge.
  3. I think the language in this step is a little unclear. Refer to the images at the bottom of page 103. Note the dotted line arrow in the image on the right. It is drawn over the bottom edge of what may be the tallest polygon in the model. Drag the lowest edge covered by that arrow "up", in the direction indicated by the arrow, about a third of the height of the polygon the edge is part of. This should result in a new edge loop like the one shown in beige in the text.
  4. Drag the top edge of the same polygon down to create a new edge loop half way between the top of the polygon and the edge loop you made in step 3.
  5. Press q to quit the current tool. Click somewhere other than on the model to remove focus from the model.

On page 104, you finally are show how to bridge the two component meshes:

  1. You need a new tool again. Click Select, Select Border Edge Tool. Refer to the image at the bottom of page 104, and click the five edges on each mesh that you are going to connect with a bridge.
  2. Click Edit Mesh, Bridge, Options button.
  3. Set Divisions to 0, and click the Bridge button.
  4. Press q to quit the tool. Click somewhere off the model. If everything is good, save. Otherwise, see the note on page 105 about fixing the problem you may have.
  5. The text warns that this will not work if you did not follow instructions about setting your vertices properly back on page 95. If the process failed because the normals in the lower mesh are reversed, back up to before applying the bridge, select the lower mesh, and select, Normals, Reverse.

The main helmet is roughed in. Now, we need to add a new polygon for the visor, and to divide it into quads to match the rest of the helmet structure. Continue at the bottom of page 105:

  1. Initially, the face shield (visor) will be a single polygon that fills the open area between the top of the helmet and the nose and mouth protector. The text tells you to tumble the model so that you can see all the edges of this area, like the view shown on page 106.
    The visor opening is defined by a series of edges that are like a backwards letter C as you are facing the model. You will work with these edges in a counterclockwise pattern.
  2. Select Edit Mesh, Append to Polygon Tool, Options button.
  3. Find the Keep new faces planar setting. Set its value to off. We do not want the visor to be flat.
  4. Note the instructions in step 4. The starting edge is indicated by the upper arrow in the first image on page 106. Click the starting edge once to select the mesh you are working with, and click a second time to actually select the first edge.
  5. Click the next edge in counterclockwise sequence, indicated by the lower arrow in the first image on page 106. You should see a new polygon appear, like the one in that same image.
  6. Click the remaining edges of the visor opening, continuing in counterclockwise order, until the opening is covered by the new polygon.
  7. Press q to quit the current tool and return to the selection tool. The text remarks that this new polygon is a multisided polygon, also called an n-gon. Save incrementally.

The visor needs to be split into quads. Why? Because it needs some shaping, and because the rest of the model is made of quads. You are most likely to encounter engines that expect the model to be made of quads or triangles. Quads can be split into triangles if needed, so quads are the best choice. Continue on page 107:

  1. Select Edit Mesh, Split Polygon Tool, Options button.
  2. Set or confirm the listed settings: Split only from edges (on), Use snapping points along the edge (on), and Snapping tolerance (100). The text explains that this will make sure your splits meet the edges of the of the helmet and will only to to the ends or middles of existing edges.
  3. The text says to tumble the view so you can see all upper and lower edges of the face shield. This may not be possible. If not, adjust the view as you go.
  4. Look at the illustration on page 108. You will work with vertices at this point, but don't switch to vertex mode. Click the top inner edge of the visor polygon as shown by the top arrow in the illustration. Drag the corner vertex (the visor polygon's first vertex) to your right, to mark the vertex that the new polygon will share.
  5. Click and drag the lower edge of the visor polygon as indicated in the illustration.
  6. Press the y key as instructed to split the face, creating a new polygon.
  7. Press the g key to select the tool again, and repeat the process above to split off the other illustrated polygons. Press y to finish each split, press g to continue with the tool.

The text remarks that one polygon in the face place is still five sided. This is not apparent from the illustrations. Continue with the procedure on page 109:

  1. Look at the second illustration on page 109. Note the position of the arrow on the right. Follow the instruction to use the Split Polygon Tool to pluck a new vertex in the position indicated.
  2. Create another vertex in the position marked by the arrow on the left in the same illustration. Drag it across the face plate to the vertex created in step 1. Make the vertices as close to the same vertical position as you can.
  3. Press the y key. All the faces created in the procedure above should now be splint in two.
  4. Press the q key to quit the Split Polygon Tool.

Move the vertices of the new edge loop by following the instructions on page 110:

  1. Move the first two vertices on the z axis as indicated.
  2. Switch the Move tool's settings to Normal mode before moving the remaining vertices, one at a time. The first two could have been moved on their normal axes, but the other vertices need to be moved this way.
  3. Switch the Move tool's settings back to World mode.

The next section shows you how to insert several edges that are not on a loop. Continue on page 111:

  1. Select Edit Mesh, Insert Edge Loop tool, Options button. This does not sound like what I wrote above. Hang on, it will become clear.
  2. Change the settings as instructed, and think about them. Multiple Edge Loops: On means there will be several edges inserted. Number of edge loops: 4 sets the number of new edges to be inserted. Auto Complete: Off means that the edges will be bounded by the two edges you are about to select. This gives you a method to place several new, equally spaced edges across any polygon you like.
  3. Click the two edges indicated in the illustration on page 111.
  4. Press the y key to insert the edges. The edges you clicked above will be connected by four new edges, turning one polygon into five.
  5. Deselect all by clicking off the mesh.
  6. Press q to quit the tool.

You want each of the new edges to resemble half of an upside down V. Continue on page 112:

  1. Switch to vertex mode with the maker menu.
  2. Select the vertices shown in yellow on page 112.
  3. Double-click the move tool to open its options screen (settings editor).
  4. Click the Set to Edge button. This will tell the vertices to follow an edge you will pick out.
  5. Select an edge that follows the line of the edge the vertices are already on. Note that this process would also allow you to pick an edge that flowed in a different direction.
  6. Drag a move handle for the vertices to resemble the shape shown on the top of page 113.
    Note the warning in this step. You are moving vertices, but you are also changing the length of edges. Do not move a vertex into a corner. This would not remove the edge below the vertex, it would reduce the length of that edge to zero, which would cause an error in the scene.
  7. Click off the mesh to remove focus from the vertices.
  8. Open the move tool settings editor again, and reset it to original values with the Reset button.

Continue on the bottom of page 113:

  1. Right click the helmet and switch to face mode.
  2. Select the two faces shown in brown in the illustration on page 114. The text reminds you to use shift-click to select more than one object. It also advises you to select the lower of the two faces first.
  3. Select Edit Mesh, Extrude. The selected faces will be extruded into the helmet.
  4. Use the blue handle to extrude the faces a short distance into the helmet.
  5. Quit the extrude tool by pressing q.
  6. Compare the last illustration on page 114 to the one at the top of page 115. When you extruded the faces, two new polygons (shown in dark gray on page 114) were created along the axis of symmetry of the helmet. Select and delete them so the helmet resembles the illustration on page 115.
  7. Save your work incrementally.

Okay, the text reveals that making those inset faces broke the quad nature of the next face over: it now has eight edges. To the casual observer, five of those edges will look like one edge. Maya will see separate edges every time an edge is broken by a new vertex. We want to return the model to having four sided faces, so that smoothing and other features will work properly. The next section explains how to simplify this situation. Continue on page 115:

  1. The polygon with too many sides will be split into three quads in this sequence. Select Edit Mesh, Split Polygon tool.
  2. The method to use is like dragging vertices across the figure to make new edges. Click and drag to the point indicated in the illustration on page 116.
  3. Click and drag as indicated. The result will look like a triangle, but the left side is actually two sides.
  4. Press y to make the cut.
  5. Refer to the illustrations on page 117. Click and drag to make another cut that will create the polygons shown in the images.
  6. Continue as instructed.
  7. Press y to make the cut.
  8. Press q to quit the tool. Verify the number of sides of each of the resulting polygons.

The text explains that Maya maintains a construction history for objects. It is something like the modifier stack in 3DS Max, and it can be simplified for similar reasons. It is something more than the modifier stack, in that it tracks most major and minor changes to the model. Look at the list of nodes associated with changed to our helmet model described on page 117. Each of the named nodes has its own set of attributes, which can still be modified to affect the final model.

Page 118 explains that you can remove the history nodes when you are sure you do not need to change the features they control. Save your scene first, then follow the steps on page 118 to remove the construction history for the helmet model:

  1. Change the selection mode for the helmet to object mode, then select the helmet.
  2. Open the Channel box if it is not open. Note the history nodes, now that you know what they are.
  3. Click Edit, Delete by Type, History.
  4. Save again, with a new name. It is still better to be able to go back in time if you need to.

If everything has gone right so far, it is time to mirror the mesh. Begin with the procedure on page 119 to make sure all vertices that should be on the axis of symmetry actually are on it.

  1. Work in the Front view panel, making it large enough to see the positions of separate vertices. The text does not mention it, but you should switch to vertex mode now.
  2. Marquee select all vertices that should be on the axis of symmetry, the y axis.
  3. Turn on Snap to Grids.
  4. Open the settings for the Move tool. Set Retain component spacing to off. You want all the vertices to move to the same position. You don't want them to keep any relative spacing they might have.
  5. Drag the red arrow on the move tool just a little to cause the vertices to snap onto a grid line.
  6. Drag the aligned vertices, as a group, to the y axis.
  7. Turn off Snap to Grid.
  8. Deselect the vertices by clicking off the model.

Continue with the procedure on page 120:

  1. Switch to object mode and select the helmet mesh.
  2. Click Mesh, Mirror Geometry, Options button. Set Mirror Direction to -X. (Meaning, mirror toward the negative side of the x axis.) Set Merge with original to on. Set Merge vertices to on. (You don't want extra vertices on the border that will no longer be a border.)
  3. Click the Mirror button. Save with a new name. If the model does not resemble the version in the text, go back and correct as needed.

The text discusses making a high polygon version of the model by smoothing it. You will do this, and then adjust the model so that important features are not lost. Continue with the procedure on page 122:

  1. You should already be in this mode, but make sure. Select object mode, and select the now completed helmet mesh.
  2. Click Proxy, Subdiv Proxy, Options button. Set Division Levels to 2. Set Mirror Behavior to None. Set Subdiv Proxy Shader to Keep.
  3. Click the Smooth button. The proxy function creates a second version of the helmet that is smoothed. It is currently in the same position as the original mesh.
  4. In object mode, select both models. A marquee selection should work for this.
  5. The text says to press the key to the left of the number 1 on the regular keyboard. It shows two wrong symbols for this key. It should look like this `, which is an accent grave. The text shows an apostrophe at the top of page 123, and an accent acute in the note on that page, both of which are wrong. The online help for Maya confirms that the unshifted accent grave/tilde key is the correct key.
    This is explained as being the Toggle Proxy Display key, which toggles between the hi res and low res versions of the model.
  6. The text tells you to press the ~ key, which is just the shifted version of the same key again. When used this way, it means show both hi res and low res versions at the same time.
  7. The text says to select only the smooth version of the helmet and to move it to the left so that you can see the two models side by side. Note that the smoothed version has lost detail on all edges, including the vents in the front of the mask. It should also be clear now that the smoothed version has many more polygons in it. You can't smooth a curve without more edges.

The last series of exercises tells you how to make edges hard, soft, or creased, to apply the effect of each one as needed on a smoothed mesh. Continue on page 124:

  1. The text refers to the helmet model you made first as the low resolution mesh. It calls the smoothed version the high resolution mesh. Go to object mode for the low res mesh and select it.
  2. Select Soft/Hard Edges. You should find this under Display, Polygons, Soft/Hard Edges. You need to zoom in on the illustration on page 124 to see that some edges are shown with solid lines (hard shaded edges) and some are shown with dotted lines (soft shaded edges).
  3. The text inexplicably does not number the nest step. It does put an arrow bullet next to the instruction to select Normals, Soften Edge. This will convert all edges in the low res model to soft edges.

Continue on page 125 with the procedure to harden selected edges:

  1. Switch to edge mode on the low res mesh.
  2. Refer to the illustration on page 126 to see which edges you are to select. You could shift select them, or use the Select Edge Loop tool as the text suggests. Select the inner rim of the visor by one of these methods.
  3. With the set of edges selected, click Normals, Harden Edge.

The change to the low res model has been communicated to the high res model, but it has not been told to use that information. The next step does this. Continue on page 126:

  1. Take focus off the low res model. Select the high res model of the helmet.
  2. Move to the Channel box. Find and select the proxy channel.
  3. Find the Keep Hard Edge attribute and set it to on.
  4. The next step tells you to set the grill edges to hard as well. It does not mention that you should return to the low res model to do this. Switch back to the low res model, and make the changes. The setting you just made for the high res model does not have to be repeated.

The next section uses the Crease function. You will see that a creased edge is less sharp than a hard edge, but more sharp than a soft edge. Continue on page 127:

  1. As usual, refer to the illustration on the next page (page 128) to see which edges to select on the low res model. This time they are shown in dark blue instead of the usual beige. Select those edges.
  2. Select Edit Mesh, Crease tool.
  3. Adjust the amount of crease with the instruction in this step: hold down the middle mouse button, and drag right to raise the crease value. The text does not say how much to increase it.
  4. Save the scene again. The model should resemble the second set of images on page 128. This marks the end of this lesson.

Lesson 2

The lesson modifes an existing mesh, sculpting a goblin face from an existing human model. The lesson begins on page 130.

Open the file indicated in the text, and follow the instructions to extend the figure's nose with a soft selection on a vertex. Things to note:

  • Pressing the b key toggles the soft selection option on or off.
  • Holding the b key allows you to drag your mouse left to decrease or right to increase the falloff area of the soft selection.
  • The exercise has you rotate a vertex, which should seem strange. This is effective in this case because it affects the falloff area of the selection as well.

The next exercise discusses camera based selection, which has the same effect as "ignore backfacing" in 3DS Max. This is a modification to marquee selection, which the text has called using a bounding box up to now. You may recall that up to now, marquee selection has selected objects on the front and back of the current view of the model. Continue on page 135.

  1. Open the tool settings for the Select tool.
  2. Find the Marquee selections indicated and turn on Camera based selection.
  3. Choose vertex mode on the model.
  4. Use a marquee to select only the five vertices shown in yellow in the illustration on page 136.
  5. Press b once to turn on soft selection.
  6. Hold the b key and adjust the falloff of the soft selection to affect the chin of the model.
  7. Use the move tool to adjust the shape of the chin. Refer to the illustration on page 137 for the author's result. Yours may be different.

The nex exercise discusses making the same change on both sides of the model. In this case, changing one cheek and affecting both. Continue on page 137:

  1. Open the move tool settings.
  2. Turn on Reflection, and set x as the Reflection axis.
  3. Select vertex mode on the model.
  4. Select vertices as instructed. Note that the text says to select vertices on the left cheek. The illustration shows that they are selected on the model's left side, not your left. In this case it will make no difference, since reflection will affect both sides. (I suspect this book was written by a committee.)
    If soft selection is not engaged, press b to turn it on.
  5. The language in this step is ambiguous. Use the x axis handle of the move tool to make the models cheeks thinner.

Continue on page 139:

  1. Turn off soft selection.
  2. Refer to the illustration on page 140. Select the outermost vertex of the model's left eyebrow.
  3. Shift-double-click (how odd) the innermost vertex of the same eyebrow. You should see a line of vertices selected like the illustration on page 140.
  4. Turn on soft select again.
  5. Hold the b key and adjust the falloff to affect the area around the eyebrow.
  6. The text says to open the settings for the rotation tool. It does not say why, so selecting it seems fine.
  7. Rotate the eyebrows as indicated. Refer to page 141 for the desired result.

The text explains that the soft selection tool uses a spherical volume reference by default. For some modeling, like the ear, you will want to use a surface reference instead. Continue on page 141:

  1. Open the settings for the move tool.
  2. Find the soft selection settings, and change the Falloff mode to Surface.
  3. Adjust the model so you can work on its left ear. You are still working in reflection, so both ears will change in this exercise.
  4. Select vertex mode for the model.
  5. The text says to select a vertex on the tip of the ear. Look at the top image on page 142, and you will see that you should start with a vertex that is more posterior than the top of the ear. It will become the new point of the ear, so the vertex you choose will determine the ultimate shape and slope of the ear. (Is there a difference between an elf, a goblin, and a Vulcan ear? Better check with the art director.)
  6. Hold down the b key, and adjust the falloff as instructed. You want to affect the top half of the ear, not the whole thing.
  7. Shape the ear with the move tool.
  8. Switch to the scale tool to make the ears thinner.
  9. The director seems to want the ears flaring away from the head a bit, so move the tips to resemble the image on page 143.

The next exercise changes the eye sockets with another kind of subobject selection. Continue on page 143:

  1. Open the Select tool settings.
  2. Find Drag under Common Selection Options. Turn it on.
  3. Turn on Camera based selection.
  4. Select vertex mode for the model from the marking menu.
  5. Turn off soft selection for moment. Use the mouse like a brush. Drag over the vertices indicated in the image on page 144.
  6. Turn soft selection back on. Adjust the selection falloff to resemble the effect shown on page 145.
  7. Use the move tool. Push the eyelids into the skull a bit. This will cause the eyes to pop out, but you will fix that in a moment.
  8. Turn off soft selection again.
  9. Switch the model to object mode.
  10. Select both eyes, and move them behind the eyelids where they belong.
  11. Change the Selection tool setting from Drag back to Marquee.

One more exercise for this model and this chapter. The last tool discussed is seam tolerance, which will be used to fatten the tip of the model's nose. Continue on page 146:

  1. Switch the model to vertex mode.
  2. You are still in reflection mode. Select one of the vertices shown in yellow on page 146.
  3. Turn soft selection on.
  4. Adjust the falloff to affect the end of the nose. Again, refer to the illustration for the desired effect.
  5. Open the settings for the Move tool.
  6. Find the Reflection settings and click the Reset button.
  7. Find the Seam Tolerance setting, and set it to 5.
  8. Move the vertex away from the nose so the nose becomes wider.

The last instruction tells you how to unhide a hat that has been in the scene on another layer. Go to the channel box. Find the hat layer. Click the first empty box in it.

Chapter 4, NURBS Modeling

The Getting Started text continues with a chapter on NURBS (non-uniform rational b-splines). The first lesson is similar to drawing and lathe operations we have already done in 3DS Max. Review it when you have time. We will continue with lesson 2 on page 156.

Lesson 2, Sculpting a NURBS Surface

Begin this lesson on page 157:

  1. Before you start this chapter switch to the Surfaces menu set, and turn off soft selection. Make sure this is done for all exercises that do not say otherwise in this chapter.
  2. Click Create, NURBS Primitives, Sphere, Options button. To be cautious, click Reset Settings as instructed. Set radius to 6, number of sections (vertical curves) to 30, and number of spans (horizontal curves) to 30. Then click the Create button.

    The text tells us that Maya calls the vertical and horizontal curves of the sphere's wireframe isoparms. Each intersection is not only a vertex, but a control vertex (CV). The note on page 158 mentions that a NURBS surface can be displayed with more detail, but that display mode does not add more isoparms or more CVs.
  3. Name the sphere. (The actual name is not important.)
  4. Rotate the sphere 90 degrees on its z axis. It is now on its side.
  5. Adjust the ScaleX value for the sphere so it becomes more ovoid, or egg shaped. Its okay that it does not have a big end and a little end. Note that this changes the sphere along its local x axis not the scene's x axis. Modify the view in the perspective panel as indicated.

The lesson advises us to add a material to the model surface that will make modeling it easier. Continue on page 158:

  1. Select the model and press 5 to turn on shading.
  2. Access the maker menu and choose Assign New Material, Blinn.
  3. Apply the settings given for the Blinn shader. The model should resemble the image at the top of page 159.

The text introduces methods for sculpting the model. Continue on page 159:

  1. Select the model. Click Edit NURBS, Sculpt Geometry Tool, Options button. Click Reset Tool (just in case)
    Review the sculpting operations and their explanations in the text.
    • push - depresses the surface on its normal axis
    • pull - raises the surface on its normal axis
    • smooth - averages bumps and ridges where you drag a brush
    • relax - reduces bumps and ridges, but does not change the basic shape
    • erase - removes the effects of the tools above
  2. Experiment with the model to get a feel for each of the named tools.
  3. When you are finished experimenting, select the erase tool, and click the Flood button to erase all sculpting changes.
  4. The lesson begins at this point. The text tells you to select Push, set the radius to .25, and to drag between two horizontal isoparms as indicated in the image on page 160. You should see no effect. The text explains that this low setting for radius did not contact any control vertices.
  5. Change the radius to 2, then repeat the drag you just made. The text notes that this should produce a result. It does not mention how to know what an effective radius for the tool would be. It does however suggest that you will change the radius value often when using these tools. This implies a series of trial an error changes, learning the effective radius setting for each model you use.
  6. Flood erase to clear the changes from the model.
  7. Change the radius to .5 as instructed and drag along a vertical isoparm, then a horizontal isoparm. You should see a thinner ridge for the vertical drag, due to the higher density of vertical isoparms and their CVs.
  8. Flood erase the changes again.
  9. Change the view of the scene so you are looking at one pole of the modified sphere. Refer to the image on page 162. Drag along a vertical isoparm again, and note the deformation that should occur at the pole itself. The text explains that this is cause by too many isoparms converging for the tool to work as intended.
  10. Erase all changes again. Change the view so you are centered on the z axis. This should allow you to sculpt with more control.

Continue on page 162 with a new modification:

  1. Follow the instruction to set the Max (not Maxs) Displacement of the Sculpt Geometry tool to 2.
  2. Drag a vertical pull stroke and note the height of the ridge.
  3. Change the Max Displacement value to 1.
  4. Drag another vertical stroke. The displacement should be about half the first one.
  5. Erase changes.
  6. Set Max Displacement back to 2.
  7. Drag a vertical pull stroke.
  8. The Opacity value should be 1. Change it to .2, 20% of the original value.
  9. Drag another vertical pull stroke. Note that the second ridge is lower again. Opacity is a very poor word to use for this effect, but note that its effect is like a fine tuner to reduce the effect of the pull stroke.
  10. Change Opacity to 1 again, and erase changes on the model.

You should have a feel for the pull operation of the Sculpt Geometry tool at this point. Continue on page 164 with the exercise to sculpt a nose on the model:

  1. Position the model or the scene as instructed.
  2. Reset the tool settings to default.
  3. Select the pull operation. Set Radius to 1 and Opacity to .2.
  4. New modification: select the Gaussian brush. The icon on its button gives an impression that this brush has a soft falloff.
  5. Refer to the illustration on page 155 to make the first downward stroke for the character's nose. Repeat the stroke several times, starting lower on the model each time to make a ridge that is highest at the lower end. Try a few strokes to the left and right from the tip of the nose to make the sides of the nose.
    The text offers more advise on using the sculpt tool:
    • Just click the mouse a few times in one spot to build it up
    • Flood is good for more than erasures. To smooth all lines, switch to Smooth operation, then engage flood as many times as needed to smooth all ridges in the model

Continue on page 165 with the process to add eye sockets:

  1. Switch to the push operation of the sculpt tool.
  2. Do not change the settings you used for the nose.
  3. Find the Stroke settings in the tool settings window, and turn on Reflection.
  4. Set the Reflection axis to x. Hover your mouse pointer over the model. You should see two push icons.
  5. Refer to the image at the top of page 166. Click multiple times to create the impression of eye sockets.

Continue on page 166 to sculpt some eye brow ridges:

  1. Switch to the pull operation. Leave the Reflection settings in place.
  2. The text is beginning to trust that you know what you are doing. Refer to the illustration on page 166. Drag, click, and smooth to get a result like the author's.

Before sculpting a mouth, the text explains that you need more isoparms in the area for the mouth to make more subtle lines. Continue on page 167 to add new isoparms to the model:

  1. Right click the model. Choose isoparm from the marking menu.
  2. Click the Select tool in the toolbox.
  3. Follow the instruction in the text. Click the indicated isoparm, and shift-click the two isoparms below it.
  4. Click Edit NURBS, Insert Isoparms, Options button. Choose Between Selections. Set Isoparms to Insert to 2. Click Insert. (Note that the 2 value inserted two new isoparms between each pair of the three isoparms you selected in step 3.) Where you had three isoparms, now you should have seven.
    The text notes that vertical isoparms could be inserted by the same method.

Continue on page 168 to sculpt a mouth for the model. Follow the steps in this section, using the illustration on the next page as a guide, or shaping the mouth to suit yourself.

Chapter 5, Subdivision Surfaces

Chapter 5 begins with a discussion of the third surface type, Subdivision Surfaces, that combine some features of polygons and NURBS. The text cautions us that learning this material depends on understanding the polygon modeling chapter first.

Follow the setup procedure on page181 before beginning the lesson.

Lesson 1, Modeling a Subdivision Surface

The lesson models a human hand. Since we did this in 3DS Max, you will be able to compare the two programs with this lesson. Review the illustrations in this lesson before beginning it to get an overview of what you will do in it. Begin the lesson on page 181 by carrying out the preparation steps.

Review the lesson objectives on page 182.

Begin the lesson by creating a polygon cube according to the specifications on page 183. Note that Maya calls the figure a cube even though the dimensions are not the same on each side. (The 3DS Max term "box" would be more accurate.)

Continue on page 183:

  1. Select the cube you made above if it is not already selected. Click Modify, Convert, NURBS to Subdiv, Polygons to Subdiv.
  2. Press 3 on the keyboard for fine display.
  3. Press 5 on the keyboard for shaded display.

The lesson takes an odd turn here. Even though you have converted the object, you can treat it as though it had not been converted with the next step. Continue with the arrow step (not numbered) on page 184:

  • Choose Subdiv Surfaces, Polygon Proxy Mode.

You should see a wireframe polygon around the modified figure, similar to the illustration at the top of page 185. The text states that you can model this polygon with polygon tools, and the changes will be applied smoothly to the subdivision surface model. In a way, this is like applying a meshsmooth modifier in 3DS Max, but still being able to model the original polygon mesh. This is possible in Maya because you will not modify the original polygon mesh, you will modify the proxy that lies on top of the subdivision surfaces model. You are continuing to work on the top of the "modifier stack".

Change the generic name of the polygon proxy to LeftHand, as instructed in the text.

Continue on the second half of page 185:

  1. Switch the menu set to Polygons. Go to the Front view panel.
  2. Keep your selection on the proxy (LeftHand). Select Edit Mesh, Split Polygon Tool, Options button. Be cautious and click Reset Tool. You will make base polygons for fingers and for spaces between fingers. The thumb is not addressed yet. (In Maya 2012, this tool has been revised and renamed the Interactive Polygon Tool. When you open its settings panel, it is still called the Split Polygon Tool there.)
  3. The directions in the text are very imprecise. Refer to the illustrations on page 186 to see the desired placement of six new edges. The resulting polygons are meant to stand for four fingers and three spaces between them. Follow the instructions:
    1. Click the top edge to set a vertex.
    2. Click the bottom edge to set an endpoint for the new edge.
    3. If the new edge is not straight, middle mouse drag the newest vertex until it is straight.
    4. Press enter to split the face with the new edge.
  4. Repeat step 3 to create all the finger polygons.

At this point, we will move to another lesson. The 2012 and 2010 versions of Maya both present a problem in this exercise: the tool to split the polygons seems to allow one split, but not repeated splits.

Chapter 6, Animation

Chapter 6 has five lessons, several of which illustrate differences between 3DS Max and Maya. Before you begin these lessons, follow the setup procedure on pages 199 and 200.

Lesson 1, Keyframes and the graph editor

This lesson models a ball that flys over a wall and bounces off the ground. The lesson begins with a review of familiar terms: keyframe (key), frame rate, in betweens. As the chapter progresses, we learn that Maya records the value of many major attributes in each key by default, not just the values of attributes that changed from the last keyframe.