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Chapter 3. Creating Primitives and Text

Chapter 3. Creating Primitives and Text

Primitives are the building blocks of 3D modeling. They are premade sets of geometry used to simplify the creation of more complex shapes. Everything in nature, no matter how complex, can be broken down into just a few primitive shapes. Look around the room and try to break down each object into one or two primitive shapes. Is the object built around many cylinders like a metal chair, or is it a squashed cube like a door or a wall? Many objects are a combination of different primitives. An example of this is a bicycle. The bike's wheel is a combination of a cylinder for each spoke and a slim torus defining the tire shape. Other examples of using primitives to build more advanced shapes are creating a detailed face from a simple sphere and creating a building from a few well-placed cubes.

Primitives can be manipulated in many ways, making them an important part of Maya and other 3D programs. Primitives can be stretched, cut, scaled, translated, trimmed, and rebuilt. Because you can change primitives in so many ways, they can be essential tools for your workflow and great time-savers.

There are three major types of primitives in Maya: NURBS, polygons, and subdivisions (Windows only). It can be difficult at times to decide what type of primitive to use, so this chapter explains some of the strengths and weaknesses of NURBS (Figure 3.1) and polygons (Figure 3.2). Subdivisions are more advanced and are covered in Chapter 8.

Figure 3.1. The NURBS Primitive Sphere, Cube, Cylinder, Cone, Plane, Torus, Circle, and Square from top to bottom.


Figure 3.2. The Polygon Primitive Sphere, Cube, Cylinder, Cone, Plane, and Torus from top to bottom.



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