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In This Chapter

Now, you'll create a complete animation from scratch. Being told what Maya can do is one thing, but you can learn much more by diving in, exploring its features, and discovering its capabilities. To the beginning animator, creating a project might seem easy—like an extension of making a video. As you find out in this chapter, however, there's a lot more to it. Besides engaging the creative side of your brain, you also have to apply your organizational and problem-solving skills. You can create amazing scenes, but if they aren't organized efficiently, they can cause problems for co-workers or others who must work with your scenes. Or it could be troublesome for you when you return to edit your scene three months later!

This chapter familiarizes you with the steps that CG artists typically go through in Maya when building a project from scratch. Even if you already have some Maya experience, you might learn something. One of the best ways to learn new techniques is by watching what other people do—sometimes, you'll discover alternative, better ways of accomplishing tasks.

This chapter's tutorial lets you graze at the buffet of what Maya has to offer. As you complete a small project from beginning to end, you'll get a feel for the workflow the software package has right out of the box and will be introduced to the following concepts:

  • Getting more comfortable with the Maya interface In the previous chapters, you've learned the basics of the Maya interface. In this chapter, you'll apply that knowledge and increase your comfort level when working with Maya.

  • Learning the steps of the animation process In completing this mini-project, you'll model, light, texture, animate, and render—all the major steps every animation project requires.

  • A little bit of everything Work through a tutorial that touches on most of the basic and intermediate features Maya has to offer. You will have the opportunity to use soft body dynamics, path animation, NURBS, Paint Effects, texturing, and more!

  • Simple modeling and editing with NURBS By using one of Maya's two main modeling tools, you'll create objects for your scene.

  • Render your first scene in Maya After finishing the tutorial in this chapter, you'll have an impressive animation to render and show off!

Key Terms

isoparm A curve on a NURBS patch that shows the outline of the surface shape.

vertex A polygonal element—that is, an X, Y, Z description of a point's location in 3D space. Vertices can be connected with line segments known as edges. Three or more edges connected in a polygon shape represent a polygon face (which produces the surface).

control vertices (CVs) A NURBS element that is an editable point (not directly on a NURBS curve or surface) used to modify or edit NURBS geometry.

material A node in Maya that describes the properties of a surface and is built from other nodes that form a shader network. This network can include such variables as color and shininess. Phong, Blinn, and Lambert are examples of different material types in Maya.

raytracing A rendering method used to create realistic reflections and refractions on surfaces such as mirror and glass. As a high-quality alternative to reflection mapping, raytracing needs more computation, which sometimes results in longer render times.

dynamics A physics simulation. Rather than manually keyframe elements to create an animation, you apply mass, add gravity and other factors, and let Maya figure out the motion.

soft body dynamics Dynamics applied to “squishy” objects. When the object collides with something, it not only rebounds, but also flexes, stretches, and jiggles.

project A way to organize your scene information. Made up of several folders, a project contains a collection of scene files and other files, such as textures, generated for your scene.

Hotkeys to Memorize

spacebar hold Hotbox.

q Select mode.

w Translate mode.

e Scale mode.

r Rotate mode.

t Show manipulators.

4 Change current view to Wireframe mode.

5 Change current view to Shaded mode.

F2 Switch to Animation user interface.

F3 Switch to Modeling user interface.

F4 Switch to Dynamics user interface.

F5 Switch to Rendering user interface.

F8 Component selection mode.

spacebar tap with mouse cursor over a view Maximize or minimize viewport.

Ctrl+a Open Attribute Editor.

f Focus on object in a viewport.

right-click on object Display a shortcut menu of options.

Ctrl+d Duplicate.

g Repeat last command.

p Create a parent object when two or more objects are selected.

Ctrl+z Undo.

Shift+Z Redo.

Alt+v Open the Visor.

b+LMB-drag Resize brush when sculpting an object.

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