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Maya Tutorial One
by DJ MonkeyBoy

First get maya running
First time running setup: (make sure capslock is off this will mess all the hotkeys up)

Hold down the spacebar in the middle of the screen click hotbox controls (still holding spacebar) click show all. This will show all of our tools. The quick way to pick tools is to hold spacebar and cycle through them in this "hotbox" thing. However they are also at the very top of the screen. Now hit the spacebar real quick(press and release) while the mouse is in the main screen space. This will take you to the quad screen setup. Put the mouse on any of those windows and hit spacebar again to maximize it.

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These windows can be changed individually with their settings at upper left of each window (view, shading, lighting, show, panels) You can also check out other layouts if 4way isn't your bag under Pannels/Layouts.

K lets make somethn wh00t!
In the perspective View:
Hold spacebar to open the hotbox and goto Create/polygon Primiatives/cube. By this time u might be like "what the hell are these boxes next items??" The boxes next to functions are options for them. If i click on cube the default cube is made, but if i click the box next to cube options come up so i can make a specific parameter cube. K so assuming u made a cube by now your probably like "what is this wireframe shit!?" So you press 5 to enable shadding in the window. Later you may want to go back to wireframe mode in which press 4 to do so. This can also be done by picking the shading you want under your window's shading menu (next to view and lighting).

Now basic mouse/view movement:
While holding alt and the first mouse button you rotate. While holding alt and the middle mouse button you PAN (left,right,up,down). And while holding alt and first mouse button AND middle mouse button you zoom in and out. Play with that real quick and assuming you'll get your camera in a nice wacked out position you can reset it by selecting an object, in this case your cube, and hit F this will put the camera on this item and zoom in = /<-rad.

Lets play with the actual item!! muki ki!
select the cube and press W This puts you in move mode. Now you can use the happy lil arrows to move based on an axis or click the middle (thin yellow box) to move around freely based on your window. Now hit E, this lets you rotate. The colored lines again are axis based and the yellow line is free rotate. Now click R this is scale. The usual, the sticking out colored boxes are axis based scaling and the yellow box in the middle is proportional scale. To resize the size of these tool displays press + or - .

These basic tools are also selectable at the upper left icons going down the left side starting with the basic arrow selection tool. After playign around with those tools you'll probably saying something on the lines of DAMN'T HOW am i supposed to do a freakn exact 90 degree rotate!!

To do this my friend you rawk the channel box to the right. Select the cube again and see its paramaters show up such in the channels box such as Translate, Rotate, Scale etc. Now you can precicely change movement here. Make scale X 2 and Rotate Y 90 and it otta give you a good idea of its function.

Now lets get into moving parts of our objects!
select the cube and right click on it and you can see you can pick edge, vertex, face, (the others you'll learn later)
Edge picks, well edges.. which are 2 connecting vertexes, vertex selects the single points that make the cube and face selects a whole face/side. Lets play around, go into vertex mode by selecting the object, press and hold the right mouse button drag to vertex and let go. Now you'll see the vertexes turned to purple dots so you can see them easier. Try selecting one and move it. Now select another one by holding shift and clicking on it or drag selecting. If you got more than you wanted you hold CTRL and select already selected items to deselect. This works the same for edges and faces. Now play with rotate and scale while you have 2 or more vertexes. When you want go back to just selecting the item and not a face or edge or whatever hit F8, note..you'll do this A LOT. After the 5min of playing your probably pissed you have to click on those dumb center dots when picking faces in face mode so lets turn that off. In hotbox goto Window/SettingsPreferences/Preferences
Then goto Selection under Settings and on Polygon Selection click whole face. Click save at the bottom of that window.

Assuming you have a nice deformed ass cube by now lets get into some basic tools.
Goto face mode on your cube and select a face then goto your hotbox (holding spacebar) goto EditPolygons/subdivide. You'll see by default it quad divides. Now goto edge mode and select an edge or 2 on the subdivide you just made. Goto hotbox and goto EditPolygons/Delete edge. As you can see it kicked that edge's ass, but due to edges goin' bye bye the geomerty can change. Now subdivide another face and goto face mode and move stuff around. Now that we have more faces we can make a hot abstract blob wh00t! Goto Vertex mode and pick a random vertex and goto the hotbox Editpolygons/Delete Vertex. Now that some more geometry is on the screen you can check out other view options. Assuming your still in the perspective view goto Shading on the window and check out shading options xray and wireframe on shadded. These view options can come in handy. Select them again to turn them off.

Some other "helpers" are snap tools. Pick a vertex and goto Top view window. (assuming your perspective is maximized hit spacebar then hit spacebar ontop of the top view window) In the upper middle there are the snap to grid and snap to point snap icons. Snap to grid will snap the vertex or whatever you have selected to a point on the grid and snap to point will snap to another vertex on your cube. Play around with moving a vertex in each snap mode, its a little odd at first but it comes in handy if you want to make something proportional real quick. make sure and turn it off when your done using it.

With the high chance your cube looks pretty crazy by now lets delete it by selecting and hit the delete button. (make sure and be in the root of the item where it has a green selection by hitting f8). Create another cube but hey we keep doin this so lets make an icon in our neeto shelf.

In the far upper left make the little white box say modeling this sets our tools at the very top. Now to add to the shelf you hold CTRL, ALT, SHIFT and then do the action. In this case we want a cube icon so hold CTRL, ALT, SHIFT and goto the very top, not the hotbox and goto create/polygon primatives/cube. After you select it the icon will be made. It will probably be a good idea to make an icon for almost everyfunction I'm goin to go over.

If you mess up and add something you didn't want or 2 of the same click the black arrow on the far left of the shelf and goto the shelf editor. You can delete and change order. Shelf is yo FRIEND!

The mighty extrudefunction!:
A good style for beginers is the box modeling style which mostly deals with selecting faces and extruding. So pick a face on your new cube with perspective view maximized and goto hotbox EditPolygons/ExtrudeFace. Its highly reccomended u make this icon in your shelf. Now after you do it you'll see the extrude tool the blue arrow extrudes based on the normal of the face (where the face is facing) and the others are axis based. The blocks are for scaling. Lets keep it simple so move the blue arrow. As you can see it extruded the face so now we have double the cube we used to have.

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Lets go further into the tool, pick another face and extrude again, now the light blue dot with a line to your face determines if the extrude is based on the face normal or not. So had you rotated or had a weird angle extrude you click this lil thing to go into world movement. Thus when u extrude up it goes up and not up acording to the face normal.(check out my example extruding a sloped face) you can also click the circle to rotate while in extrude tool, which can affect things while multiple faces are being extruded.

Which we otta try now. By default the extrude tool keeps faces apart which SUXXX so lets turn that off. In the hotbox goto Polygons/ToolOptions and check on keep faces together. So select 2 faces that touch eachother and extrude them play with the move, scale, and rotate functions of the extrude tool. You can also jump to the normal move,rotate,scale tool after you extrude by hitting W, E, or R. Now select 2 faces not touching, such as ones on opposite sides and extrude and play with it to see how things react.

Now that we know extrude we can get into division basics. Starting with a new cube one way to divide offhand is to select it and goto the channel box, under this you'll see INPUTS polycube1 click on it and you'll see basic parameters such as width but in this case we're looking at subdivision width, height and depth. play with that real quick then set them all back to 1. Lets say we want to make the cube look like 3 cubes together select 2 opposite faces of the cube and extrude. While in extrude mode move the blue arrow and you'll see under the channels box local translate Z moves, since the cube is 1x1x1 we can set this to 1 so it extrudes by 1 thus making it look like there are 3 cubes together. Now select all of one side (3 connecting faces) and extrude that. As you can see your making neeto divisions. To get slants one can extrude then delete an edge, see the example.

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Example starts with our 3cube looking thing, then an upward extrude, then selecting 3 edges of a side and deleting them to get a slant (EditPolygons/Delete edge) Pic shows the edges I selected. While we're deleting stuff also try selecting a vertex and doing (EditPolygons/Delete Vertex) as u can see sometimes it doesn't exactly do what you want since losing a vertex can change geometry, but it comes in handy.

Lets get into more complex divisions. Offhand you may have found the split polygon tool (EditPolygons/Split Polygon Tool) basically you pick face or faces you want to divide goto the tool then make divisions by clicking on edges and hit enter when done. I hate this damn thing since your eyen' everything and its not exact. It is good for making quick divisions on organics to where things don't need to be so exact. I prefer to use subdivide for making mid divisions.
[[face-d1.jpg]] Lets say i want to divide in the center of my 3 cube thing real quick extrude would be painful so I pick 2 center faces and subdivide (EditPolygons/Subdivide) now it added some horizontal lines i didn't want so i pick them (total of 4) and do the delete edge function. Subdivide can also be used well on edges with the triangulate function. Lets go back to the final result of our last example and lets say we want to divide the top also.

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Lets say i want to divide in the center of my 3 cube thing real quick extrude would be painful so I pick 2 center faces and subdivide (EditPolygons/Subdivide) now it added some horizontal lines i didn't want so i pick them (total of 4) and do the delete edge function. Subdivide can also be used well on edges with the triangulate function. Lets go back to the final result of our last example and lets say we want to divide the top also.

If one selects the top face and subdivides it results in a pretty wacky division, most likely not what you wanted. So instead select the back edge and subdivide it to make it create a vertex at its midpoint.

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Now select the face we want to divide and goto hotbox (Polygons/Triangulate). If your a max user you may be wonder where the hell have these damn triangles been hidn'. Basically maya defaults to showing you faces because they are easier to select. If you need to triangulate something just select the face and do the (Polygons/Triangulate) function. If your a LEME SEE THE DAMN TRIANGLES kinda guy you can goto (Display/Custom Polygon Display) and be sure and pick the box next to it for options. Pick object affected all, and under face check triangles then click apply.

While triangulating u may also find yourself going triangulate the other way damn't! (referring to which way the edge divided the polygon) You can change this by clicking on the trouble making edge and doing (EditPolygons/Flip Triangle Edge)

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I guess while we're here we can go over backface culling. Default backface culling is off so you see both sides of all faces. When backface culling is on you only see the face if the normal faces the camera. A little hard to understand so check out the example. This is mostly good for drag selection. IF you want to only be able to select what you see turn backface culling on.

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Time to get into ballz out manual face makn stylez! Make a cube and extrude a side, then delete 4 connecting faces as shown on the example. Now open the append to polygon tool (Polygons/Append to Polygon tool) This tool is used to make faces by clicking on open edges. Although this is an assbackwards way to make a slope (delete edge would be better) this will show basics of the append to poly tool.

First we want to make some side triangles so click on the left edge then the lower edge and hit enter. Do the same for the other side. The arrows on the edges show how the normal will result so you want to go counterclockwise like i just told you. now that we have 2 triangles we want to fill the hole so start somewhere on an open edge and go counterclockwise till its full and press enter. Another way to do this after we made the triangle sides is to select all the open edges then goto (EditPolygons/Fill Hole). While using the append tool its easy to screw up so if it happense just hit enter then CTRL-Z to undo and try again.

Although I don't use it as much you may come across where you need to use extrude edge. Start with a cube and delete the top face.

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Now select 2 side edges and extrude the edges upward (EditPolygons/Extrude Edge). I assume due to the normals if u extrude with default blue arrow it goes all cracked out so click the lil light blue dot to go to world extrude and move it up as shown. Now extrude those edges up again and then scale them in a little using world extrude scale or normal scale tool. Now using append to poly tool again we can cheat a lil and click upper diagonal edge then the opposite and it will made the face, hit enter. fill in the middle square hole and then the top and do the next side. And yes 2 extrudes would have been hella much easier but now u know edge extrude skillz!

Multiple Object time, UH OH! Start a new scene so your space is nice and blank and create a cube. Now press CTRL-D and it will duplicate that cube. (move it since it will duplicate exactly on top) You'll notice your duplicate doesn't have the input functions your original did, so if you want this control goto your original cube: (Edit/Duplicate) click on the option box of duplicate. Check on Duplicate input connections and apply. This will stay on till you change it. Kay now delete all that crap again and make a cube and now goto 4 window mode.

Goto the Front window and move the cube to a side of the main 0,0 thick black lines. Delete the face facing the 0,0 side then Group this cube by pressing CTRL-G and press up Arrow (on keyboard) to make sure your at the group. By default when u click something u pick the item, so remember to pick the group press the up arrow.

Now goto duplicate option box again; turn off duplicate input connections then put scale at -1 for X (so scale is -1,1,1) and geometry type pick Instance and click apply. When you group things the center pivot defaults to 0,0 so now that the cube was duplicated with negative X scale it makes a mirror. Also since we have made an instance when we change any of the sides they both do the same thing. So if you move vertexes or extrude or whatever it will be the same on both sides, Half the work baybe!. If your working on other things in your scene be sure and reset your duplicate options. You don't always want to do negative scale dupes with instances.

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So lets say you got a neat shape and u want this instance stuff to stop so you can make it non symetrical. this is a ghetto way, but works, duplicate one group side normally and move it forward (keeping the middle on the 0,0 line) now duplicate the group with -1 x scale (copy not instance). Note on those 2 duplicates if you duplicate the item instead of the group the items are in the axis will be off so it will be all messed up. We are using the groups again to put the axis in the center of world space.

Now select the 2 new pieces and combine them with (Polygons/Combine). This makes it treat these items as 1 piece. Now so its not all fake janky 1 piece but really 2 styles we'll select the middle vertexes and use merge (EditPolygons/Merge vertices). We're trying to weld the middle together so if the default tolerance of merge vertices doesn't work goto its option box. It determines how close the vertices need to be before they will merge. Now its a true happy 1 piece. Keep in mind the power of merge vertices command, also comes in great use when delete edge or vertex don't do what you want.

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As a recap of new and old make 2 cubes with some distance between them on an axis then delete the their faces that face eachother. Now select both cubes and combine them (Polygons/Combine) Now you can use the append poly tool to create faces where the gap is. Make a side, hit enter repeat. Be sure and go the proper way and click on all the sides when making a face.

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If u miss an edge it is possible to make a face that is not connected. Prevent this by moving faces after your done to test it then undo. If you find out much later in your project you did this you can fix it easily by selecting your whole model and using merge vertices tool. Just make sure the tolorence doesn't mess up your geometry.

Booleans are another classic function. Which despite their old age continue to not work 50% of the time on ANY program. Basicaly its the classic Union, Subtraction, and Intersection. To do this select 2 objects and position them how you want them to interact and goto (Polygons/Booleans) and choose which you want. Union welds them together making 1 solid piece, subtraction takes the first piece you selected and subtracts the second piece, and intersect results in geometry of only where the 2 pieces went inside eachother. When it actually works it can be helpful.

Other shapes: of course we don't want to forget about cylinders and spheres.
Both can be found under (Create/Polygon Primatives) typically the sphere default is very divided so select it after making and goto its inputs in the channels box and change the divisions as needed.
The same can be applied to cylinders but also keep in mind they make good bases for N-gon shapes. Make a cyclinder and then under inputs N-gon = subdivisions Axis, Thus a pentagon = 5 Subdivisions Axis. Scale as needed. I also reccomend making subdivisions Caps 0 so the caps are easier to select.

Other basics:
After a lot of work on a model its history can really grow and slow you down. So when you like your items so far select them all then goto (Edit/Delete By Type/History)

Normals, the edge type (yes the same word is used for face direction, bastards!) can also get pretty weird while heavily editing an object. Edge normals are how soft or hard they appear. In reality normals can only be hard or soft. Anything above 0 is soft and the more it is above 0 the more chance the angle will look smoothed.

I like to work in hard mode so i can see the faces easily so i set mine at about 20 you can do this at (EditPolygons/Normals/Soften-Harden) be sure and choose the option box. The higher it is the "softer" the edges look which can be good if u want to make a sphere or curve look smoother. 60ish is good for semisoft. Now the reason these are also called normals is because this soft vs hard look is determined by the direction of vertex normals.. So the angle is just the tolerance it gives faces sharing the selected edge. 40 means it will go soft if the angle between the 2 faces saharing the edge is less then 40 degrees.. if not it will go hard. Thus a higher normal looks softer since when viewed it has more chances to be soft. Edges appear hard or soft depending on how the face normals vary across the edge. If it's a soft edge it averages the face normals so that when shaded they appear to be facing the same direction. If it's a hard edge it sets the normals perpendicular to the face.

If you just got totally confused basically to control how soft/hard edges look, goto (EditPolygons/Normals/Soften-Harden) You can pick the whole object or edges specifically. Tthe lower the # the harder it will look, the higher, the softer.

If you want to manually move your axis select the object then press the insert button on your keyboard. Move it where u want then press insert again.

To get some decent render settings (default BLOWS!) goto hotbox (Window/Rendering Editors/Render Globals) Set resolution to 640x480 or higher and on anti aliasing quality pick the 3d motion blur preset.
Of course to see anything your gonna need some lights so add an ambient light or point light for some quick light. They can be further edited by selecting and changing things in channels or by selecting then pressing CTRL-A. Here u can change color and shadow stuff.

Render Global icon is also at the top (upper rightish) close to render current frame. To use render current frame click on the view you want to render then press the render current frame icon.



Great tutorial.

Has anyone tried the free version of Maya yet?
Kakoli Chattopadhyay
Re: Tut
Great. I need a free version of Maya.
Re: Tut
Yes I posted about maya 6.0 PLE today but not in a reply to you, you can read it at the forum, its at alias site if ya look around a sec youll find the freeware, watermarked and cant use maya files , PLE only, but i think everything else works.
I havne't tried the free Maya yet, but maybe someday. I think it's a smart thing for them to do since they know if people ever want to go pro with it they'll have to purchase the program.. but as long as they stay amateur they don't have to pay. Should get more people interested and learning it. I think all expensive softwares should do that. :) Anyway, there's an awful lot of work put into this tutorial for no one to comment on it. (I should know.) Good work. :)
nice tut
excellent tut MonkeyBoy, tho i just wish it was on 3DSMAX...
Re: nice tut
Yeah love the site and like gecko said its always good when people show their apreciation for all the hard work u put in ;)
I just wanna thank you for that cool tutorial.
Sweet :-)
Cool tutorial. I like the language, thought occasionally its hard to read...

You helped me out in the basic part of Maya 4.5 :-)

Thanks a bunch,
moving handles
Good tutorial. I'm just starting off in maya 4.5
But this is driving me nuts, there's probably an easy answe but...
when I import an object, (.dxf or whatever) if I try to do a rotate the entire object is rotated in a huge arch -rather than just spun around like primatives are, how on earth to do move the handles?
Re: moving handles
Pretty sure you just want to change your pivot. To center do Modify / Center Pivot function. Also when in move mode you can hit the INSERT key to move the pivot manually. Hit insert again when done to go back to normal move mode.
alan maya neophyte
Cheers for this tutorial it has really helped me with my polys, I hoping to find more easy to follow tutorials on your site as I Have just come back for more, Cheers Monkeyboy whoever you are, top draw tutorial.
fat Pacifist
Hah! This tut's krad! 3d stuff here I come! Thanks!@#$

fat Pacifist
Hah! This tut's krad! 3d stuff here I come! Thanks!@#$

Maya 6.0 PLE
Yes ive tried maya 6.0 the freeware PLE as its called, seems to work perfectly EXCEPT the following major let downs, you can not use PLE files in MAYA, or vise versa, possibly only PLE cant use maya files, but maya may be able to use PLE files, anyhow, and the big bummer, there is a hige annoying water mark in any of the shaded or rendered views that goes or seeps through everything, its on the model back round and floor, everywhere and its never blocked out by a 3d object. PLE is great to learn some things on, but final products are washed out with watermarks. I really wish they coulda just put a smaller water mark always in view instead of having it cover the whole viewning area, haha , then again nice of them to even make a freeware also...
Sarcophagus the Super Newbie...
Good tuto, good Maya PLE
just got Maya PLE 6 and is flawless. It is easy to get annoy'd by those damn watermarks (they are even OVER your work when rendering) but hey! it is FREE! is so fuck'n powerful, almost the pro version and so educational an' keeps being free! when did adobe d'that? or macromedia or any other of the big-esentials? I always prefer Alias software over the rest because it is obvious that they care for the designers, the customers, we pay or not.

Whatever, I was lookin' for tutos to start messing the world with my 'til warm mayaPLE but just couldn't find anything for my really newbie level. Finally I found this wonderful tuto, a kick in the ass for all the other tutos I found. Thankyou very muchas ChangoBoy! you saved my day and got a new artist in the room.

Now that I got the basics I've been makin' good & decent stuff and all started here =)