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Autodesk Maya Tutorial

G E TTI NG S TA RT ED
Autodesk Maya is a 3D modeling and animation program that can be used for 3D printing, and
animated graphics. Whether you plan to model or modify objects Maya offers all the tools needed
to produce professional and quality results for even a beginner. This tutorial will take you through
some of the basic uses of Autodesk Maya.

In this tutorial, you will learn the following:

1. Getting Started Pg. 3

2. Creating a Maya Project Pg. 4

3. Navigating 3D Space Pg. 9

4. Polygon Primitives Pg. 10

5. Manipulating Objects Pg. 12

6. Extrude/Bevel Pg. 16

7. Adding Shaders Pg. 19

8. Import/Export Pg. 22

9. Rendering Images Pg. 24


1 . G ETT I NG S T A RT ED
1. Begin by opening Autodesk Maya.
On a PC, click Start > Programs > Autodesk> Maya, or click on the Maya short
cut on the desktop. (Figure 1)

On a Mac, click Macintosh HD > Applications > Autodesk Maya , or click the
Maya icon in the Dock.

Figure 1. Navigation to Autodesk Maya on a PC.

Understanding the Maya startup screen and where to find menu tools will be critial in creating a model.
See Figure 2 for a view of the Maya screen.

Figure 2. Maya Startup Screen


1. G ETTI NG S TA RT ED C O NT.
Maya Menu Bar : At the top of the screen space is where you can find options to create and
save projects, as well as import and export objects (indicated by the red box in Figure 2.)

Maya Shelf : This is where you can find options to create basic polygon primitives and shortcuts
for modeling tools such as extrude and bevels (indicated by the orange box in Figure 2.)

Select and Move tools : On the left side if the screen you will find the tool short cuts for
selection, transform, rotate, and scale (indicated by the purple box in Figure 2.)

Channel Box, Modeling Toolkit, Attribute Editor : On the right side of the screen you will find
shortcuts to the Channel Box, Modeling Toolkit, and Attribute Editor, in these sections you can
manually manipulate your geometry (indicated by the green box in Figure 2.)

Animation Timeline : On the bottom of the screen is the animation timeline, this is where you
can set keyframes to create animations, by default Maya creates spline curve keyframes
in 24 fps (indicated by the yellow box in Figure 2.)

2. CREATING A M A Y A P RO J EC T
Before you can save a scene in Maya you must first set up a Project. Setting up a Project in Maya will
create a file structure for you to easily keep your files in designated folders.

1. Go to File > Project Window (Figure 3)

Figure 3. Project Window


2. CREATING A M A Y A P RO J EC T C O NT .
2. In the new Project Window that has opened click on the New icon to the far right of the Current
Project tab. (Figure 4)

Figure 4. New Current Project

3. In the Project Window you can now type in the name you would like to call your folder in the tab
next to Current Project. (Figure 4)

4. In the Project Window click on the Folder icon to the far right of the Location tab. (Figure 5)

Figure 5. Location

5. A new dialogue box will appear where you can select where you would like to create your new
project. Navigate to your personal drive in the browser and then click Select on the bottom right.
(Figure 6)

Figure 6. Location
2. CRE ATING A M A Y A P RO J EC T C O NT .
6. Back in the Project Window click on Accept to the bottom left. (Figure 7)

Figure 7. Location

7. Our project is now created with all folders associated with our Maya project but we now have to set
the file to the folder. Go to File>Set Project. (Figure 8)

Figure 8. File > Set Project


2. CRE ATING A M A Y A P RO J EC T C O NT .
8. A new Set Project window will open. Navigate to the folder we just created in step 6. With the
folder selected (highlighted blue) click on Set on the bottom right. (Figure 9)

Figure 9. Set Project

9. Our project is now created and set so now we need to save our scene.
Go to File > Save Scene As. (Figure 10)

Figure 10. Save Scene As


2. CRE ATING A M A Y A P RO J EC T C O NT .
10. A new Save As window will open. In the File Name tab write the name you would like to label your
scene. Click Save As to the bottom right of the window. (Figure 11)

Figure 11. Save As

We have now created a project with appropriate file structure and then set our project to the correct
location and lastly saved our scene. Every time you open your scene make sure that your project is
set to the correct location before you save your scene. Otherwise your files may not be saving to the
proper location.
3 . Nav iga t in g 3 D S p a c e
Maya is a software where you view your workspace in three dimensions, meaning that you are using a
X, Y, and Z axis. Most softwares use a two dimensional software, so there is a learning curve to
understand how to use the Z axis. In order to navigate our workspace we have to understand how to
use the virtual camera in the Maya workspace. To use the camera effectively we can Rotate, Pan and
Zoom. In order to use these commands you will need to have a keyboard and a three button mouse
(the third button is the scroll wheel on a mouse), using a laptop without a mouse will not work.

Rotate - Rotates a part or assembly in the graphics window. You can rotate when other
attributes are selected.

To rotate on a Mac - Hold Option and Left Click


To rotate on a PC - Hold ALT and Left Click

Pan - Panning shifts the location of the view without changing the magnification, as though
you were moving the image from side to side in front of a camera lens. You can pan
when other attributes are selected.

To pan on a Mac - Hold Option and Middle Click


To pan on a PC - Hold ALT and Middle Click

Zoom - Zoom the view in the graphics window in or out to achieve the desired scale. You can
zoom when other attributes are selected.

To zoom on a Mac - Hold Option and Right Click


To zoom on a PC - Hold ALT and Right Click
4 . PO LYG O N P RI M I TI VES
Maya is a program that we can use to model geometry into various different shapes that than can be
rendered for print or can be 3D printed. The easiest way to start to create complicated models is to
start with basic 3D shapes. Maya has multiple pre-made shapes that we can use as a starting base,
these are known as Polygon Primitives. These Polygon Primitives include Cube, Shere, Pyramid, Torus,
Pipe, Plane and Cylinder

1. To create a Polygon Primitive go to Create > Polygon Primitive > Choose desired primitive
(Figure 12)

Figure 12. Creating Polygon Primitivesv


4 . PO LYG O N P RI M I T I VES C O NT .
2. On the right hand of the screen in the Channel Box we can manually change some
attributues to our polygon primitive. In the top section we can change the Transform
(position), Rotation and Scale. (Figure 13)

Figure 13. Transform, Rotation, and Scale attributes

3. Under the Input section we can create more subdivisions. Increasing the number of
subdivisions will increase the number of vertices. This will give us more control over how we
want to manipulate our geometry. (Figure 13, and 14)

4. Notice how many more vertices we have when we increase the number of subdivisions.
(Figure 14)
4 . PO LYG O N P RI M I T I VES C O NT .

Figure 14. Increasing the number of subdivisions

Understanding the basis of creating polygon primitives and increating subdivisions to the desired
amount will be critical when it comes to creating custom geometry.

5 . MANI PU LA TI NG O B J EC T S
Up until this point we have focused on understanding the idea of creating basic polygon primitives
and adding subdivisions. Next we will learn the tools that will allow us to move, rotate and scale our
object.

1. To select these tools go to the far left of the screen where you will see the tools. (Figure 15)

Select Tool - Allows you to select a piece of geometry.

Move Tool - Allows yout to move the objects position in the X, Y or Z Plane.
Alternatively you can press w on the keyboard for the shortcut.

Rotate Tool - Allows you to Rotate your object. Alternatively you can press e on the
keyboard for the shortcut

Scale Tool - Allows you to scale your object up or down. Alternatively you can press r on
the keyboard for the shortcut.
5 . MANI PULA T I NG O B J EC T S C O NT .

Figure 15. Select, Move, Rotate, Scale Tool

2. To use the move tool you will see 3 lines emerging from your object with an arrow attached.
Each line coordinates with an axis. By clicking and holding on the line you can move your
object in that axis. (Figure 16)

Figure 16. Move Tool Handles


5 . MANI PUL A TI NG O B J EC T S C O NT .
3. To use the rotate tool you will see a series of spherical lines on your object. There are 3 lines
that are red, blue and green, each line corresponds to a different axis. By clicking on
one of these lines and dragging your mouse you will rotate your object along that axis.
(Figure 17)

Figure 17. Rotate Tool Handles

4. To use the scale tool you will see three lines with a cube at the end of each line. Each line
corresponds to an axis. By clicking on one of the cubes and then dragging your mouse,
you will scale your object in that axis. By clciking on the center cube you will scale your
whole object as one. (Figure 18)

Figure 18. Scale Tool Handles


5. M ANI PULA TI NG O B J EC T S C O NT .
Using the Move, Rotate and Scale tools can be used to manipulate the whole piece of geomotery
porportionally but we can select parts of our geometry for more control. We need to understand
some terminology that will help us get more control out of our models. We can manipulate the
whole Object, Vertices, Faces, and Edges.

Object - The object selection will select the whole obect

Vertex - The vertices selection well select one small point on an object

Face - The faces selection will allow you to select a face that is enclosed by at least 3 edges

Edge - The edge selection will allow you to select a line that is connecting 2 vertices.

1. To access these different selection tools, hover your mouse over the selected geometry and
then right click and an option box will appear. Left click on the desired tool from Object
Mode, Vertex, Face, and Edge. (Figure 19)

Figure 19. Object Mode, Vertex, Face , Edge Option Box


5 . MANI PULA TI NG O B J EC T S C O NT .
Look to the following images below to see how Vertices, Faces, and Edges can be manipulated and
adjusted to create custom spaces. (Figure 20-22)

Figure20. Example of Move tool on a Face Figure21. Example of Scale tool on Vertices

Figure22. Example of Move tool on an Edge

6 . EXTRUDE A ND B EVEL T O O L S
We can further manipulate our Geometry by applying the Extrude tool to polygon Faces and by ap-
plying the Bevel tool to Edges.

Extrude - Adds polygons to a mesh by adding depth. An extrude can be inwards or outwards.

Bevel - Adds polygones around the edges of a mesh, rounding out the edges.
6. E XTRUDE A ND B EVEL T O O L S C O NT .
To Extrude a face...

1. Right click on your model select the Face Selection Tool. (Figure 19)

2. Left Click on a Face you would like to extrude on your Model.

3. With your Face selected click on the Extrude Command icon in the Polygon Shelf or you can
find this command in the Modeling ToolKit on the far right of the screen. (Figure 23)

Figure23. Extrude Icon

4. The Extrude tool is now live on our polygon face you can click on the Scale, Move and
Rotate handles to adjust our new polygone face. In this example notice how new geometry is
created as the face is extruded outward. (Figure 24)

Figure24. Extrude Tool


6. EX TRUDE AND B EVEL T O O L S C O NT .
5. Notice how an Extrude Options Box appears next to our geometry that will let us control the
Depth, Thickness, and Divisions. (Figure 24)

To create Beveled edges...

1. Right Click on your geometry and select Edge from the Selection Options. (Figure 19)

2. Select the Edges you would like to Bevel.

3. With your Edges selected click on the Bevel Command icon in the Polygon Shelf or you can
find this command in the Modeling ToolKit on the far right of the screen. (Figure 25)

Figure25. Bevel Tool Icon

4. The Bevel has now been created. Notice by default it only has created 1 new level of
segments. An Option Box will appear next to your geometry where you can manually plug in
attributes that will effect the level of segments and depth to the bevel. (Figure 26)
6. EX TRUDE AND B EVEL T O O L S C O NT .

Figure26. Bevel Tool Options

7 . ADDI NG S HA DERS
To add colors or materials to your created object you must apply a shader. There are many types of
shaders that you can use in Maya. The two most common types are Lamberts and Blinns. Lamberts
are the default Maya shader and they do not have any specularity or reflection. Blinns however do
have both reflections and specularity.

To adjust the default lambert on your object:


1. Go to the Attribute Editor on the right side of the screen and look click on the Lambert1 Tab.
(Figure 27)

Figure27. Lambert Settings in the Attribute Editor


7 . ADDIN G S HA DERS C O NT .
2. In the Common Material Attributes section of the Lambert1 Settings you can click on the
gray box next to Color to select a new color. (Figure 27)

3. To make the object semi-transparent you can slide the Transparency slider to the right.
(Figure 27)

4. You can also apply a glow by going under the Special Effects tab and sliding the Glow
Intensity slider to the right. (Figure 27)

To add a Blinn Shader:

1. With your object selected right click on your object.

2. An options box will open. Scroll down to Assign Favorite Material then select Blinn.
(Figure 28)

Figure28. Assign Favorite Material


7 . ADDIN G S HA DERS C O NT .
3. In the Attribute Editor scroll over to find Blinn1. (Figure 29)

Figure29. Blinn Settings

4. Under Common Material Attributes you can change the color and the transparency.
(Figure 29)

5. Under the Specular Shading tab you can adjust the settings for your specularity and your
reflections (Figure 29)

Shaders can be applied to entire objects or to selected faces. It is important to note that some shader
settings will not appear in the project window. Some effects such as glow, specularity and reflections
will only appear after rendering. This is because these effects take a too much processing power to
handle live and therefore must be rendered first. It is also important to note that changing color of an
object with a shader will not affect the color of the object if it is 3D printed.
8 . IMP O RT/ EXP O RT
Maya allows you to both import premade objects as well as export your models so they can be
opened in other software packages. Maya can import models and premade rigs designed for
animation. OBJ and STL files can be imported and then further manipulated. Maya can also export
OBJ files that you can then convert into STL files to be used for 3D printing.

To import a file into Maya:

1. Go to File > Import. (Figure 30)

Figure 30. File Import

2. An Import Dialogue Box will open, navigate to the file you would like to import and click
Import on the bottom right of the screen.

3. Your object will now be imported into the workspace and ready to be manipulated.

To Export a Maya Object.

1. Have the Object you would like to export selected in your workspace.

2. Go to File > Export Selection. ( Figure 31)


8 . I M PO RT/ EXP O RT C O NT .

Figure 31. File Export Selection

3. In the Export Selection Dialogue Box, choose the destination that you would like to save
your object to. (Figure 32)

Figure 32. Export Selection Dialogue Box


8 . I M PO RT/ EXP O RT C O NT .
4. Under File Name, give your exported object a name. (Figure 33)

Figure 33. File Name, Files of Type

5. Under Files of Type choose OBJexport. (Figure 33)

6. Click Export Selection. (Figure 33)

Now that your model is exported as an OBJ it can be used with any other 3D program. An OBJ is the
most universially supported 3D file type. However if you wish to 3D print your model in the Collab
Lab you will need it to be in a .STL file. You can take your OBJ object into other software like Autodesk
MeshMixer or Blender and then convert the OBJ to an STL. Or there are many free online OBJ to STL
converters.

9 . RE NDERI NG I M A G ES
If you wish to take the 3D model that you created and get a high quality image, rendering will be the
final step. The view that we get in the Maya work space is a low quality visualization, rendering this
view will give us a more realistic high quality images with reflections and shadows.

To render your scene:

1. Postion your object in your work space in the exact angle that you would like to render.

2. Click on the Render Settings Icon in the Maya Shelf. It looks like a clapboard with blue gears
on it. (Figure 34)
9 . RENDERI NG I M A G ES C O NT .

Figure 34. Render Settings Icon

3. The Render Settings Dialouge Box will open. Make sure that Render Using is set to Maya
Software. (Figure 35) (Other rendering engines can be selected and can produce higher
quality images but require more in depth set up such as the inclusion of lights and will take
longer to render. Because of this we recommend you start with the Maya Software Rendering
Engine)

Figure 35. Render Using Maya Software


9 . RE NDERI NG I M A G ES C O NT.
4. The Render Settings Dialouge Box will open. Scroll down to Image Size. (Figure 36)

Figure 36. Image Size

5. Here you can choose a preset render size from the Preset Dropdown Box or you can
manually enter your Width, Height and Resolution. (Figure 36)

6. Scroll back to the top of the Render Settings Dialogue Box and click on the Maya Software
Tab. (Figure 37)

Figure 37. Maya Software Tab

7. Under the Anti-Aliasing Quality Tab, click on the Quality Dropdown Box and select
Production Quality. (Figure 38)
9 . RE NDERI NG I M A G ES C O NT .

Figure 38. Production Quality

8. Scroll down to the Raytracing Quality Tab and make sure that Raytracing is checkmarked.
(Figure 39)

Figure 39. Raytracing Quality

9. Close out of the Render Settings Digalogue Box.

10. Back in the Maya Workspace click on the Render Frame Icon in the Maya Shelf, it looks like a
clapboard. (Figure 40)

Figure 40. Render Frame Icon

11. A new Render Frame window will open. It may take a few seconds for your scene to
render.
9 . RE NDERI NG I M A G ES C O NT.
12. In the Render Frame Window go to File > Save Image. (Figure 41)

Figure 41. File Save Image

13. Select the destination you would like to save your image to and give your file a name.

14. Select what file type you would like to save the image as, JPEG is the most common image
format.

You have now saved out a high quality rendered image that can be used for printing. Once your
render settings are already set you don’t have to go back in and adjust them everytime you want to
render a frame.