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A Tour of Maya

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This sample chapter introduces you to Maya's structure and design. You'll learn all the interface elements and start to get a feel for getting around in the panels. You'll also look at playing back animation and the Shaded and Wireframe modes of viewing objects.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

In This Chapter

It's time to start Maya and learn how to use it. Before we start to discuss how to make anything, though, this chapter introduces you to Maya's structure and design. You'll learn all the interface elements and start to get a feel for getting around in the panels. You'll also look at playing back animation and the Shaded and Wireframe modes of viewing objects. These are the primary parts of any 3D program, and after you gain some comfort with these true fundamentals of Maya, you'll be poised to move on to specifics:

  • The Maya interface Take a tour of each feature as we describe it and name the parts.

  • Manipulating views Learn how to tumble, track, and dolly your 3D view.

  • Detail and shading See how any 3D panel can be displayed in several different modes.

  • Changing your interface Learn how to quickly change the Maya interface to suit the task at hand by resizing and reassigning the panels and minimizing or maximizing any single panel.

Key Terms

Attribute Editor The primary interface for changing objects and such in Maya, available as a floating window or docked at the interface's right side.

Channel Box Used to view and edit the variables of your currently selected item, usually accessed at the interface's right side.

Hotbox A workflow speedup that many Maya animators love—an overlaid menu triggered by holding down the spacebar.

tumble The official term for spinning or rotating around in a view.

track The official term for panning or moving linearly across a view.

dolly The official term for zooming into and out of a view (technically, the term for moving the camera into or out of a scene).

zoom Used for actions in which you draw a window to magnify or reduce.

LMB The left mouse button, the primary action-taking button.

MMB The middle mouse button, often a secondary or alternative action-taking button.

RMB The right mouse button; usually provides options to select with the LMB (as with most Windows applications).

Wireframe mode Viewing a 3D scene as lines that make it look as though the objects are made from a wire screen mesh. Until the fairly recent advent of higher powered 3D graphics cards, the only interactive way to work with 3D scenes.

Shaded mode Lets you view geometry in a crudely rendered interactive way (not to be confused with the high-quality renderer). Any 3D view panel in Maya can be in Wireframe or Shaded mode.

Gouraud shading A crude form of smooth shading that adds highlights to polygonal objects by averaging the polygon corners. It renders quickly and is the method used for interactive shaded mode in Maya panels.

HotKeys to Memorize

Alt+LMB orbit

Alt+MMB pan

Alt+LMB+MMB zoom

Ctrl+Alt+drag window with LMB zoom window

Ctrl+A activate the Attribute Editor

f use the Frame Selected Object option (zoom in or out to the boundaries of the current object)

a use the Frame All Objects option (zoom in or out to the boundaries of the scene)

spacebar tap toggle full-screen mode of selected panel

spacebar hold open Hotbox

1 NURBS at low detail

2 NURBS at medium detail

3 NURBS at high detail

4 Wireframe mode for selected 3D view panel

5 Shaded mode for selected 3D view panel

6 Shaded and Hardware Textured mode for selected view panel

7 use scene lights

q Select mode - pointer

w Move mode

e Rotate mode

r Scale mode

t Manipulator mode

F1 Help

F2 Animation mode

F3 Modeling mode

F4 Dynamics mode

F5 Rendering mode

Ctrl+z undo

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