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Duplication Options

Maya provides duplication shortcuts for modeling objects with repetitive geometry—for example, a staircase or flower petals. To model a flower in a minimum number of steps, you can make one petal and then reproduce it many times around the center (Figure 4.38).

Figure 4.38

Figure 4.38 This flower was made with two objects and one duplication, which placed the petals around the center.

There are three duplication options. The Duplicate tool creates a new copy of your object at the same location. The Duplicate Special tool can be used for more complex duplications, including ones that apply changes to the rotation, translation, and scale of an object. You can also use the Duplicate Special tool to mirror and create instances of objects. Duplicate Special is the only way to duplicate an object's input graph or input connection, which will preserve its construction history (Figure 4.39). (See Chapter 1 for more information about construction history.)

Figure 4.39

Figure 4.39 The sphere's Inputs node holds its editable history attributes.

Duplicate with Transform duplicates an object with offsets determined by relative positioning. It's a more visual alternative to Duplicate Special, but without some of the advanced options.

To duplicate an object

  1. Select an object.
  2. Choose Edit > Duplicate (Figure 4.40).

    Figure 4.40

    Figure 4.40 All the duplicate tools can be found together in the Edit menu.


    Press ctrl_d.gif. Note the lowercase d.

  3. Move your new object away from the original so you can distinguish the two.

To duplicate an object with simple translation

  1. Create a primitive sphere.
  2. Choose Edit > Duplicate with Transform (Figure 4.41).
    Figure 4.41

    Figure 4.41 Choose Edit > Duplicate with Transform.

  3. Move the duplicated sphere a few units in the z direction (Figure 4.42).
    Figure 4.42

    Figure 4.42 Move the sphere the distance you would like your future duplications to copy.

  4. Choose Edit > Duplicate with Transform.

    A new sphere is created. It's the same distance from the second sphere that the second sphere is from the original (Figure 4.43).

    Figure 4.43

    Figure 4.43 Duplicate the object again.

  5. Press shift_d.gif.

    Another duplicate is made, an equal distance from the last (Figure 4.44).

    Figure 4.44

    Figure 4.44 Each new copy moves down the axis the same amount as the original copy.

Constructing with Duplication

Now that you have a general idea of how to duplicate an object, let's examine the third option: Duplicate Special. Duplicate Special duplicates an object with transformations, like Duplicate with Transform; but you can specify the number of duplications and the precise nature of the transforms, which makes this option useful for constructing more elaborate forms.

The key to successfully creating an object with Duplicate Special lies in placing the pivot point in the correct position. This provides the proper axis for the objects to rotate around (Figure 4.45).

Figure 4.45

Figure 4.45 The pivot point's placement determines the placement of a duplicated surface.

To create a simple staircase

  1. Select the box next to Create > Poly Primitive > Cube.

    The Polygon Cube Tool Settings appear.

  2. Change the Single-click Settings to use a Width of 6.0, and a Height and Depth of 1.0 (Figure 4.46).
    Figure 4.46

    Figure 4.46 Change the Polygon Cube Tool Settings to create a cube of a specific size.

  3. Click once in the center of the grid.

    A cube with the specified dimensions appears (Figure 4.47).

    Figure 4.47

    Figure 4.47 The cube is created when you click once in the view.

  4. Press squ_w.gif, or click the Move tool icon Move tool in the toolbar.
  5. Move the cube up so its base rests on the grid.
  6. Press insert_by_home.gif on the keyboard to go into pivot point mode.
  7. Move the pivot point to the far-left edge of the cube, using the x-axis manipulator (Figure 4.48).
    Figure 4.48

    Figure 4.48 The pivot point determines the point in space around which the staircase rotates.

  8. Press insert_by_home.gif again to turn off pivot point mode.
  9. From the Edit menu, select the box next to Duplicate Special to open the Duplicate Special options window.
  10. Set the duplicate options as follows (Figure 4.49):
    Figure 4.49

    Figure 4.49 Set the duplicate options as shown to properly duplicate the cube.

    Translate: 0, 1, 0—This setting moves each new duplicate up the y axis one unit. The cube is one unit high, so each copy sits on top of the previous one.

    Rotate: 0, 15, 0—This setting rotates each duplicate 15 degrees more than the previous one around the y axis.

    Scale: .95, .95, .95—This setting scales each duplicate proportionately to 95 percent the size of the last. The staircase gets smaller as it goes higher.

  11. Enter 20 in the Number of Copies field.

    This setting will create 20 new steps.

  12. Click Duplicate.

    The specified number of copies are made and placed above each other after being rotated and scaled (Figure 4.50).

    Figure 4.50

    Figure 4.50 You can use the Duplicate Special tool to quickly construct geometric or repetitive shapes like this staircase.

Figure 4.51

Figure 4.51 The pivot points of the steps are shown here, revealing that they form a straight line up the center of the staircase.

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