Hello everyone,

We are back with an exciting post that gives you loads of killer tips, tricks and techniques to speed up your workflow while using Maya.

All of the tricks mentioned in this blog post have been tested in Autodesk Maya 2014.

So, without much preamble, let’s get down to business.

 Presented below is episode 1 of Maya Tips and Techniques.

Tip no. 1: ROUNDED BOTTOM

We can create a polygon cylinder primitive with a rounded bottom and top very easily. This shape is useful to create models like a minion, the nose cone of an aircraft, a sci-fi capsule, a water gun, etc.

Create a default polygon cylinder.
Go to its inputs in the channel box.
Set Round Cap to ON.
Change Subdivisions Caps to 5.
And you are done.

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Tip no. 2: EASY ARC LENGTH

Often, while rigging, one must find the arc length of curves. Generally it is done using nodes. This is a super easy tip to find the arc length of any curve quickly in the viewport.

Go to Create > Measure tools >Arc length tool

Click on the curve to see the arc length at that point in the view port. If the curve is resized, the arc length will update on its own.

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Tip no. 3: FAST CLUSTER

Have you ever had a situation where you have to cluster every control vertex of a curve? It is a time consuming task, right?

Well, try the following time saver.

Select the curve.

Switch to Surfaces menu set.

Click on Edit Curves > Selection > Cluster Curve

Another cool trick is to CTRL + RMB on the viewport and select Cluster from the marking menu. The curve must be selected first.

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Tip no. 4: POLY DISK PRIMITIVE

How many primitives are there in the polygon menu? If you say twelve you may be wrong.

Because there is a hidden primitive called poly disk which can only be created from a marking menu.

Shift + RMB click anywhere on the viewport and select Poly Disk from the marking menu.

If you put this one to good use, do let us know by sending an email to satish@jainanimation.in

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Tip no. 5: MOTION TRAIL

This tool is an useful addition to the animator’s arsenal.

Say, a ball is key framed to move from point A to point B.

Select the ball and click on Animate > Create Editable Motion Trail. The motion trail appears in the viewport. The key frames are visible as white dots. We can move and reposition the key frames in order to change the animation.

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One can turn on the in and out tangents in the channel box. Now it is very convenient to add ease-in and ease-out to the animation on the fly.

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Tip no. 6: POLY SPHERE MADE OF QUADS

A polygon sphere generally has triangles converging at its poles.

Often in modeling, we must avoid such triangles. Here is a quick way to create a polygon sphere made of only quads.

Create a polygon cube. Hit 3 on the keyboard to smooth mesh preview it. Go to Modify -> Convert and click on smooth mesh preview to polygons.

Now you get a spherical object made of quads. It is not perfect yet.

While it is still selected, switch the menu set to Animation. Click on Create Deformers -> Sculpt Deformer.

Delete the history and you have a perfect polygon sphere made of quads.

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Tip no. 7: DELETE STATIC CHANNELS

It is a general practice to keep Autokey ON while animating.

This is also adds a lot of clutter in the graph editor and cleaning it up can be a tiresome task.

This is the fastest way to remove all those unwanted key frames from the scene.

Select the object/controls. Click on Edit -> Delete by Type -> Static Channels.

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Tip no. 8: SYMMETRY CONSTRAINT

Symmetry constraint must not be confused with regular animation constraints.

Symmetry constraint is integrated into the joint tool.

In the Animation menu set, select Skeleton -> Joint Tool Option box .

In the Joint Settings, Symmetry is Off by default.

You can set the axis of symmetry by selecting X-axis, Y-axis, or Z-axis from the Symmetry drop-down list.

To create symmetric joint, click in the view port on your model. The original joints will appear blue. The symmetry joints will appear pink.

 

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Tip no. 9: PARTICLE DEFORMER

A particle system can be deformed into any shape by using the deformers in Maya.

Just select the particle object, click on Create Deformers and select any of them. It is easier to try this rather than explaining.

The below example uses a sine deformer on particles from a directional emitter.

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Tip no. 10: PLATONIC ROCKS

Want to create some rocks for your scene? Then Platonic solids in Maya is a good starting point.

Create a dodecahedron by clicking on Create -> Polygon Primitives -> Platonic Solids Options.

You will see 12 pentagonal surfaces connected together as a dodecahedron.

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Use your creativity and extrude the faces. Then smooth and sculpt it into amazing rocks and boulders.

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 This concludes episode 1 of Maya Tips and Techniques. We will be back with more soon.

You can mail your queries to the author at the following email – satish@jainanimation.in

I wish you good luck in exploring Maya.