Introducing Maya 6: 3D for Beginners | 2 | WebReference

Introducing Maya 6: 3D for Beginners | 2

Introducing Maya 6: 3D for Beginners

Creating a Project

Start by creating a new project for this assignment. Choose File> Project> New to open the New Project window. (Figure 3.1 shows the Windows version; the Mac OS X version has the same fields.) In the Maya software, files are organized in a particular way. The top level of this organization is the project folder. Within the project folder are numerous file folders that hold your files. The two that stand out are the Scenes and Images folders. The Scenes folder stores your scene files, which contain all the information for your scene, and the Images folder stores images you¡¯ve rendered out from your scene.

The scene files mentioned in this chapter are all included on the CD in a project layout explained here. You can copy the scene files into your own project folders once you create the project.

To create a new project, follow these steps:

1. In the Name field in the New Project window, enter Solar_System as the name for your project. In the Location box, type the location where you want to store your projects. The default location for Windows is My Documents\maya\projects; for Macs, the default location is Home (/Users/) in the Documents/maya/projects/default folder. If you prefer, you can put projects in a folder on your second hard drive to keep them separate from your operating system; this allows for easier backup and is generally a safer environment.

2. On a Windows system, create a folder called Projects (on drive D, for example) through Windows Explorer. On a Mac, select the second drive from the Choose a Folder dialog box (drag the bottom slider all the way to the left to display all your attached and networked hard drives) and create a folder in it called Projects. In the New Project window, click the Browse button and select D:\Projects (Windows) or /Projects (Mac) for the location. All the other fields will be filled in for you with defaults; just click the Use Defaults button. Click Accept to create the necessary folders in your specified location. Figure 3.2 shows the complete New Project window in Windows; except for the drive name, the values are the same on a Macintosh.

Figure 3.1 The New Project window on a Windows system. Maya automatically creates a new file system structure for your project.

Figure 3.2 The completed New Project window

How much disk space you require depends on the project. Depending on the complexity and extent of your models and animation, your scene files will typically be small. Real disk space starts being consumed when you render out hundreds of frames at a time. You'll need about 10–15MB free for this project.

After you create projects, you can switch between them by choosing File > Project > Set and selecting the new project. Maya then uses that project’s folders until you switch to or create another project.

The Production Process: Creating and Animating the Objects

As discussed in Chapter 1, production is typically divided into phases to make workflow easier to manage. In this project, you'll first create the sun, the planets, and their moons; then you'll animate their respective orbits and rotations.

Creating the Sun and the Planets

The first thing we're going to do is create the sun and the planets. Follow these steps:

1. Choose File > New Scene. Maya will ask if you want to save your current scene. Save the file if you need to, or click No to discard the scene.

2. In the four-panel view, press the spacebar with the cursor inside the top view panel to select and maximize it. (By default, Maya starts with the single perspective view. If that's the case, press the spacebar to toggle back into the four-panel view first, and then select the top view to maximize it.)

3. To create the sun, choose Create > NURBS Primitives > Sphere. This will place a NURBS sphere at the origin.that is at a position of 0,0,0 for X,Y,Z. The origin of the workspace will be the center of the solar system.

4. Select nurbsSphere1 in the Channel Box, and type Sun. Keep in mind that Maya is case-sensitive. An object named sun is different from an object named Sun.

Keep in mind that Maya is case-sensitive. An object named sun is different from an object named Sun.

Naming your objects right after creation is a good habit to establish. It makes for a cleaner scene file and a more organized workspace. These are particularly important if anyone needs to alter your scene file.

5. Press R to activate the scale manipulator and uniformly scale it up to about twice its current size. For more precision, you can instead highlight the entry fields (the white window next to the attribute) for the Scale X, Scale Y, and Scale Z channels in the Channel Box and enter the 4 in any of the three fields. A scale of 4 will be entered in all three fields, as shown in Figure 3.3, and your sun will expand in size by a factor of 4. Entering exact values in the Channel Box is a way to scale the sphere precisely. Using the manipulator does the same job but may not be as precise.

Figure 3.3 The sun's Scale values in the Channel Box

Created: March 27, 2003
Revised: November 1, 2004