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

Introducing Maya 6: 3D for Beginners | 3

Introducing Maya 6: 3D for Beginners

Creating the Planets

Next create the planets. Follow these steps:

1. Create a NURBS sphere for Mercury and name it as such.

2. Press W to activate the move manipulator, and move Mercury a few grid units away from the sun in the positive X direction. (Click the red arrow and drag it to the right.) Leave about two grid units between Mercury and the sun.

3. Since Mercury is the second smallest planet and is tiny compared with the sun, scale it down to 1/20 the size of the sun, or 0.2 in all three axes of scale.

4. Repeat steps 1 through 3 to create the rest of the planets and line them up, each progressively farther out in the X axis. Be sure to keep about two grid units of space between each of them. Scale each one to be proportional as follows:

Venus 0.5
Earth 0.5
Mars 0.4
Jupiter 1.0
Saturn 0.9
Uranus 0.7
Neptune 0.7
Pluto 0.15

Now of course this is not a precise proportion to the solar system, but it will do nicely here. Figure 3.4 shows how your solar system should look now.

Figure 3.4 Top view—all the NURBS spheres lined up in place

  Icon Name Description  
  Snap to Grids Snaps objects to intersections of the view’s grid  
  Snap to Curves Snaps objects along a curve  
  Snap to Points Snaps objects to object points such as CVs or vertices  
  Snap to View Planes Snaps objects to view planes  

You use snaps to snap objects into place with precision, by placing them by their pivot points directly onto grid points, onto other object pivots, onto curve points, and so on. Here you will slightly reposition all the planets to center them on the nearest grid line intersection. Follow these steps:

1. Select the first planet, Mercury, and toggle on the grid snaps by clicking the grid snap icon:

2. The center of the move manipulator turns from a square to a circle, signaling that some form of snapping is active. Grab the manipulator in the middle by this circle, and move it slightly to the left or right to snap it onto the closest grid intersection on the X axis.

3. Select the remaining planets, and snap them all to the closest grid intersection on the X axis, making sure to keep about two grid spaces between each of them. Since the sun was created at the origin, and you haven't moved it, you don't need to snap it onto an intersection.

Making Saturn's Ring

You will now create the ring for your Saturn. Follow these steps:

1. Choose Create > NURBS Primitives > Torus to get a donut shape. Snap the ring to the same grid intersection as Saturn. This will ensure that both the planet and its ring are on the same pivot point; they share the same center.

2. Select the torus shape you've created, and name it Ring (if you haven't already done so).

3. While the torus shape is still selected, press the spacebar to display the four-panel layout, and maximize the perspective window.

4. Press F to focus the perspective display on the ring.and on Saturn as well.

5. Press 5 to get into shaded mode, and with the torus selected, press 3 to increase the resolution display for the ring.

6. Press R to display the scale manipulator, and scale it down to 0 or close to 0 in the Y axis to flatten it.


As you're working on a project, you may want to save multiple versions of your files at various stages of completion. When working in the professional world, you'll find that clients and art directors often reconsider animations you've created, so it's always good to keep as many versions of an animation as you can. Scene files are reasonably small, and hard disk space is inexpensive. Just keep your scene folder organized well.for example, by keeping older versions of scenes in separate subfolders.and you should have no problems.

Maya 6's incremental save feature is a valuable tool for saving multiple stages of your work, and you may wish to use it as you work through the tutorial projects in this book. Once you've turned on this feature, you can use it to save and create a backup at any stage in your work. If you need to take a break before the instructions tell you to save, you'll be able to start again with the most recent version of your scene file.

Incremental save makes a backup of your scene file every time you save it. To enable it, choose File > Save Scene q and click the Incremental Save option box. Once you've done this, Maya creates a new folder within your Scenes folder with the name of your current scene file. It then creates a backup of your scene in that folder and appends a number to the filename; for example, planets_001.mb. Every time you save your file, Maya creates a new backup. Once you enable incremental save, Maya continues to keep the option turned on until you disable it through File > Save Scene q

The scene files for the projects in this book are provided on the accompanying CD to give you a reference point for the major stages of each project; compare your own version to those files to make sure you're following the instructions correctly. (In later chapters, some projects also begin with a scene file from the CD.) These files use a slightly different naming system than the names generated by incremental save (for example, planets_v1.mb instead of planets_001.mb), and there is no risk of files overwriting each other.

For important real-world projects, you may decide to supplement the incremental save backups by using Save Scene As to create manually named files, perhaps following a similar naming system, at the stages where you've made significant changes. This may make it easier to identify specific versions of a scene for comparison. Whether you do this or use incremental save, it's a good idea to keep written notes about the differences in each version of a scene file; so whenever you make a significant change to a file, you have a record of your work. (If you do name files manually, be sure to use an underscore (_) between the filename and version number instead of a space. Using spaces in your filenames can create problems with the software and with the operating system, especially when you're rendering out a scene.)

You'll notice that the ring is too fat and is cutting into the planet. You need to edit the attributes of the ring to increase the inside radius of the donut shape and create a gap between the planet and the ring.

7. Press Ctrl+A to open the Attribute Editor, and then click the makeNurbTorus1 tab to select its creation node. (See Figure 3.5.)

8. Increase the Radius attribute to about 1.5 and decrease the Height Ratio about 0.25 to get the desired effect.

Now all your planets are complete, and you can move on to the moons.

Changing the original attributes or parameters of an object as you've just done with Saturn's ring is often referred to as parametric modeling.


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