Autodesk Maya FAQ

Maya Frequently Asked Questions by Designers

    Summary: Learning the Maya interface can be challenging for many newbies creating architectural design forms or product designs in Maya. There are a variety of techniques and features to explore. As an introduction to learning the software, we've gathered and answered some of the most commonly asked questions by students and designers learning 3D polygon modeling for architectural modeling and contemporary furniture designs in Maya. This tutorial answers some of the most commonly asked questions by students and designers using the polygonal mesh modeling mode in Maya or Maya LT.
    Software: Autodesk Maya
    Modeling Mode: Polygonal Modeling
    Level: Beginner    Tutorial by: 


I am missing polygon surfaces in my Maya model. How can I quickly patch the model with a surface?

If you have one surface missing, you can choose the 'Fill Hole' command found in the Mesh modeling menu of the polygon shelf: Mesh Fill Hole. If there are more than two surfaces or greater than 4 vertices missing, try the 'Append to Polygon' tool found in the 'Edit Mesh' menu set. This method creates a polygon surface by snapping to the select vertice edges.

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How can I change the Gizmo center of my object in Maya?

The operation 'Center Point' found in the 'Modify' menu alters the center of the object in Autodesk Maya to a custom point. The letter d on your keyboards serves as the default shortkey for this command.

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How do I draw edge lines on my polygon to divide it further into a denser divisions? Can this be completed uniformly?

Both the 'Insert Edge Loop' and 'Interactive Split Tool' found in the 'Edit Mesh' menu set create edges and divide the polygon geometry. The 'Add Divisions' menu operand divides the polygon in uniform divisions.

When should I subd (subdivide) my model?

You should subdivide (sub-d proxy) your model before exporting to other programs and before rendering. As a rule of thumb, please make a duplicate of your object before subdividing to continue modeling and developing your project form further in the polygonal modeling mode. To subdivide, go to the Proxy menu . Select the small square gui adjacent to the Proxy command to alter the proxy default settings and change the sub-division density options.

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I tried to duplicate (and duplicate special) my polygon object, but I received an error message in the script error stating, "/ Error: line 0: No object(s) to duplicate". Why isn't the function working?

Modeling in Maya involves one of three selection modes: Hierarchy, Object and Component. By default, the object and component mode selections are color coded differently. OBJECT MODE displays a GREEN OUTLINE. A BLUE OUTLINE IS VISIBLE IN COMPONENT SELECTION MODE.The component mode additionally shows individual point nodes. If you are already in component mode, type 'b' to enable the soft selection mode. Icons for the three selection modes appear on the Status Line adjacent to the snaps tool series. So if you see point vertices and blue edges displayed on your model, you are modeling in Component mode. Newcomers to Maya often find this method of 3D modeling irritating and cumbersome. But after hours using the software, you'll find switching back and forth between modes elementary. RULE: If you try to duplicate your polygon object within the component mode, you will often see errors like this: "Error: line 0: No object(s) to duplicate". Technically, there are no objects selected when duplicating using component mode. Please remember to duplicate objects using the object selection mode.

Maya is highly dependent on logical operands. If you ever start rigging, you'll learn how logical progression, hierarchy and layer organization are essential tools for modeling in Maya.

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I don't understand the scale in Maya. How can I make my polygonal mesh a certain size? What is your recommended workflow for using the software?

Scale is always a factor with freeform polygonal modeling in Maya. To review your model size, use either the Attribute Editor or Channel Box Scale located on the right side panel on your screen. What is your recommended workflow?The beauty of Maya lies in the exploration of freeform modeling. With more complex merges, divisions, and extrusions - scale and precision can be easily ignored during the design process. Keeping that in mind, I tend to include a scaled reference object plus a bounding box region on separate locked layers in my model. If I'm exploring architecture forms or product design ideas, I'll review the references to visually understand the suggested scale for the product or design form. You can create those references directly in Maya or import a more detailed one designed from Rhino. As for workflow, I always use Rhino to accurately edit and optimize my design forms.

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I designed two polygonal shell meshes. No edge or vertice is touching the adjacent mesh. They are neither connected by a face or edge border. I want to combine the two (2) meshes into one single object. When I used the combine command, the objects are grouped but not united or connected with border edges. Why isn't this working? What am I doing wrong?

There are different ways to combine two polygonal meshes as a single object. But the combine command will not automatically construct faces between the polygonal mesh border edges. The Bridge command and/or Append to Polygon tool are useful in addition to the Combine command. With the Bridge command, you can automatically connect edges together and form a bridged mesh between the two polygons. NOTE: To 'bridge' a polygonal object, the object must be combined first!
Mesh Combine
Edit Mesh Bridge You may also use the Append to Polygon tool

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When is soft selection mode helpful?

In component mode, type b to enable soft selection mode. To turn off soft selection off, press 'b' again. Soft selection mode may be helpful when sculpting or creating gradual slopes in a chain or surface. Instead of modifying one individual node or edge, soft selection mode approximates the modification as derived from the fallout area color gradient. Learn more about Autodesk Maya soft selection mode and soft modification tools.

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How do I turn on smooth mesh preview mode? When should I turn on smooth mesh preview mode? I typed 1 and my entire model is deformed with intersections. What should I do? How can I fix this?

Just like Sketchup, modeling in Maya can become very fussy. Multiple surface intersections, dangling edges, unmerged vertices, irregular uv normals can all create the dreaded nonmanifold geometry. Non-manifold geometry may also be created by extruding faces. Regularly cycling between smooth mesh preview mode (by pressing keys 1, 2 or 3 on your keyboard) can help reduce modeling errors and improve your design workflow. If you uncover that your model has intersection deformations during smooth mesh previews, maunally select the vertices, edge or face and move the component to create more cleaned geometry. Turn on the shading xray view to display inner irregularlities of your geometry. Ideally, your polygons should be empty shells with no crossing mesh intersections in any mode. Remember to occassionally check your object typology using the Mesh Cleanup tool and regularly view your normals using the following operations in Maya:
Mesh Cleanup
Display Polygons Face Normals
Display Heads Up Display Polycount

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