The Graph Editor

Maya Animation: Function Curves


Alex Karonis – A Bumpy Ride – Previs

Alex Karonis – A Bumpy Ride – Previs


Changing the Frame Rate (FPS)
Window > Settings/Preferences > Preferences > Settings > Time > PAL (25fps) or other

Animation Settings for things like fcurve defaults
Window > Settings/Preferences > Preferences > Animation

Making the Timeline Bigger For Visualising Audio

Setting Keys
Set key for translate = shift w
Set Key for Rotation = shift e
Set Key for Scale = shift r
Set key for all = s
Set Key for one attribute = (right click on attribute name in the channel box) right click set key

Using the Channel Box as a slider
Click on the attribute name in the channel box.
– middle click drag in the 3d window.
– shift makes it go faste
– ctrl makes it go slower

Moving Keys in the Time Slider
To select in the time slider.
– Hold down shift and click on the key
– Hold down shift and click drag over many keys
To move
Click in the middle of the red area and drag
To Scale
Click on the tiny arrows at each end of the red selection, drag out to scale.

Setting the Default Curve Tangent to Auto Tangent Type
1. Return your default hotkeys to be Automatic in the preferences window.
Window > Settings/Preferences > Preferences
Animation > Default Tangent > Auto (for default in and out)

Returning to Stepped Keys
This is not compatible with the Morpheus Rig
– Right click > stepped mode in the timeline (to return to stepped keys)
Right click in the timeline > Enable Stepped Key Preview

How to show the Time Slider and Range Slider
If you loose the Time Slider or Range Slider
– Right click on the dotted grey area next to any toolbar. Click on
– Time Slider or Range Slider



Framing Curves

Time Snap
Make sure time snap is on (magnet icon with ticks below)

Navigating the Graph Editor
In the graph editor you navigate like other 3d windows.
pan = hold alt, middle click drag
zoom = hold alt, right click drag
To zoom on one axis = hold alt and shift then right click drag (in the desired direction)

Move Keys in the Graph editor
Select the move tool = w
Move = middle click drag

Move Keys on One Axis
Select the move tool = w
Move = hold shift and middle click drag in a direction

Numerical Move
Select the time number input area at the top of the graph editor and type your new value.

Numerical Offset Move
Select the time number input area at the top of the graph editor.
Make sure you highlight the number for either time or value. Type the following:

To Add 10: +=10
To Subtract 10: -=10

Scale keys
Select the move tool = r
Scale = middle click drag

Scale Keys on One Axis
Select the scale tool = r
Scale = hold shift and middle click drag in a direction

Numerical Scale
graph editor > edit > scale (option box)

To Snap Keys
graph editor > Edit > Snap
click the time snap icon (a magnet) or value snap icon (a magnet)
and move the keys a little, they will snap into place.

Tangent Types
There’s a few tangent types in Maya the main ones are:
– Auto (Automatically tries to be smart about what your tangents should do)
– Spline (tangent point or average the next and previous keys)
– Linear (straight lines)
– Flat (flattens all the tangents)
– Stepped (for animatic and storyboard like animation, or on/off animation)

Scrub Mode
hold the “k” key and left click and drag

Scrub Mode without moving the pose
hold the “k” key and middle click and drag

Changing the Default Copy And Paste Options
It’s highly recommended to change the paste options to “merge”

1. go to the graph editor > edit > paste (options)
2. Paste Key Options > Edit > Reset Settings
3. Click on the “Help Images”
4. Paste Method: Click on Merge
Copy = “apple c” on PC it’s “ctrl c”
Paste = “apple v” on PC it’s “ctrl v”

Changing the Set Key Options
By default the “s” key is set to Key All, a better setup is to have it key the channel box’s “selected attribute” and have shift+S key all instead.

1. Animate > Set Keys (option)
2. In the window go Edit > Reset Defaults
3. Click “All Keyable Attributes”
4. In the bottom section “from channel box”

Now we want to set a hotkey for shift s

1. Windows > Settings Preferences > Hotkey Editor
2. In the Categories tab scroll down to User, this is where we can make custom hotkeys
3. Click “New” on the right hand side
4. copy the following mel into the command section…
5. Call the shortcut a name like Anim_SetKeyframeAll
6. Hit Accept to confirm the command
7. Assign that command to the hotkey “shift s”

How to Cycle a Curve
Easiest way to cycle a curve is in the fcurve editor with the icon with a curve and either a left or right arrow above. Hitting these will cycle pre or post infinity, they will also automatically switch the infinity on.

To switch off cycles
1. select the curve/s
2. FCurve editor > Pre Infinity > Constant
2. and FCurve editor > post Infinity > Constant

Toggle Infinity On/Off
1. FCurve editor > View > Infinity

Other Cycle types
Cycle will Offset = like a stair case
Linear = keeps the curve going in it’s current trajectory
Oscillate = cycles back n forth

Non destructive Inserting Keys
If we set a keyframe with any of our usual hotkeys they’re prone to slightly alter the curves. The insert key function in the graph editor is the non destructive way to add a keyframe whislt keeping our curves exactly the same.

FCurve Editor > Keys > Insert Key

or the 2nd icon from the left with the key and a + sign.

Add Keys Tool
Another nice way of adding keys is with the add keys tool

FCurve Editor > Keys > Add Key Tool

This allows us to click and drag new keys out in the graph editor

Using the Lattice
The lattice tool lets us modify curves on mass and can be handy for baked keys and motion capture.

Rippling Keys

Region Tool

Buffering Curves

Non Weighted Tangents Vs Weighted Tangents

Full Control Over Tangents
Breaking or making big or small

Breakdown Keys

Curve Isolate Curves

Selecting in the Channel Box to find curves


Andrew Silke

Last Updated

October 2015

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