Advanced Modelling

Advanced Polygon Modelling Workflow


We can be surprisingly fast at modelling in Maya. Most of this has to do with tweaking workflow, installing shortcuts for all modelling tasks. Modelling can be extremely repetitive so it’s worth memorising hotkeys to speed things up.

The Maya prefs can be customised heavily, we want to do this to speed up our workflow. You can use my prefs which have optimised workflow for modelling rigging and animation. See the Maya Prefs section and related hotkeys for more notes.

Professor Timelapse – Andrew Silke


This Page Is Beta: Temp vids and some content may not match.


Cylinder Plane Connect Exercise (10 mins)

My most polular and possibly my most helpful tutorials is the famous “cylinedr and plane excersize.

This excersize does two things
1. Will get you introduced to my hotkeys
2. Shows how easy it is to connect two shapes together in polys.

Box modelling is popular since no student enjoys joining two poly objects together. But it’s actually much much easier than one would think and with a little practice we can forget the need to extrude all the time.

So excersize is a little bit of a remedy against the box modelling workflows that most students get taught and stuck in. It’s much simpler easier and gives better forms if students start from primitives rather than extruding models. And this has been verified by loads of my students time and time again.

Video 1.1: Cylinder Plane Connect Exercise (10:27 mins)


Video Notes

Cylinder Plane Connect Exercise
Here’s a simple exercise I give to all new students. This exercise helps to get used to the new hotkeys and speed up workflow inside of Maya.

Create the objects
ctrl shift i = cylinder
ctrl shift p = plane

Vertex, Edge and Face Modes
vertex = alt 1
edge = alt 2
face = alt 3
object mode = alt q
deselect object = alt q (x 2)

Smooth/Hull/Poly mode
1, 2, and 3 keys are now…
Poly Hull Mode = ctrl alt 1
Smooth Hull Mode = ctrl alt 2
Smooth Subd mode = ctrl alt 3

Move Rotate Scale Select
Move = w
Rotate = e
Scale = r
Select = q

Shading modes
Shaded/wireframe toggle= 1
Wireframe on shaded toggle= shift 2
Xray toggle = shift 1
Lighting toggle = ctrl 1
Texture toggle = 2

Snap Keys
Vertex snap = / (?)
Curve snap = . (>)
Grid snap = , (<)

Modelling Hotkeys
Edge loop split = ctrl alt e

split polygon tool = ctrl q
(or interactive split tool = ctrl shift q)

grow selection = shift . (>)

Merge Vertices = ctrl w
split polygon tool = ctrl q

Move Manipulator Settings
We don’t want to click on the manipulator all the time, so Ctrl Click on the manipulator axis you want to disable then Middle Click once a vert is selected to move on a single plane.

Ctrl click in the middle on the manipulator to return to normal mode.

Combine = ctrl shift alt c

Bridge Hotkeys
Append to Polygon Tool = alt \ (under delete key)
Be sure to click on the edge. If make a mistake middle click to select the last vert/edge then hit delete.

Bridge = ctrl alt shift b
(then channel box and 0 divisions)

Quad Draw = ctrl alt d + normal mouse click (hold down for marking menu) > Quad Draw
hold shift over an opening and normal click to create a polygon
hold shift over an edge to edge loop split
normal click to create green vertices

Extrude = ctrl e
ctrl click on the blue scale box to extrude in easily

Managing Objects
Delete History = alt d
Freeze transforms = alt f

Translate marking menu = w (hold and left click mouse)
Disable an Axis = ctrl click (do once don’t hold)


6 ways to Mirror Polygons in Maya (8 mins)

Strangley mirroring polys in Maya is tricky, far trickier than it should be. So introducing the solution to this in the mirrorMe.mel script which works wonderfully. A simple trick but a great one until maya sorts out its mirroring issues which have been plaguing it for time eternity.

Video 2.1: 6 ways to Mirror Polygons in Maya (8:08 mins)


Video Notes

Maya isn’t the best program for symmetry mode. There’s a mel script which makes it fine to use.

Mirroring Objects

1. Use the MirrorMe.mel script = shift m
The mirrorMe options can be found by pressing (ctrl shift alt m)

2. Use reflection mode = alt m
Reflection mode options can be found by double clicking the move tool in the toolbox

3. Duplicate, group and mirror the group -1 on x axis
ctrl d, ctrl g then type -1 in the channel box for x scale.

4. Instance Duplicate, group then mirror the group -1 on the x axis
Edit > Duplicate Special (options)
Reset Settings
Geometry Type: Instance
Scale: -1 1 1
Hit Apply

5. Use the ToolKit symmetry
Open the toolkit
Activate it
click on an edge in the middle of the object
press the symmetry button

6. Mesh – Mirror geometry


Tweaking Verts(Fundamentals Tip) (11 mins)

Tweaking Vertices
Keeping meshes smooth and bump free can be a difficult thing in Maya. These videos show the ways we can keep our meshes smooth and rounded.

1. Tweaking Verts Manually
2. Using The Sculpt Polygons Tool
3. Using The Toolkit’s Constraints to Trace Reference Objects90

Video 3.1: Tweaking Verts(Fundamentals Tip) (4:12 mins)


Video Notes

Biggest mistake beginners make in modeling is to not tumble around the object enough, and see it from multiple angles.

To tweak verts manually we need two views at 90 degrees to each other. Ie front and top. in each view we can see two axis, so two views and we have xy and z covered.

To do this free form. Ctrl Middle click on the middle of the manipulator and use middle click drag.

Frame the vert with “f” to tumble around it.

Video 3.2: Relaxing and Smoothing with the Sculpt Polygon Tool (3:35 mins)


Video Notes

The Smooth and Relax features of the sculpt geometry tool can help to relax our verts.

The Sculpt Geometry window is found here..
Polygon Menu > Mesh > Sculpt Geometry Tool (options)
hotkey = shift p

size the brush = b
strength of the brush = m

Smooth mode can be accessed by holding shift at any time.

Smooth will suck into the mesh if rounded.
Relax will attempt to maintain volume.

Video 3.3: Guide Objects To Smooth Meshes in the Toolkit (3:50 mins)


Video Notes

The Modeling Toolkit in 2014 finally allows us to properly trace background polygon objects while modeling.

1. Open up the Toolkit (icon top right corner)
2. Activate the Toolkit (options > Activate Modeling Toolkit)
3. Select the reference object to snap to…
Transform Constraints > Other Surface > (Pick Object)
4. Now tweak the vertices

An easier method uses my Toolkit Marking Menu (ctrl alt d)
1. Select the reference object
2. ctrl alt d > select constrained object

to switch off constrained object
ctrl alt d > Constrained Off

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