Introducing Maya 6: 3D for Beginners | WebReference

Introducing Maya 6: 3D for Beginners

Introducing Maya 6: 3D for Beginners

This book excerpt is from Dariush Derakhshani's Introducing Maya 6: 3D for Beginners ISBN 0-7821-4353-9. All rights reserved. Chapter 3: Your First Maya Animation, is posted with permission from Sybex.

In this chapter you're going to start using Maya software and make some things move. You've spent some time learning how the Maya interface works and how some of the windows operate, and that's really all you need to know to get started. This chapter will take you through the creation of the solar system and the mechanics of animating orbits. With the solar system exercise, you'll dive into creating simple objects, setting simple keyframes, and stacking your animation to get planets and moons to orbit each other and the sun. This will expose you to object creation, simple modeling, object components, grouping and hierarchies, basic keyframing, and basic timing. Topics include:

  • Project Overview: the Solar System

  • The Preproduction Process: Planning

  • Creating a Project

  • The Production Process: Creating and Animating the Objects

  • Using the Outliner

Project Overview: The Solar System

This project focuses on familiarizing you with the fundamentals of object creation, hierarchy, and pivots. You will create and animate a simple simulation of our working solar system. This tutorial is good practice for getting used to object hierarchies and selections. It will show you how to set up hierarchies and give you experience in working with the proper nodes within a group to create hierarchically layered animation.

The focus in this example is getting used to working with objects.

The Preproduction Process: Planning

As with any good animation, you need to begin with a good plan. The more research and information you gather, the better equipped you'll be. For this simple animation, you'll need to find out where each of the nine planets are in relation to the sun and each other, how they orbit, and how many moons they have.

Starting with the sun in the center, the planets in order are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. They all orbit the sun in ellipses, but you'll be fine with circular orbits for this exercise. Most planets have a number of moons that orbit them, and one has a large ring that circles around it.

Earth 1 moon
Mars 2 small moons
Jupiter 16+ moons
Saturn 3 large rings and 18+ moons
Uranus 18 moons
Neptune 8 moons
Pluto 1 moon

It may seem overwhelming to create and animate all those objects, but it's a fantastic exercise in getting comfortable with Maya animation. Since the essence of the project is attainable without making every moon, you'll cut most of them out of your scene.

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