Learning Maya

Another “Wisdom Collector” is up and running, this time about the 3D modeling and animation software Maya. I had a hard time figuring out how to get started with Maya until I got permission to sit in on a couple of classes on the subject and actually watch the instructor use the software. If you have a friend that can show you how to get started, it’s definitely worth buying them dinner in trade for their time and knowledge. Our Maya Wisdom Collector is very much a work in progress, but here is the link in case you want to see what we’ve got so far:

maya_collector_logo

The first assignment in the class I’ve been auditing was to make 50 forms using Maya. You could make whatever kind of form or object you liked, as long as you created 50 things from scratch using the various tools and methods available in Maya. Being from a math background, I’ve never had an assignment like that; we often have tasks like “solve these 50 integrals,” but that’s much different than “make up 50 questions and answer them,” for example. For learning modeling it turns out that this assignment is genius, and it’s how I’m going to start all of my 3D-printing classes this way from now on: Make 50 things!

I decided to make 10 things, each with 5 variations, so that I could experiment with various morphing and modeling tools. Here they are in Maya:

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I printed the objects out as I went along, and here they are in real life:

IMG_2760 (1)a

Learning Maya seems to be a lot about developing “muscle memory” — just learning where to find all the menus, submenus, windows, preferences, and options is a monumental task. In the first picture above you can see a lot of buttons and menus, but I am not joking when I say that what you see in that picture is maybe only one percent of the buttons and menus that can appear on the screen. That I know of.

The second assignment was to make a fully articulated desk lamp with working pivot points. Somehow I actually managed to do this:

lamps

Although pretty, this particular model would be terrible for Actually Printing, since in fact the joints are fused together, and I’m not even certain that the lightbulb touches the rest of the lamp at all. But I learned a lot making this lamp, and thinking about how a joint might conceivably look was really interesting.

Over time I’ll find some good links to introductory videos and tutorials, and add them to the Maya Wisdom Collector. If you have any favorites to recommend, let me know!