Maya Foundations: Modeling

Taught by Matt Leonard

Course Number:
Software Version:
Original Run Date:
July 2014 
6 hours 8 minutes 
This new Maya course is the first step in what a larger suite of courses covering all aspects of this award winning software. This first course looks to cover modelling including Polygon, NURBS and Sub-Division Surfaces (using Pixar’s Open Subdiv library). Over the ten weeks we’ll look in-depth at the fundamental building blocks of modelling within Maya, and each class will be project based. Homework will also be assigned if you wish to continue your studies outside of the class.

Once we have gained a general overview of 3D modelling in our first class, we quickly move onto a three week block looking specifically at Polygon modelling. From there we spend two weeks looking in depth at the sometimes misunderstood and often ignored powerful NURBS based toolset. We spend a further two weeks looking at Curves and Surface modelling, including bringing data in from Adobe Illustrator (CC 2014 Release). Our final two weeks will be spent looking at Deformers, which can not only be used for animation, but are powerful modelling tools as well.

This course is aimed at anyone interested in modelling inside of Maya, and will cover the tools to a more detailed level than ever before at fxphd. As mentioned above, it’s going to be very project based while covering all the main tools to a pretty deep level. For the duration of the course we’ll be using the latest version of Maya, currently 2014 Service Pack 2. We will also look at various modelling output methods including obj, .fbx, and .abc (Alembic).

The course is taught by Matt Leonard who has been in the 3D and visual effects industry for over 20 years. He has been using Maya for over one and a half decades and has spoken on behalf of Alias/Wavefront (now Autodesk) over the years. He is a member of the Visual Effects Society and has worked as a beta tester for not only Maya but also Katana, Arnold, RenderMan, Mari, Nuke, and Fusion. He currently runs his own on-site training company in the UK and is also the primary lecturer on the VFX Masters degree course for the University of South Wales.
Maya Foundations: Modeling
Watch our overview of the course

Class Listing

Class 1

In our first class we will set the grounding for the classes to come, looking at the fundamental building blocks of modelling: Polygons, NURBS, and Sub-Division Surfaces. We will examine their structure, editability and how the renderer interprets the information.

Class 2

In our second week we begin a three class project using the Polygon modelling toolset. We'll focus mainly on selection and mesh tools including the ability to work with Edge Rings, Loops and Borders. We also look at the control of Selections such as Growth and Shrink, Contiguous and Boundary. When it comes to working with the meshes directly we'll be covering toolsets such as Combine and Separate, Shape, Mirror, Transfer, Optimize, and Smooth Proxy.

Class 3

In our third week we continue with a Polygon modelling project moving our focus to editing the meshes and the mesh tools. We'll look at how we can edit our models at Vertex, Edge and Face levels using tools such as Chamfer, Bridge, Poke and the more common ones like Bevel, Extrude and Detach. We'll also look at Projecting Curves onto a Mesh along with other controls including Crease, Cut Face, Insert Edge Loop, and Multi-Cut Tool.

Class 4

In our fourth week we finish up our Polygon modelling project looking at Artisan (Sculpt Geometry), the newish Modelling Toolkit, and gain an understanding of Normals along with how to edit them to create the best looking model.

Class 5

In our fifth week we shift gears into NURBS (Non-Uniform Rational Bezier-Spline). We'll start by gaining a more detailed understanding of how NURBS work and their various components (Control Vertex, Isoparms, and Hulls). From there we'll start a new project which will include looking at how Patch Modelling and NURBS relate to each other, then we'll move into using the extensive toolset including functions such as Projections, Trims and Booleans.

Class 6

In our sixth week we continue our exploration of NURBS modelling as we continue our project. As we progress we'll cover tools such as Attach and Detach Surfaces, Insert Isoparm, Rebuild Surface, Fillets and Stitch.

Class 7

In our seventh class we move into looking at building models based on Curves and Surface tools. This extensive toolset brings extra flexibility and enables the modeller to create objects which would be extremely hard to do simply using Primitives as the building blocks. In this initial class we'll build a model based on an Adobe Illustrator logo which is imported into Maya as a Curve. We'll then utilise Bevel Plus to create a 3D version. Along the way we'll talk about Maya's inbuilt Curve tools and various problems that can come up when importing Curves into Maya.

Class 8

In our eighth class we conclude our study of Curves and Surface tools by way of another project which utilises functions such as Revolve, Loft, Extrude and Planar. We'll also look at some of the more complicated Surface tools including Birail (1, 2, and 3+), Boundary, Square and (Animated) Sweep.

Class 9

In our ninth class we start a new project looking at the various Deformers found inside of Maya. Although many of these can be used for animation they also make fantastic modelling tools. This week we'll look at Lattice (FFD), Wrap, ShrinkWrap, Cluster and Soft Modification.

Class 10

In our tenth and final class of the term we'll continue with our Deformer project looking at more tools including Non-Linear Deformers (Bend, Flare, Sine, Squash (and Stretch), Twist, Wave), Sculpt Deformer, Texture Deformer, Wire and Wrinkle