Maya Animation Tasks

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For this task, we had to create a key-frame animation in Maya using three different 3D primitives.

To begin, we set the animation settings to ‘Realtime’ and ’24’ fps, via Windows-> Settings/Preferences -> Preferences. Ensuring that ‘weighted tangents’ was selected, as well as the default set to linear, we were then able to begin the task.

Creating 3 different polygons, cube, sphere and cone, I spaced them relatively evenly apart. Ensuring that the attribute editor is open, I selected the cube and first frame on the time slider. I then navigated to the channel box and right-clicked on the ‘translate X’ option, of which allowed me to click on ‘Key selected’. You are notified of a created key-frame once the box has gone red.

I then moved the time-slider to frame 24, and moved the cube across to the opposite side of the grid plane. I then repeated the earlier process of creating a key-frame, selecting ‘Key selected’ for translate X.

Dragging the range slider to frame 48, as well as repeating the key-frame process for the sphere, allows me to move this object at half the speed of the cube. The same process is repeated for the cone, but this time its end point is reached at the 72nd frame.

Moving the cube back to the start of the grid, a key-frame is created at 48 frames. Moving it to the end again and creating another key-frame, this time at 72 frames, concludes, for now, the animation regarding the cube.

The sphere, at frame 72, is moved to the middle of the grid via the changing of its X translation to 0. Once positioned correctly, a key-frame is created.

Going back to the cube, a key-frame is created at frame 1 regarding Rotate X set at 0. At frame 72, another key-frame is created for Rotate X, however, this one is set to 1080. This configuration causes the cube to spin while moving across the grid.

For the Sphere, a similar process is used. However, Rotate Y is used instead, with the settings at frame 72 being 360 instead of 1080.

For the cone, Rotate Z is used. With the end number for Rotate Z on the 72nd frame being -90. This causes the cone to tip forward as it along the grid.

Navigating to Windows -> Rendering Editors -> Render View will allow you to apply shaders and textures to your objects, of which is the next stage of this task. Selecting Lambert from the Surface shaders is the next step, of which then has a colour applied to it via the menu on the right hand side of the screen. The material is then assigned to the cube via right clicking the material on the top right of the screen and selecting ‘Assign Material To Selection’.

This process is then repeated with various different shaders, materials and colours for the other objects.

We were then tasked with creating three separate animations, tied together via intertwined animation principles and processes.

The three tasks were thus; animate a heavy ball being dropped/bounced, animate a football rebounding off of a wall, and animate a ball bouncing down stairs.

In order to animate the heavy ball falling and bouncing, I had to consider the physics of such an occasion, as well as the possible materials that the ball would be made of. The conclusion was thus; the ball would drop and barely bounce, rebounding shallowly several times in quick succession before settling down.

The process I used comprised of creating a sphere, selecting the first frame, editing the Translate Y and Translate X co-ordinates, and right clicking them to select ‘Key Selected’ in order to create a key-frame. This process was repeated multiple times for all three animations, rather similar as to how the animation earlier in this post was created.

Utilising various animation principles, I planned out and executed the theory or ‘Squash and Stretch’, manipulating the size and rotation of the sphere as it moved through the air and made contact with other surfaces.

The graph editor was used to smooth out the animation, utilising the ‘Break Tangents’ option for finer control.

Heavy Ball Animation:

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Rebounding Animation:

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Stairs Animation:

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We then moved onto another task, this one being lighting-based. We had to apply materials and lighting to a supplied model of a robot. In order to do so, we had to create and place several light sources, and then manipulate said light sources. Changing the distance, intensity and colour of these lights allowed us to create primary, fill and edge lighting, as well as different atmospheres and emotional responses.



Moving on-wards, we did some more animation work, this time experimenting with a rig for a human character. We applied a rig to the supplied model and then manipulated it, moving the skeleton and nodes via Reverse Kinematics and key-frames in order to create an experimentation in animation.



Fuse Modelling/Model Editing Experimentation:

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In this exercise we composed and edited a 3D model using a variety of preset modular elements and sliders, using our own faces as points of reference for the character. After creating and editing the character, we clothed it via picking from more preset options.

Finally, we uploaded it to a Mixamo Autorigger, allowing us to experiment with a variety of different preset animations that have already been created for open source use.


Maya Column Tutorial

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For this task, we had to create a pillar in Maya while following a specific tutorial. In order to create said pillar, we had to utilize various primitive 3D shapes, manipulate them, and position them in the correct area in order to create the pillar.

The three main primitives used and manipulated were; the cube, cylinder, and torus.

In order to create the stepped base of the column, we had to edit the mesh via its edge loops, made possible via Edit Mesh -> Insert Edge Loop Tool (-> Options Box). I ensured that two edge loops are created when inserted, pressing the R key and dragging the edge loops, once in place, demarcates space for the steps. Before doing so, however, a cube was created and edited. The properties it received were thus; Scale Y 0.15, (insert other properties).

Once edge loops had been inserted along each edge of the column base, they were edited to ensure accuracy during the Extruding phase. Clicking the middle mouse button over the object allows you to select the central face, of which is then edited via Edit Mesh -> Extrude. Resetting the Extrude options may be helpful, as it might behave in a different way than you desire. The settings to input were; Thickness 0.2, Offset 0, Divisions 1. The process is then repeated multiple times until you are happy with the result, preferably twice more.

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For the bulk of the column, a cylinder is created and named columnCylinder. This primitive is then given the following settings; Radius 0.4, Height 8, Subdivision axis 32, Subdivision height 1, Subdivision caps 1. Some additional manipulation is required, positioning the cylinder in the correct orientation. Turning on point snapping and holding down the D key allows you to move the pivot point to the base of the column, releasing the D key and then moving the column again allows for finer control.

Afterwards, a torus polygon is created; this primitive is used for near the top of the column, of which will be topped by a modified duplicate of the base. The settings for the torus polygon is thus; Radius 0.4, Section radius 0.1, Twist 0, Subdivision axis 12, Subdivision height 12.

The torus is then placed at the top of the pillar using the move tool, its position edited and finessed in order to eliminate any gaps.

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Then, ‘columnBase’ is selected, followed by pressing CMD+D in order to duplicate it. The duplicate is then renamed ‘topColumn’, and is moved to the top of the column. Pressing spacebar will allow you to view the scene in four different perspective views and angles. Utilizing these views, carefully place the ‘topColumn’ on top of the torus.

Scaling of ‘topColumn’ may be required, and once everything is in place, you may select all of the objects in the scene. To do so, use the select tool (“Q”) and drag over all of the objects. Pressing CMD+G will group the objects together. Naming the group is helpful, and may be done so via the channel panel.

Once grouped, the column may be moved as a whole, allowing you to duplicate it and create a larger scene.

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3D Topology, Maya and Careers


Topology refers to the surface of a 3D object, usually displayed and manipulated via a 3D mesh made up of quads. Triangular faces are usually undesirable, with 4-sided quads being easier to manipulate. Sub-divisions allow greater detail density and finer manipulations of the topology, however, the higher the sub-divisions, the more memory is required to render the model efficiently.

Topology is usually manipulated using Hulls and Control Vertices, with the two main types of modeling being Polygonal (vertices, edges and faces) and NURBS. Ngons are usually avoided, as they are regarded as bad topology due to the complications that arise from faces with 5 or more edges and vertices. The same goes for triangles; any face with 3 edges or vertices are problematic when it comes to rendering, rigging and animating. Ngons and triangles both have the habit of causing artifacting to occur, complicating the modeling, animating and rendering processes. Quads, as they are easier to manipulate and are less prone to strange artifacting, are more desirable when it comes to clean topology.



 Maya Work-space:

Asset management is an incredibly important part of Maya, as well as most other software applications, and allows you to maintain an orderly and efficient work-space. The correct labelling of file structures (Underscores are preferred over spaces) and placement of files will help ensure a smooth workflow.

The process for setting up a project in Maya is thus; File -> Set Project -> Select file structure that you desire to use -> Click Set. This ties your scene, and everything related to it, to that project and file structure.

Workspace Screenshot.jpg

The work-space consists of the main View-port, with the Shelf above it. To the left would be the Tool Box and View-port Layout section, to the right are the Channel and Layer Boxes. Below all of this, at the bottom, are the Animation Timeline and Playback Controls.

A few of the main hotkeys and navigational shortcuts would be:

Q: Select Tool   W: Move Tool   E: Rotate Tool   R: Scale Tool

View-port Navigation: Space-bar, or Alt/Option plus the Middle Mouse Button.

3D Careers:

Two examples of careers relating to 3D modelling and animation would be;

Animator (3D Computer Animation):

For this job, one would be required to use 3D packages and software to create three-dimensional images, of which when put in a sequence, produce the illusion of motion/movement.

Important skills and relevant traits would include good observational skills, feeling for timing and movement, passion for the industry and field of work, as well as various teamwork and organisational skills.

For animation, the principles are the same regardless of whether or not 3D or 2D is being used. The only different would be the tools and processes used to obtain the end results.

For the most part, the animators will be working closely with the individuals and teams that make up both pre-production and production, referring to various sources and material that has both been provided to and researched by them in order to produce an accurate illusion of movement in a three-dimensional state.

CG Modeller:

The job of a CG Modeller relates to the creation of three-dimensional models for a variety of media, with the software used depending upon various factors and limitations. The individuals working in this field will need to be able to think and visualise in 3D, work in a range of styles, possess the necessary creative and technical modelling skills, as well as various teamwork and organisational skills.

3D/CG Modellers usually work closely with the pre-production team, referring to references and turn-around sheets in order to accurately create their models. Later on in the process riggers, animators and texture artists will attend to the model, providing motion, shaders, materials and textures.


Pinterest. (2017). Tutorials | 3D Topology. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Sep. 2017]. (2014). Why Are Ngons and Triangles so Bad?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Sep. 2017]. (2014). 3d-facial-modeling – Rukout. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Sep. 2017].

Thunder Cloud Studio. (2016). Modeling guide: realistic human head. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Sep. 2017]. (2017). Animator (3D computer animation) – Animation – Creative Skillset. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Oct. 2017]. (2017). CG Modeller – Animation Job Roles – Creative Skillset. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Oct. 2017].