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.


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Pluralsight.com. (2014). Why Are Ngons and Triangles so Bad?. [online] Available at: https://www.pluralsight.com/blog/film-games/ngons-triangles-bad [Accessed 23 Sep. 2017].

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Thunder Cloud Studio. (2016). Modeling guide: realistic human head. [online] Available at: http://www.thundercloud-studio.com/tc-tutorial/modeling-guide-realistic-human-head/ [Accessed 23 Sep. 2017].

Creativeskillset.org. (2017). Animator (3D computer animation) – Animation – Creative Skillset. [online] Available at: http://creativeskillset.org/job_roles/370_animator_3d_computer_animation [Accessed 14 Oct. 2017].

Creativeskillset.org. (2017). CG Modeller – Animation Job Roles – Creative Skillset. [online] Available at: http://creativeskillset.org/job_roles/366_cg_modeller [Accessed 14 Oct. 2017].