CS22 W19 Loeb

Practice 2: A whole bunch of useful stuff (part 1)

Some of this is review, some may be new. Either way, go through this practice before the next class.

In your Practice Project, Open a New Scene

Create a Cube

Moving around in the viewport means you are moving the camera you are looking through around in world space. It doesn't change the object at all.

  • Alt + LMB drag allows you to tumble around the viewport.
  • Alt + MMB drag to pan side to side or up and down without any tumble.
  • Alt + RMB drag zooms in on the object.

Duplicate the Cube (CTRL + d) and move it over.

  • Tumbling around now (Alt + LMB drag), you will no longer be tumbling around the selected object.
  • To do that, hit the "f" key to frame on it. This also makes the pivot for the camera, the pivot for that object.
  • Same is true if you select a vertex. Go into vertex mode, hit "f" and tumble.

Camera: Center of Interest

You can see what is happening. Go back to Object mode.

Zoom out so you can see both cubes and deselect both.

With nothing selected, the center of the tumble is the Origin (0,0,0)

To see this, Go to the Viewport Menu View>Select Camera to select the perspective camera.

In the channel box, perspShape, scroll to Center of Interest

This shows the distance from the center of interest (or the pivot for the camera tumble).

Select one of the cubes and hit "f".

Look at the Center of Interest for the camera

If you zoom out, the number increases, but the center is still that cube.

You can manually change the pivot of the camera by changing the Center of Interest value in the Channel box. This is good to keep in mind as you work.

*Now another way to change the Center of Interest of the camera, is if you Pan (Alt +MMB drag) wherever you move to, becomes the center of interest.


As you know, by default, there are four cameras whenever you open a scene in Maya. You can see them in the Outliner (although they are grayed out because they are locked)

There is one perspective camera and three orthographic cameras.

In the perspective camera, the red, green, blue, indicator in the lower left of the Viewport tells you your world view. With

  • Positive X to the right,
  • Positive Y up,
  • and Positive Z forward, you are in, basically, front view.

To find the other three viewports, you can hold the spacebar to see all four views and then select an orthographic camera, such as the front view. or use the Marking Menu, hold the space bar, click on Maya, choose the view or make a new one.

You can also click on the icons on the left.

There are other layout options there, too.

CTRL + spacebar is full screen. It is a toggle, so hit it again to get out of it.

The more advanced you become, the more you only use keyboard shortcuts and the Marking Menus.

Poly Primitives

Making new Keyboard Shortcuts

It is a good idea to make keyboard shortcuts for commands you use often (if they aren't already there). I want us to to have simple keyboard shortcuts to create our most common polygon primitives--cube, sphere, plane, cylindar.

Here is how you do that.

  1. In the Main Menu, go to Windows>Settings and Preferences>Hotkey Editor
  2. The Hotkey Editor opens
  3. Choose Menu Items from the Edit Hotkeys For drop down
  4. Choose Create Tab
  5. Go to Polygon Primitives Cube
  6. Type in the keyboard command CTRL + shift + u
  7. Hit Save.
  8. Try it.

Repeat for a sphere - CTRL + shift + o

Repeat for a cylindar - CTRL + shift + i

Repeat for a plane - CTRL + shift + p

Hit Save and Close.

Notice that you are moving across the keyboard from u to p to make it easier to remeber. u (cube) i (cylindar) o (spehere) p (plane)

Now practice to get your muscle memory going. This is, by far, the fastest way to make common poly primitives!


With a poly primitive selected, in the Channel Box, click on the INPUTS node for the object you selected.

You can a few attributes of the shape in a few ways.

For example, for the sphere you can change:

Radius: size of the radius of the sphere Subdivisions Axis: number of subdivisions around the axis Subdivisions Height: number of subdivisions across the height Create UV's: method for creating the UV's in this case, at the pole (more on UV's later in the course)

You can change the value using the virtual slider by clicking on the name of the attribute and MMB dragging left and right in the viewport.

You can change multiple attributes at the same time this way.

Or changing the attribute value directly.

Or use the Options Box


If you hit Create in the Options Box, and close the options box, those values are saved. That means that the next time you use that command, it will have whatever values you just entered into the options box.

To fix this, restore the defaults Edit>Reset settings

And use Apply instead of Create if you don't want the changes to be saved for future uses, although that doesn't always work, so it is a good idea to reset the settings after changing any options if you don't want them to save.

Viewport Display Modes

By default, your objects are shaded (they have a gray lambert applied to their surface). The hotkey for shaded mode is: 5

To move to wireframe mode (without the shader), hit the 4 key

Keyboard shortcuts for Viewport Display

1 key put it in poly mode 2 is poly-proxi mode 3 is subdivision preview mode 4 is wireframe 5 shaded 6 texture view (shows textures on the material) 7 lighting on

There are other cool options in the viewport menus.

Shading>Wireframe on Shaded makes the edges dark blue so you can have both a shaded mode and see the resolution and edgeflow. Super handy!

You can use the Viewpanel icons to speed that up

X-Ray can be handy for seeing through objects. There is a menu item or use the icon

The Show menu in the Veiwport allows you to show and hide various things in your viewport. I often uncheck grid to turn that off in the viewport display.

You can hide objects (CTRL + h) or use isolate select to show only the selected objects or components in a viewport. The keyboard command is COMMAND + 1

I use this all the time to see what I've selected to be sure I haven't selected a face I didn't mean to select.

Moving, Scaling, Rotating

Getting to the move, rotate, and scale tools is pretty straight forward. They can be found by clicking on the icons left in the Maya Workspace or by using hotkeys/keyboard commands.


  • q is select
  • w is move/translate
  • e is rotate
  • r is scale

I want to get into a bit more detail as it is important to be able to use the tools fully.


  1. Start a new scene in your Practice project
  2. Hit CTRL + shift + u to create a cube
  3. Translate the cube in y to .5 to make it sit on the grid
  4. Create a plane by hitting CTRL + shift + p
  5. Hit r to bring up the scale tool
  6. Scale uniformly to make a ground
  7. Hide the grid (if it isn't already hidden
  8. Duplicate the cube (CTRL + d)
  9. Move it back
  10. Of course, the problem is, that just using the move tool doesn't necessarily give control over where the object is, or even if it lands on the ground properly.

Undo until you are back to the first cube

  1. Duplicate the cube (CTRL + d)
  2. Hit w to bring up the move tool
  3. Click on the Green Square and use that to move.
  4. This constrains all the movement along the Y axis but allows you to move in X and Z.
  5. Clicking on the red square constrains you to the current x axis location but allows you to move in Y and Z. Clicking on the blue square constrains the z axis but allows you to move along Y ans X.

The same happens in scale if you use the flat colored squares you contrain the scale.

Trick for moving without using manipulator handle

If you always use the manipulator handle to move around in the viewport, it can be difficult because it means you always need to have the viewport showing the object where the manipulator handle is located.

You can avoid that by clicking on a handle or square and the MMB clicking anywhere in the viewport to move the object around

Clicking on the yellow square and using the MMB to drag around constrains the object to move it along the camera axis.

Aligning Objects

If you have two objects and want to align them, there are some tricky ways to do that.

Select multiple objects.

Go to Modify>Snap Align Objects>Align

The default is for them to align midway between the objects.

The options box for this command offeres other options, Play around with them to get what you want.

Another way to align obects is with the Snap Together Tool

Modify>Snap Together Tool

Choose the face you want to snap to the next face and hit enter

You can move things around more

The face rotates to snap to the point you selected.

If you are in vertex mode, you can also move to snap a vertex to a spot you choose

Using Manipulators in World or Object View

By default, the move tool is aligned to the world axis which can make it hard to get certain translations to be controlled.

Using Object mode helps if you want to move things along their object orientation. Double click on the move tool to open the options. Choose Object and now the tools is oriented with the object.

Rotate and Scale are, by default, set to Object mode.

You will notice in rotate, that in object mode, the manipulator handle moves with the rotation

In world mode, the object rotates, but the manipulator stays in place

If you change a tool orientation, be sure to set it back to the default settings by hitting the Reset Tool button on the options box.

Also note: if you scale in world mode you cannot return the object to it's original shape. Best to keep it in object mode for most of what you will be doing.