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In Maya 2011 Essential Training, George Maestri demonstrates the tools and feature set in Maya, as well as the skills necessary to model, texture, animate, and render projects with this deep and robust piece of 3D animation software from Autodesk. This course takes an in-depth tour of Maya's interface, including navigating and manipulating objects in 3D and customizing the workspace. The course also covers object creation and modeling basics, shading and texturing, surface mapping techniques, character rigging, and lastly, rendering and final output. Exercise files accompany the course.
Maya has a number of animation features that allow you to do what are called constraints. What they do is constrain the motion of one object to one or more other objects. Let's just go ahead and create a simple cone. And then I'm going to create a larger sphere. So I've got two objects here. So what I can do is I can create what's called a constraint. And constraints are found underneath the Constrain menu.
Now in fact, let me tear this off. We have a number of them. We have a Point constraint, which constrains object's position, Aim constraint which aims objects another, Orientation, Scale, Parenting, so you can actually constrain whether or not an object's in the hierarchy, that sort of stuff. You can also constrain objects to the surface of geometry. So let's take a look at some of the very basic constraints. So you get the idea of how these work. So how a constraint works is you select an object or many objects and then the last object you select is the object that is constrained.
If I go Constrain > Point Constrain what happens is the sphere snaps to the center of that cone. So if I go into my Outliner, you'll notice that the cone and the sphere are separate. So if I select this cone and move it, the sphere actually moves along with the cone. If I select the sphere and move it, it will actually snap back to the cone because it's constrained to that point. So the centers of the objects are constrained together.
So I'm going to go ahead and undo that. I'm going to go ahead and break that constraint. Now another way you can do a constraint is you can do a constraint with what's called an offset. So in other words it doesn't snap. So if I go into my Point constraint, you can see I have an option here called Maintain offset. So if I select both of my objects and make sure that I have Maintain offset on, then I select Add, what happens is that constraint gets added. But now it maintains its offset from the other object.
The object that is constrained, in other words the sphere, has a constraint node attached to it. Now this is our offset, so this is how far away this is from the cone. So I can actually just type in the different numbers. So if I wanted it 11, I can actually move it a little bit closer. But another really cool value here is this one here. That's the amount that it is constrained. So if I change this number to 0, the constraint gets turned off. So I can actually animate that connection on and off just by animating this value from 0 to 1.
So it's a great way to attach or detach things from other objects. So, for example, if a character is picking up a bottle, you can constrain the bottle to the hand when he's picking up and when he sets down, animate that to 0 and he sets it down. Now another really cool thing you can do with constraints is you can constrain to multiple objects. So let's go ahead and delete these. And let's go ahead and just start from scratch here. So I'm going to go ahead and create two objects. Let's go ahead and create two cubes that are identical and a sphere.
And this time, I'm going to go ahead and select both cubes and then the sphere last. So the sphere will be green. And now let's go back to Point constraint. I'm going to turnoff Maintain offset. And now let me make sure when we see this and when I hit Add, watch what happens. This snaps directly in between both of these, because what it is done is it's constrained it to both objects. So as I move each object, it always stays in the middle.
I'm sure you can find a lot of usage for that when you start animating. Great way to keep things centered, for example. So if I select that Sphere again and I go down, you'll see that instead of one value, it has two. So if I animate one to 0, it snaps the other one to that particular object. So I can constrain it to 1, the other both. I can constrain it to 50% one, 25% the other, any combination. And I can do it for more than two objects as well, pretty cool.
So let's go ahead and take another look at some other stuff here. So let's look at the Aim and Orient constraints as well. These are also really important. So I'm actually going to create a cylinder, but actually I'm going to go into my Front viewport to draw it because I wanted to actually go this way. And then I'm just going to create an object that I want this to aim at. So I'm going to go ahead and select my Aim Point, then my Cylinder, and then go Aim.
So for this I really want to determine which axis is the axis along which I want to aim. In this case, I'm pretty sure it's going to be the Z axis. So I'm going to go ahead and make my Aim vector Z, which is the blue axis. I'm going to go ahead and go Add. Now what it does is it points this along its Z axis to this object. Now no matter where I go, that cylinder is aiming at the sphere.
Now you can use this for a number of things. One great way to use it is to use it with cameras or lights. Just to keep them pointed at something. You can also use it in character animation. There's a number of ways you can use this constraint. So this is a great sort of constraint. Now if we go back into the actual constraint itself, you'll see again we've got a weight that we can animate to zero or animate to 1 to turn it on or off.
So those are the two basic types of constraints. Now all the other constraints work pretty much the same. You select the objects that are controlling the constraint and then the constraint object class, and then you select the function. As you can see, constraints can be very handy in animating objects automatically.
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