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Creating Natural Environments in Maya

with Aaron F. Ross

Video: Welcome

Shows how to create realistic landscapes, atmospheres, and natural light effects in Maya 2011.
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  1. 8m 33s
    1. Welcome
      1m 4s
    2. Setting up the project
      2m 47s
    3. Setting up the Mac
      4m 42s
  2. 46m 40s
    1. Choosing a model type
      2m 33s
    2. Laying out the scene
      6m 42s
    3. Creating a camera
      6m 49s
    4. Adding detail
      2m 7s
    5. Splitting polygons
      4m 3s
    6. Deleting edges and vertices
      1m 52s
    7. Using soft selection
      4m 52s
    8. Sculpting geometry
      5m 28s
    9. Extruding polygons
      4m 18s
    10. Projecting UV coordinates
      4m 28s
    11. Using Mesh Smooth with the Maya software renderer
      3m 28s
  3. 54m 17s
    1. Understanding Artisan and Paint Effects
      1m 38s
    2. Painting on objects
      9m 25s
    3. Customizing 2D Paint Effects brushes
      8m 52s
    4. Saving Paint Effects brushes
      4m 48s
    5. Managing 3D paint textures
      3m 46s
    6. Creating layered maps
      9m 12s
    7. Applying 2D procedural textures
      7m 27s
    8. Applying 3D procedural textures
      5m 26s
    9. Baking textures
      3m 43s
  4. 29m 35s
    1. Understanding backgrounds and matte paintings
      2m 19s
    2. Creating a skydome
      5m 25s
    3. Shading the skydome
      4m 27s
    4. Creating matte paintings
      11m 59s
    5. Constraining backgrounds to the camera
      5m 25s
  5. 46m 9s
    1. Creating 3D fluid containers
      6m 38s
    2. Choosing fluid options
      6m 26s
    3. Adding atmosphere
      5m 15s
    4. Adjusting fluid shading attributes
      8m 1s
    5. Controlling fluid texture
      10m 56s
    6. Animating fluid texture
      8m 53s
  6. 52m 17s
    1. Understanding 3D paint effects
      10m 10s
    2. Working with strokes
      4m 1s
    3. Painting objects
      6m 23s
    4. Customizing brushes
      10m 33s
    5. Customizing tubes
      9m 18s
    6. Animating turbulence
      7m 9s
    7. Controlling polygon output
      4m 43s
  7. 19m 53s
    1. Creating non-physical daylight
      6m 41s
    2. Casting shadows
      5m 54s
    3. Rendering with Maya Software
      7m 18s
  8. 1m 7s
    1. Next steps
      1m 7s

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Creating Natural Environments in Maya
Video duration: 0s 4h 18m Intermediate


In Creating Natural Environments in Maya, author Aaron F. Ross demystifies a common challenge of 3D modeling: fashioning realistic natural environments such as landscapes, atmospheres, and foliage. Starting with flat terrain, Aaron shows how to sculpt various types of geometry and smooth out jagged, polygonal edges. The course also covers creating convincing backgrounds and clouds, populating a scene with foliage using 3D Paint Effects, and incorporating natural light. Exercise files accompany the course.

Recommended prerequisite: Maya 2011 Essential Training

Topics include:
  • Laying out the scene
  • Sculpting terrain with Soft Selection and the Sculpt Geometry tool
  • Creating 2D textures using Artisan and Paint Effects
  • Applying 2D and 3D procedural textures
  • Building backgrounds with skydomes and matte paintings
  • Shaping clouds with Maya Fluids
  • Creating non-physical daylight and casting shadows
  • Rendering with Maya software
3D + Animation


Hi! I am Aaron F. Ross. Welcome to Maya 2011: Creating Natural Environments. In this course, I'll walk you through the basic steps in creating landscapes, atmospheres, and foliage. We'll begin with terrain modeling, including choosing a model type, laying out the scene, and adding detail. We'll get into shading with a look at the 3D Texture tool, as well as Paint Effects, both packaged and customized. Additionally, we'll explore layered maps for more complex and interesting shading networks. We'll create a sky dome and matte paintings for realistic backgrounds.

I'll show you how to create clouds and atmospheres with Maya fluids. You'll see how easy it is to populate the scene with plants and other background geometry using 3D Paint Effects. Finally, we'll look at lighting, casting shadows, and rendering your scene. This software gives you everything you need to create convincing outdoor scenes, and in this course, I hope to get you off to a good start in Maya 2011: Creating Natural Environments.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Creating Natural Environments in Maya .

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Q: When I create a new document and attempt to use the Fly tool, it works as expected. When I try to use the Fly tool with any of the downloaded exercise files, I get the following error message:

// Error: setAttr: A child attribute of 'camera1.rotate' is locked or connected and cannot be modified.

Any ideas?
A: In some of the lessons, the camera is locked. That's by design.

If you want to unlock the camera, go to the Camera panel menu directly above the viewport. Choose View > Select Camera. Now look in the Channel Box. The Translate or Rotate channels may be grayed out. Click-drag the names (not the numbers) to select multiple channels. Then right-click and choose Unlock Selected.

One exception: if you see a channel displaying in blue, that means the camera is constrained to something. For example, the Rotate channels could be aim-constrained to the camera's aim point. You don't need to unlock these and you shouldn't try to change them or keyframe them.





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