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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.
Probably the easiest way to start modeling with NURB surfaces in Maya is to start with Primitives. This is very similar to what we do with polygons. You start with a Primitive. With NURB surfaces, you could actually start with either Curves or Primitive surfaces. So there really are two basic starting points. But let's go ahead and take a look at some of the NURBS Primitives. Now, we can get to these either through the menu. We can go Create > NURBS Primitives. In fact, I can just tear this off, so we have this ready. Or we also have a shelf here with a lot of the surfaces pretty much preset, and a lot of actually the NURB's operations are all right here as well.
So let's go ahead and start by creating a sphere. Basically, just select sphere and drag on the grid. I will go ahead and shade that. In fact, I'm going to turn off the grid here, so we can just see this. Now, notice how the sphere actually has a line, a darker line down the middle. This is where the patch actually intersects. What a NURB surface is is a four-sided rectangle that's kind of scrunched up at the top to create a sphere.
So we can kind of see how this works. If I go into my Channel Box, and under makeNurbSphere, if I just take my Sweep and I unsweep it, you can see how we can kind of open up this NURBS sphere. And you can see now, basically what it is a shelf that's kind of closed on both ends. So what you have is you don't have a continuous surface like you do with a polygon. You actually have a patch that's kind of scrunched up, and this can actually affect the way that you model.
So just be aware that it's there. Now, some of the other controls we have are Start and End Sweep here. And we also have our Radius, which is the size of it, and we also have the number of Sections, which is the amount of detail that we want in our NURBS surface. Now, one of the things about NURBS surfaces is that they are naturally smooth. So you don't need as much detail to create a smooth surface. Now, I'm going to jump around a little bit here, and let's go ahead and look at the NURBS Cylinder. I'm going to go ahead and just drag that out and create a NURBS Cylinder.
With the NURBS Cylinder, we actually have three separate objects. Again, you cannot connect things like you can in a polygonal object. So if I select the top or the bottom of the sphere, you'll notice that they are actually separate objects. So the caps of this cylinder are actually separate, and you can actually see the names here. We have topCap, bottomCap and the Cylinder. So if I wanted to, I could actually just hit Delete and delete those. And so now what I have is kind of like this hollow cylinder.
And the reason I'm doing this is to, again, show you a little bit about how NURBS surfaces are constructed. If we go into our INPUTS, we can again play with our Sweep and you can see how, again, this is a four-sided patch that's been wrapped around. It's almost like we took a label and wrapped it around a bottle, or took a piece of sheet metal and rolled it around to make a tin can. That's kind of how NURBS surfaces work, and if you remember the sphere, all we have to do to actually create a sphere is to kind of wrap up the top end.
So if I took these Control Vertices and kind of scrunched them up a little bit, we'd start to get what we would have as basically a sphere. So if I start doing this you can see how I can start to approximate a sphere just by binding up those top control vertices, and that's really exactly how a sphere is made using a NURB surface. But again, when it's all said and done, it really is just a patch that's been wrapped around. So I'm going to go back in Object mode and delete this. And let's take a look at one more.
We're going to actually take a look at the Torus. And what you can see with the Torus is that it's basically a NURBS surface that's been wrapped around into a cylinder. So remember that cylinder we have. And then the cylinder has been bent around, almost like a garden hose to match itself up. So again, in this case, we've got one Sweep here. So this is a cylinder that's been swept around. And then we also have a Minor Sweep, which is basically the sweep that creates the cylinder.
So you can see how we have this is the cylinder, and then the cylinder itself is kind of wrapped around. But again, when we look at this, it really is just topologically a four-sided patch. So we've got one, two, three, four corners, four outside edges, and the whole thing is just stitched together very cleverly to make a Torus. Now, with other types of objects, we actually aren't going to be as clever.
So, for example, a NURBS Cube, if I create that, really, all this is is some four-sided patches. So if I go into my cube, you can see it's actually created just four separate patches that represent a cube. So I could actually just move those away from each other, and you can see that it's really just separate objects. Whereas in a polygonal object, these would all be kind of stuck together.
The big point of this is that topology is very important in a NURB Ssurface. You kind of have to think about how would I take a piece of sheet metal and wrap it around to make this particular object? There is really no room for like branching objects, or joints, or that sort of thing. You have to go through some special techniques to make those things happen. And of course, we'll show you those. So those are some of the basic NURBS Primitives. And a lot of times these can be very good starting places for building your own objects.
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