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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 one of the neatest tools in Maya is called the Sculpt tool. Now, this is actually a suite of tools, the artisan tools. And what they allow you to do is use a brush-based interface to select the objects as well as sculpt the surfaces. Now, we used it a little bit with Paint Select, but you can also use it to do 3D paint onto objects as well, as sculpt surfaces. So let me show you how to use it as a sculpting tool. I am going to start off with a NurbsSphere, and let's shade that.
But for this sphere, I actually want a lot of detail. So I am going to go into my makeNurbSphere input and just ramp up my detail here, so it's around 30 or 40, somewhere in that range. So I really just want a lot of detail here. And now I want to sculpt this. And in order to do that, I go under Mesh > Sculpt Geometry tool. Now when you select this, just make the habit of selecting the Tool options, and let me show you why. Because when you select the tool options, you get this control panel, which is actually very important, because this is all of your controls.
Now notice how when I place my mouse over this surface, this little brush appears. Now, this brush is pressure-sensitive. If you have a tablet, you can use it. I don't have a tablet, so I am just going to use this with the mouse. And all you have to do is left-click and drag, and you can sculpt that surface. How we sculpt the surface depends upon these parameters in this tool here. So we have one here which determines the size and shape of the brush, so how big is the brush? Now, I can change my brush size by just holding down the B, B for brush, and left-clicking and dragging.
So I can just drag that in to make a smaller or larger brush, and notice how that changes here. We also can change the Profile of the brush. Do we want the brush to be softer on the edges, harder on the edges? Do we want a very hard brush? Do we want a square brush? We can also load brushes, which are basically just bitmaps. And then we can also determine what sort of operation. Do you want to Push the mesh in? Do we want to Pull it out? Let's go Pull. So we can actually pull the mesh out. Do we want to Smooth the mesh, which basically means kind of get rid of everything that we did, and put it back to normal? Do we want to Relax the mesh? By relaxing the mesh, what you are doing is you are actually moving the vertices apart.
We can also Pinch the mesh. In other words, pull the vertices together. So notice how this detail is coming together. And we can also use an Erase. And what an erase does, it just puts back to the original geometry before I ever use the tool. Now, another parameter you want to take a look at is called the Reference Vector. Now typically, we want this to work along the normal, so that when I paint like this, it pulls perpendicular to the surface. But we can change it to do whatever we want.
We can move it along any axis. We can move it according to the First normal that we touch, or to the U and V. Now typically for me, I just keep it on Normal, because that's the easiest way to work. And also, we can change our stroke, so that we have reflection. So if I turn on Reflection, what happens is it will reflect around a specific axis. So we can reflect around the origin.
We can reflect around a specific axis, or we can invert that. So if we go around the Z axis, I can actually do symmetrical modeling here. Now this is great for sculpting, but also I find it's a really great tool for tweaking meshes. So if want to just kind of paint in like a crease, or make sure that my character's eyebrows are bulgy enough, I can do that using the Sculpt tool. Now, in addition to all of this, we have our stylus pressure.
And if you have a stylus, you can map that stylus pressure to any one of these parameters. Now, this tool not only works for NURB surfaces. It also works for polygonal surfaces. So I am actually going to go ahead and open a scene here. We have a scene out here called Head, which is a character's head here. And I can select this, and in Polygons, under Mesh, we have what's called the Sculpt Geometry tool, which is essentially the exact same tool, but for polygons.
So I am going to turn off Reflection here. And let's say I wanted to make the character's nose a little bit different shape. I can do that. I am going to go ahead and move my brush down, and then I can just start to pull and push. In fact, this is a little bit big on scale. I can also change how much displacement I have here. So actually I am going to turn that way down, and this is the amount that it actually is pushing and pulling. So we are going to dull that down a little bit, and we are going to give him a little bit more of a W.C. Fields kind of bulbous kind of nose here.
So you can see how you can use this to really just tweak a model very, very, very quickly. And let's say I want to give him a little bit bigger cheeks. I can do that. And again, this is just by brushing, and if I used Reflection, I could do that as well. So as you can see, the Sculpt tools really can come in very, very handy for sculpting both NURBS and polygonal geometry. So go ahead and use the tool and get familiar with it, because it will come in very, very handy as you work with Maya.
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