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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.
Now as you start to add color and texture to surfaces, you're first going to want to determine what type of material you want to apply to that surface. Now Maya has a whole bunch of different types of materials. But the main materials fall into five different types. So let me show you these. Here I have five spheres, and each of them has a material applied. Now I can assign materials by going into the Rendering menu, selecting an object here, and going Assign New Material.
Now when I do this, what comes up is a menu, and you'll notice here I have a lot more than five basic materials. I have Anisotropic, Blinn, Hair. You know, which one do I use? And if you go down here, you'll notice you have a lot of ones here that start with M. And anything that starts with mi is a mental ray shader and can only be rendered in mental ray. So you should be aware of that if you're using the Maya Software Renderer. But the basic ones are conveniently held in two places. If you're using the default interface of Maya under the Rendering shelf, you'll find a bunch of ones here.
You'll find one called Anisotropic, Blinn, Lambert, Phong, and Phong E. You'll also find them here under Assign Favorite Material. And again, Blinn, Lambert, Phong, and Phong E, but this particular menu can also be modified. So I like to use the ones that are on the default shelf. So let's go-ahead and render these. And I'll go through each one of these shaders. So I'm just going to go ahead and have them selected. and just do a Render Current Frame.
And if you notice here, the big difference between all of these is the way that it reflects light. So the Anisotropic shader has kind of an off-center or a non-symmetrical highlight, and this is supposed to stimulate metals. So a lot of times if you look at brush metal, the highlights of brush metal aren't necessarily symmetrical. The next one is called Blinn and what Blinn does, it gives a very kind of generalized type of highlight. That's probably the shader that I use the most. The next one is called Lambert, and what a Lambert shader has is no reflection at all, or no specular highlights.
So this is something like, for example, if you wanted to create rubber or cloth or something that's not reflective, you may start with a Lambert. The next one has a very strong kind of light, and that's called the Phong and that's actually more akin to like plasticky type of surfaces, and the one next to it is called Phong E, which is actually related, but it's more for glass type surfaces. Now as you work with each one of these materials, you'll decide which material you want, depending upon what type of surface you want.
So the material itself is really just how light interacts with the surface. It's not anything to do with the color or the texture of the surface. So, for example, I could have a rubber ball, but the color of the ball could be blue or green or could be checkerboard. That doesn't really matter, but just looking at that I would know that it's made of rubber just because of the way light interacts, and the same with, for example, something like plastic. If I had a plastic object, it can be any color or any texture, but I would kind of know it was plastic, just by the way it reflects light.
So let's go ahead and select one of these. I am going to select this second one here, and that actually has what's called a Blinn shader. If I select this and go into the Attribute Editor, you'll notice that there is a node here and usually is the last node is the actual material that's applied to this object. Now each material has its own separate controls. So if I go through this shader for the Blinn, the first one is actually what type of the shader is it? So I could actually change the type of shader here.
So, for example, if I wanted to make it into a Lambert, I could and again it would be more like that rubber ball. So we can change any number of these attributes. We can change the color of it, so I could make it green, or red, or whatever color I want. I can change the Transparency, Ambient Color, which is kind of how much it glows. Incandescence is very similar, but not quite. I can also add stuff like Bump Mapping, Translucence that sort of stuff. And now we come down to what's called Specular Shading. Specular is really important, because that's really defines that highlight, and we really determine what a surface looks like by those highlights.
For example, if this was more of a mottled surface, let's say instead of smooth highlight, we had kind of a mottled one, like we would if we looked at an orange or a piece of fruit, would have something a little bit more mottled, and really those highlights are what tell the eye the quality of the surface. So we can change the eccentricity of that highlight. We can change how it rolls off. We can change the color or the brightness, and we can also change stuff like reflectivity. So if I turn on Raytracing, then this can also be a reflective surface.
Now there are a number of other ones such as options for Raytracing. If this was refractive or reflective, more like glass, that sort of thing. Now each material has its own separate attributes. So, for example, if I select this blue sphere that has a Phong shader, notice that Color, Transparency, Ambient is all the same, but when I get down to the Specular Shading, these parameters are different. So it has something called Cosine Power to determine the size and character of that highlight.
We also have Specular Color and Reflectivity, but this is a little bit different. Now if I select the Anisotropic one, which is this first one, we can change the angle of that highlight. We can also change the spread in X and Y and just kind of change the character of that highlight. So I am not going to go deep into everything here, but really what I want to take away from this is that materials are really what determine the character of the surface. They are kind of like the foundation. So on top of the material, you're going to layer in your color, your texture, bump mapping and so on, but it really all starts with the materials.
So choose your material type wisely.
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