Maya 2011 Essential Training
Illustration by Maria Reñdon

Understand the basics of materials


Maya 2011 Essential Training

with George Maestri

Video: Understand the basics of materials

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.
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  1. 3m 50s
    1. Welcome
      1m 34s
    2. Using the exercise files
    3. A note on screen resolution
      1m 50s
  2. 1h 0m
    1. Overview of the Maya interface
      7m 42s
    2. Working with files and Maya projects
      2m 27s
    3. Navigating viewports
      5m 56s
    4. Reviewing the Viewport menus
      6m 28s
    5. Configuring safe frames and grids
      3m 21s
    6. Selecting objects
      4m 33s
    7. Using the Move tool
      3m 48s
    8. Rotating and scaling
      4m 31s
    9. Manipulating pivots
      3m 59s
    10. Understanding the Channel Box
      5m 36s
    11. Working with the Attribute Editor
      2m 28s
    12. Using the Hotbox
      2m 59s
    13. Working with marking menus
      3m 6s
    14. Customizing the interface
      3m 36s
  3. 59m 25s
    1. Creating polygonal objects
      6m 28s
    2. Working with polygonal components
      4m 42s
    3. Selecting polygonal components
      5m 44s
    4. Working with Soft Select
      7m 3s
    5. Using the Extrude tool
      6m 47s
    6. Keeping faces together
      2m 42s
    7. Extruding along curves
      3m 27s
    8. Using the Polygon Bevel tool
      4m 14s
    9. Smooth and subdivision surfaces
      7m 6s
    10. Blocking out a character body
      11m 12s
  4. 36m 6s
    1. Working with edge loops
      3m 27s
    2. Inserting and offsetting edge loops
      3m 38s
    3. Symmetrical modeling techniques
      5m 53s
    4. Combining objects
      3m 50s
    5. Using the Polygon Bridge tool
      2m 7s
    6. Connecting components and splitting polygons
      2m 48s
    7. Poking and wedging faces
      2m 49s
    8. Working with polygon booleans
      3m 17s
    9. Modeling with nonlinear deformers
      4m 54s
    10. Modeling with lattices
      3m 23s
  5. 1h 18m
    1. Introducing NURBS modeling
      5m 3s
    2. NURBS primitives
      5m 54s
    3. Using the NURBS curve tools
      5m 7s
    4. Creating Bézier curves
      1m 59s
    5. Creating text
      3m 51s
    6. Manipulating NURBS curves
      4m 13s
    7. Refining NURBS curves
      4m 16s
    8. Offsetting NURBS curves
      2m 31s
    9. Editing NURBS surfaces
      7m 3s
    10. Refining NURBS surfaces
      7m 22s
    11. Using NURBS Revolve
      7m 31s
    12. Using NURBS Loft
      4m 11s
    13. Using NURBS Extrude
      6m 0s
    14. Using NURBS Planar
      4m 47s
    15. Stitching NURBS surfaces
      8m 52s
  6. 35m 53s
    1. Extracting NURBS curves from surfaces
      5m 57s
    2. Creating curves on a surface
      3m 53s
    3. Projecting curves on surfaces
      7m 2s
    4. Trimming NURBS surfaces
      3m 42s
    5. Using the NURBS Fillet tool
      5m 31s
    6. Sculpting NURBS and polygonal surfaces
      5m 52s
    7. Converting NURBS to polygons
      3m 56s
  7. 33m 22s
    1. Working with the Outliner
      4m 58s
    2. Grouping objects
      4m 2s
    3. Creating hierarchies
      4m 17s
    4. Duplicating objects
      4m 51s
    5. Understanding the Hypergraph
      3m 32s
    6. Working with Hypergraph connections
      2m 31s
    7. Hiding and showing objects
      2m 12s
    8. Creating layers
      4m 2s
    9. Working with selection masks
      2m 57s
  8. 40m 18s
    1. Overview of renderers
      3m 24s
    2. Understand the basics of materials
      6m 15s
    3. Creating and applying maps
      5m 13s
    4. Using bitmaps as texture
      2m 59s
    5. Working with the Hypershade window
      5m 12s
    6. Working with mental ray materials
      6m 57s
    7. Using displacement and bump mapping
      3m 14s
    8. Using the Ramp Shader
      2m 36s
    9. Using the 3D Paint tool
      4m 28s
  9. 30m 14s
    1. Texture-mapping NURBS surfaces
      5m 46s
    2. Projecting textures onto surfaces
      4m 0s
    3. Texture-mapping polygonal surfaces
      7m 0s
    4. Applying UV mapping
      8m 11s
    5. Using the UVW Editor
      5m 17s
  10. 41m 16s
    1. Creating joints
      10m 2s
    2. Deforming a mesh using the Skin tool
      5m 2s
    3. Creating IK handles
      6m 48s
    4. Creating blend shapes
      5m 39s
    5. Rigging nonlinear deformers
      2m 36s
    6. Finalizing the character
      4m 45s
    7. Rigging the character to the scooter
      6m 24s
  11. 1h 5m
    1. Working with the Timeline
      4m 16s
    2. Creating and adjusting keys (keyframes)
      5m 4s
    3. Editing keys
      3m 13s
    4. Modifying keys in the Graph Editor
      5m 47s
    5. Modifying keys in the Dope Sheet
      2m 51s
    6. Creating breakdown keys
      2m 28s
    7. Animating objects along paths
      5m 54s
    8. Animation playback using Playblast
      3m 10s
    9. Animating with constraints
      6m 16s
    10. Creating animation cycles
      8m 25s
    11. Using set-driven keys
      6m 13s
    12. Adding sound to animations
      2m 24s
    13. Finishing the animation
      9m 45s
  12. 1h 2m
    1. Lights and lighting types in Maya
      7m 29s
    2. Adding depth-map shadows
      4m 13s
    3. Using Raytrace shadows
      3m 28s
    4. Understanding the basics of cameras
      7m 14s
    5. Adding depth of field
      6m 31s
    6. Adding Bokeh using mental ray
      4m 33s
    7. Using motion blur in Maya Software Renderer
      4m 10s
    8. Using motion blur in mental ray
      3m 5s
    9. Raytracing reflections and refractions
      4m 41s
    10. Interactive rendering with IPR
      3m 33s
    11. Lighting a scene
      8m 29s
    12. Batch rendering
      4m 53s
  13. 25s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course Maya 2011 Essential Training
9h 8m Beginner Jun 01, 2010

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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.

Topics include:
  • Getting familiar with the Maya interface
  • Organizing scenes
  • Creating hierarchies
  • NURBs modeling for solid objects
  • Adding color to models
  • Applying bitmap textures
  • Working with mental ray materials
  • Polygonal modeling for characters and organic objects
  • Deforming with the Skin tool
  • Setting up lights and cameras
  • Creating realistic effects such as depth of field
  • Working with the Timeline
  • Creating animation cycles
  • Batch rendering
  • Rendering with the mental ray engine
3D + Animation
George Maestri

Understand the basics of materials

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.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Maya 2011 Essential Training .

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Q: The Chapter 2 exercise file dog_reference.mb appears blank when opened in Maya. I can't see the dog image. What do I do?
A: Make sure you are working with the most current version of the exercise files for this course from the site. Try downloading the files again. If the image still doesn't appear, make sure the project folder is set to the matching (Chap02) folder in the exercise files.
Also check to make sure you have "hardware texturing" enabled under the viewport's Shading menu.
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