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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.
There will be times when starting with a primitive is not enough, and you'll have to be a little bit more customized in how you build the NURBS surfaces. This is where you can start building surfaces out of curves. Here, I have a basic surface. This is actually the rear end of that scooter we've been playing with. And as you can see, we have a surface, but also, if you look a little bit more closely, you'll see that we can actually click on these curves that actually define the surface. So if I can highlight one of these curves, you can actually move that curve around, and you can see how the curve itself defines how that surface is built, Either by scaling, or moving, or even rotating that curve, we can change how the surface is built.
This is just a simple demonstration of how curves are used to build surfaces in Maya. Now, before we actually start building any surfaces, we need to learn how to draw and manipulate curves. So I'm going to go ahead and select all of these and just hit Delete, and let's go ahead into Drawing mode here. Now, we can create curves either through the Curves Shelf or through the Create menu. In fact, I'm going to go ahead and tear this off. There are several ways to draw curves in Maya.
We have what's called the CV Curve, the EP Curve, the Bezier Curve. We also have one called the Pencil Curve, and we also have tools to make arcs as well. Let's go ahead and just start with the basic Curve tools. I'm going to actually jump out here and go into a Top viewport. And let's go ahead and select the CV Curve. Now, what the CV Curve does is it allows you to draw out what's called a NURBS Curve. So let's go ahead and just left-click into this, and notice how we have kind of a box shape.
And then left-click again to create your second vertex. Now, notice how this actually is shaped like the letter U. This is actually our U direction. In the NURBS surface, we actually have two directions: the U direction and the V direction. These are similar to latitude and longitude lines. So for curves, these all just basically have a U direction. So this determines the direction of our curve. And then we can lay down a third point. Now notice how we're just laying down straight lines, and we really don't have our curve yet.
This is because it takes a minimum of four points to define a NURB Curve. So as soon as I click on that fourth point, I get the actual curve. And then once I have this curve, I can just start drawing. And once I am done, all I have to do is hit Enter, and that ends my mode. Now, if I want to edit this curve, I can just right-click over it and go into Control Vertex. Curves themselves have their own components, and the most important ones are Control Vertices, which allow us to reshape the curve.
We also, if we right-click over this, we have what are called Curve Points. And these are very similar to isoparms on a NURB surface. And if we right-click over it again, we can go into Hull, which is, again, very similar to what we have with a NURB Surface. Now, if I take a look at this Hull, you'll notice that it's very similar to a NURB surface in that the Hull itself is always to the outside of the curvature of the surface. So if I was to curve this, if I was to go into a Control Vertex here and move it on the inside and take a look at the Hulls, you'll see that the curvature of the surface always is on the inside of that acute angle of the Hull.
So whatever the smallest angle is, the curve will be on the inside of that. And that can actually be very important for how you define a NURBS surface. So that's probably the most common way to draw a NURBS surface is by using the CV Curve tool. Now, there is another tool, which actually can be very handy as well, and that's called the EP Curve tool. And this also draws a NURB surface. It just draws it a little bit differently. And notice how as soon as I set down my third point, I actually get my curve.
So we don't have that four-point limitation here. Also, notice as I draw, these are all Xs and not the other shapes that we have with the NURB surface. So as soon as I'm done drawing this curve, all I have to do is hit Enter, and now I have a curve. But here is a key feature, is that when I right-click over this, and I go back into Control Vertex, notice how suddenly it's changed. It's become an actual NURBS surface. I have my initial point, I have my U, and I have Control Vertices.
In fact, if I right-click here you can see the Hulls. And so really, the EP Curve tool is just a separate way to draw NURBS Curves. So those are the two basic ways to draw NURBS Curves in Maya.
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