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One of the more important concepts to understand when working with Maya is the concept of Edge Loops. Now these are just groups of edges that form concentric loops around your model. And it's really important to organize your geometry in this way to make your model easy to manipulate as well as to form, particularly if you're doing character animation. Now I have a character here, and let's take a look at how his geometry is organized. If you notice here we've got loops of edges, in fact, I am going to go into Edge mode here. I am going to double-click on one of these edges here.
You can see we've got loops of edges that just surround this character. And by selecting just the Edge Loops, I can actually step through parts of the character just by hitting the Left and Right Arrow. So, for example, if I go to his arm here, if I hit the Left and Right Arrow I can just step through this geometry very, very quickly and get from one place to another. Now Maya has a number of tools that allow us to manipulate both edges and Edge Loops, and let's take a look at some of those.
Let me go into Edit Mesh and in fact, I am going to tear off this menu, so we can actually just see everything. First of all, let's take a look at the Slide Edge tool. Now let's say I have this edge of the character selected. If I wanted to I could just move the edge. For example, if I have this edge here, this really isn't quite perpendicular. So if I start moving the edge you are going to see I am going to start reshaping the character. If we use the Slide Edge tool, this allows to actually move the edge along the surface without too much deformation.
So I am going to select this. Now notice how it gives me a little hint. It says Drag with the Middle Mouse Button (MMB) to slide. So all I have to do is Middle Mouse over this, and I can move this edge, and it'll pretty much maintain the shape of the character. So if I had to select this edge and then just hit the Right Arrow to select the whole edge loop. I can go again Slide Edge with my middle mouse button. I am using this for Edge Loops, but you also can just use it for individual edges as well, so I can just slide an individual edge.
And again, it's going to try and stick to that surface. So it is a great way to reorganize geometry without actually reshaping it. Now there are some other nice little tools that Maya has, and one is called the Spin Edge tool. Now this is actually new in Maya 2011, and in fact, let's go ahead and take this character here, and let's go ahead and play with the Spin Edge tool. Right-click over his face here and select this edge on his cheek. Now this particular tool, the Spin Edge tool is actually a tool that is best used with the keyboard.
So all I have to do is hold down Ctrl and Alt, or I believe that would be Option on the Mac, and just do right and left. And what we can do is we can actually spin this geometry to line it up better. So, for example, if maybe this edge coming this way is not right for what you want to do, you can put it there. And now I have a complete set of lines to go from here to here, and this may actually be a better way to reorganize the character's cheek, for example. By using the left and right arrows along with Ctrl and Alt, I can actually spin those edges.
So these are some basic tools for manipulating edges and edge loops within a model. Now go ahead and use these to keep edge loops of your model organized, so that it makes it easy to deform and manipulate.
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