Join George Maestri for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding the Measure Tools, part of Maya: Tips, Tricks & Techniques.
- [Instructor] Hi, I'm George Maestri, and today we're going to take a look at Maya's measure tools. Now, these are tools that allow you to, basically, measure things in your scene. They're kind of like little rulers that you can use, and a lot of people don't know about these. So, let's take a look at them. So, we can find these under Create. Measure Tools, we have three. We have a Distance Tool, a Parameter Tool, and an Arc Length Tool. Now, the first one just measures distances, it's basically like a tape measurer, and the other two work with NURB surfaces and curves.
So, let's go ahead and start off with the distance tool, which I think is probably the handiest of the three. If we take that, we can basically just left-click once to lay down a locator, and then we left-click again and we will lay down a second locator, and then, it will tell you the distance between those two. So, if we go into our Outliner, you can see that we have three objects here. We've got locator1, locator2, and the distance object.
So, as I move my locators, you can see how that distance changes. Now, if I were to select this distance dimension and go into the attribute editor, you'll see that we actually have a value here, that we can reference with things such as expressions, and that value, again, will change depending upon the distance between those two locators Now, if we want, we can snap these locators to something like a grid, and when we do that, you can see how we're starting to get values that are actually round.
So, that's exactly 12 grid spaces apart. Now, we can also use this to measure objects. I'm going to go ahead and select all of these, and just delete it. So, I'm going to go ahead and turn off snap-to-grid, and then let's go ahead into Create, Polygon Primitives, Cube, and then I'm just going to drag out kind of a random-dimensioned cube. So, the dimensions really aren't that important, because we're going to measure them. Let's go ahead and use our measuring tools to actually measure this.
I'm going to go ahead and turn on snap to points, so that way, I can snap to the corners of this, and so, when we do Create, Measure Tools, Distance Tools, I can snap to this corner and snap to this corner, and, as you can see, if I rotate around, we get our distance. In this case, it's 9.219, and if I select my cube, we can go into our inputs here and we can see that, yes, it is 9.219. So, now we have actually measured it, and we've proved that the measurement works.
Now, if I want, I could take this locator and move it around to the other side, here, and we can get 11.47, and so on. So, I can literally move this throughout the scene to create measurements. I can also create a measurement by itself and use that throughout the scene, and use it kind of like a ruler. Now, let's take a look at some of the other tools we have under Measure Tools. So, I'm going to go ahead and create a NURB surface. So, we're going to create just a simple NURBS plane, and going to go ahead and drag that out.
Turn off snap, here. Then, under Make NURBS Plane, I'm just going to give it a few subdivisions just so we can see it, and I did that by highlighting these and middle-clicking and dragging. So, now that we have this, let's go ahead and use our Parameter Tool to measure on this surface. Now, the Parameter Tool basically just measures where you are in UV space. So, when I click on this and click it on the surface, you can see that I've got my U space of 4.5, and my V space of 5.6.
But if we were to left-click and drag, you can see I can drag this all over the surface and measure different points on the surface. So, if I go to the bottom corner, there, it's at zero, zero, so that's my start point of this surface. Go diagonally across, we get one and one. Go over, we get zero and one, and anything else, in-between. So, these values will basically tell you where you are on your surface. So, if you need to know very specifically where a certain point on a NURB surface is, you can use this tool.
Now, this is easy to see with a flat surface, such as a plane, but if we delete that and create something else, let's say a torus, we can still use that to measure where we are on this surface, as well. So, if I do Create, Measure Tools, Parameter Tool, again, I can click on this and it will tell me exactly where along this surface I am. Now, the last one just measures arcs, and this can be very handy to measure the length of an arc.
Let's go ahead and just create a simple curve. I'm going to use my CV Curve Tool, and I'm just going to draw a random S-shape curve. So, now we're going to use the arc length tool. Now, I'm going to go ahead and snap to point, here, and let's go ahead into Create, Arc Length Tool, and I'm going to go ahead and snap to this end and snap to this end, and this tells me that I've got a length here of 31.5.
And then, if I want to, I can select my curve, and if I select Control Vertex and do something to make this curve a different length, so I'm going to go ahead and turn off snap here and just move this, you can see how, just by moving this, this length changes. So, again, I can find the length of this curve, and as the curve reshapes itself, it's going to become longer or shorter. And so, as you can see, I can get these values that allow me to know exactly how long that curve is.
That can be very important if you're doing something that needs to be a very specific length. So, as you can see, we've got three measure tools. We've got the Distance Tool, which basically acts as a tape measurer, we have the Parameter Tool, which shows you where you are on a NURB surface, and then we have the Arc Length Tool, which measures the length of a curve.