Join George Maestri for an in-depth discussion in this video Working with object history , part of Maya Essentials 2: Polygonal Modeling Techniques.
In Maya, modeling is basically just a series of operations. You're going to start with a primitive object, and then you're going to do things to it. You may extrude, you may add edges, and Maya keeps track of each one of these. It actually keeps a running history of everything you do to an object. So let's take a look at some really basic operations. I'm going to go ahead and just create a very simple box, so a polygonal box here.
And as you can see, when I create it, it has an input, and this input here is called polyCube2, and this gives me all of the information I need to create this cube. So, if I wanted to, I could add some subdivisions in the height, and so on. And this also shows up in the Attribute Editor. So we have the basic cube, and then we have tabs for everything in that object. Now let's say we wanted to do something to this. Let's say we wanted to do an Extrude.
So I'm going to go ahead and right-click over this and go into Face mode, and let's just go ahead and do an Extrude. We're going to do Edit Mesh > Extrude. And as I extrude this, you'll see that under INPUTS, we get another option here. So, if I go back into Object mode, select my cube, you'll see that I have my basic cube, and then in the Channel Box, I have my polyCube which is what created that cube, and then on top of that, I have a polyExtrudeFace.
In this case, it's polyExtrudeFace11, and we can see that in the Attribute Editor as well. So this is the history, we have a cube, the shape, and then we have the Extrude Face, and that's my Extrude. So, if I wanted to, I can go back and change this if I wanted. Now let's say we added another extrude to this. Let's go ahead and just right-click over Face, and let's go ahead and extrude these two faces here, go Edit Mesh > Extrude, and let's go ahead and just drag out those faces, and then just go back into Object mode.
You'll see that we have another tab here for the second one. So ExtrudeFace11 was the first one, then ExtrudeFace12. So, basically it goes backwards. We have the cube and all the stuff that we used to create the cube, then we have that first extrude, and then we have the second extrude. So, this topmost one is the last thing that we've done. So again, I can go back and change this. So, I have this sense of live history, and you can also see this in the Channel Box here.
Now, if we want, we can also see it in the hypergraph. So if we go into Window > Hypergraph: Connections, you'll see that all of these are interconnected nodes. So, I have my polyCube2--in fact, if we go into our Attribute Editor, you can see it. This is my polyCube2, ExtrudeFace, this is my ExtrudeFace11, this is my ExtrudeFace12, and so on. So I can actually select each one of these in the hypergraph as well.
Now, as you start modeling, you're going to get more and more and more of these nodes, and if you have a really complex object, you could have dozens of nodes on that object. And what happens is that it tends to weigh down the object. Now, if you have a fast computer, you might not notice it, but if you have a lot of objects in you scene, you probably will because what happens is that Maya recalculates the whole modeling operation every time you touch the object.
So, in this case, when I touch the object, it's actually recalculating from the cube to the Extrude and everything else. And so, there are times when we want to simplify this. So once we have our model in place, and we really like it, and it's exactly the way we want, we can get rid of that history. Now, there are times when we want to keep the history in case we want to go back and change something or tweak something, but once we get it to the point where we really like it, we can delete history. So, we have this object here.
So under the Edit menu option, we have Delete by Type > History. We have actually two of these, we have Delete by Type or Delete All by Type. So, if we wanted to delete all the history in the scene, we can go Delete All by Type > History, and that would completely clear out all that history in the scene, or if we just wanted to do it for this particular object, we just do Delete by Type > History. What happens then is all of those tabs go away, and this just becomes a simple shape.
Now, we can do this for the model that we've been working on. So, I'm going to go ahead and delete this object here, and I have hidden our good friend, the fish. So, what did we have here is we basically have a record of everything we've done to this fish, and this is actually quite a bit of stuff. We started with a polyCube, we tweaked it a little bit, we extruded a bunch of faces, then we tweaked those faces. And as you can see, we've got all of this history for this object, and it's actually getting pretty complex.
So, if I go through all of this stuff, you can see, wow! I've got a lot of history. I've done lot stuff to this object. But once it's to the point where you kind of like it, and you can delete the history, so at this point, this might be a good time to delete this history. We can always model from here forward, but if we like what we have here, then we can just go ahead and solidify it, and then move on kind of fresh. Again, we can do Edit > Delete by Type > History, and now this kind of just simplifies it a little bit.
And if we wanted to, we can actually change name of this. We can actually change the name, say, to Fish, give a little bit more descriptive name. So, as you can see, History is important in Maya because it allows you to go back, revise things, and change them. But once you've got your model the way you want, it's often a good idea to delete history to lighten up your model and your scene.
- Creating and modifying polygonal objects
- Editing with reflection
- Smoothing objects
- Keeping faces together
- Using the Polygon Bridge tool
- Selecting and editing edge loops
- Spinning edges
- Working with objects history
- Modeling symmetrically
- Merging vertices
- Combining objects
- Using the Crease tool