Friday, 8 April 2011

Maya- learning new tools

Building on the experience gained working with Maya so far, my latest tutorial required me to model an apple. This was a relatively simple task, but importantly did allow me to learn some useful new tools, and in particular gave me the opportunity to add a texture map to complete the 3D model.

I began this time by adding some simple reference images acquired on Google, and saved in the correct folder. Showing an apple from the side and top (plan and profile views), These enabled me to create a more accurate model by matching their outlines. To add these images, I created two new planes, one horizontal the other vertical, and assigned a new material via a right-click.

It was also useful at this point to select both planes, and create a new layer for them. This enabled me to hide them when they were no longer needed. 

It is important to keep 3D models as simple as possible, and so the apple began as a sphere, positioned in alignment with the reference images. 

Before today, were I to approach this task, I would have used the edge loop tool, and the scale/move tools to edit the vertices to make my apple. Instead, I was introduced to the lattice tool. As the name implies, this tool created a lattice structure around my sphere. I was able to set the amount of divisions to something manageable, giving me more vertices to work with. The benefit to the lattice tool is that by moving the nodes, the shape inside deforms accordingly, creating a far more organic curve. 

As you can see, I used the lattice to deform the sphere to resemble the reference images as closely as possible. Note that the apple needed to be modelled from all angles, and so it was necessary to use a trial and error process, working from all sides, to achieve the correct shape overall.

when it was no longer needed, the lattice structure was deleted by going to ‘edit’, ‘delete by type’, then ‘history’. 

Several final touches were required to finish off the apple model. Using the move and scale tools, I created indents at the top and bottom representing the core. 

Initially, I decided to create the stalk from the same main model (more on this shortly), and so deleted the vertex that formed a point. In its place, I filled the hole under the ‘edit mesh’ tab, and used another new tool- the extrude tool. By selecting this flat face, and going to ‘edit mesh’ and ‘extrude’, a second face was added to be manipulated. I extruded this vertically to create a basic stalk. 

Using the edge loop tool and the other recurring basic tools, I added a curve to the stalk. To finalise the apple shape however, I touched up several areas to make them more rounded. For this I used the ‘soft select’ option, allowing smoother alteration of vertices.

Adding the texture map was rewarding as finally the model looked like a real apple! Just like adding a new material to the reference planes, I added the texture to the apple surface- but also changed its base material to ‘phong’- a shiny material.

Of course, there was an obvious flaw to all this- in my enthusiasm to add the stalk, creating it from the same model meant it was coloured with the red/yellow texture. To colour it separately, I needed to have created the stalk separately. Nevertheless, it was still possible for me to separate the stalk from the apple by selecting its faces, then going to ‘extract’ under the mesh tab. This separated the two elements, enabling me to add a new texture.

Here is my finished apple! I really like the result- and have to say that as I learn more about Maya, the more I like modelling in 3D. I look forward to applying these skills to other tasks in the near future.

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