Know the Basics: Maya Part 2: Viewports and Navigation
In part two of the Know the Basics: Maya 2017 series, Paul Hatton explores the viewports and navigation...
Know the Basics: Maya Part 1: Interface
Now that you have a better understanding of the interface we'll focus now on how to utilise the viewports and navigate around your scenes. As with any piece of software, the learning curve is usually pretty steep to start with. You're trying to get to grips with a new interface, new tools and new ways of thinking. This is understandably a lot to take in. Let me assure you that as you get your head around how the software works, you'll soon become comfortable with it. Let's dive in.
Viewport panel layouts
As you'll know from the first week you can set out your viewports in a variety of different layouts depending on your requirements. By default, on the left hand side of the interface there are a set of pre-defined layouts that you can switch between. To help you move between layouts you can use the spacebar, which will toggle between the current layout and the previous layout. You can also move your spacebar over a panel and press the spacebar to have that take up the full view.
Default camera view
By default the views will be set up with a default camera which will give you a perspective view into your scene. Most of the time the properties of this default camera will be absolutely fine but if you do need to change its properties then that is easily done. Simply head to the 'Outliner' and select the perspective camera followed by the camera icon in the view panel. From here you can adjust its properties for optimal viewing.
Switching between views
When you're working in your scene you'll want to be able to quickly switch between different views. So far we've only mentioned the default perspective view but this type of view won't be ideal for all situations. Other views that you'll make a lot of use of include Front, Left, Orthographic as well as several others. To switch between these views simply hold down the space button and the left mouse button. This should bring up a list of all the views.
Showing and hiding elements
At the top of each view panel there are a set of menus which allow you to adjust the properties of the view. One of these menu items is 'show'. Use this drop down to show or hide any elements in your scene. This is brilliant for reducing any visual clutter and for ensuring you're able to focus on the exact parts of the model that you need to.
Shading and wireframe
In every view you can change how the objects in your view are displayed. These are commonly referred to as visual styles. Two of the main styles are shading and wireframe. Shading basically ensures that all the faces of your objects are shaded and wireframe removes the faces from view and instead only shows you the edges. Shortcut keys for these 4 and 5 respectively.
When you are moving around your scene it is really common to want to be able to focus either on the scene as a whole or on specific objects. Being able to therefore zoom into either of those is therefore absolutely essential. To frame the whole scene you can use the 'a' key or if you want to do that for all of your views simply use 'Shift+A'. To frame a selected object(s) instead simply use the "f" key for that particular view or 'Shift+F' for it to be applied to all views.
Moving around the scene
Now that we've looked at how to work with the view panels we now need to work out how on earth we move around the scene. The three most common ways to move are rotation, tracking and zooming. Let's take each on in turn. You can rotate the camera by holding the Alt key and by clicking and holding the left mouse button. You can track the camera by holding the Alt key and by clicking and holding the middle mouse button. Finally you can zoom the camera by either using the scroll wheel on your mouse or holding the Alt Key and by clicking and holding the right mouse button.
Other than zooming using the shortcuts specified in the previous step you can also make a specific zoom using a rectangle tool. You'll be familiar with this sort of tool if you've used something like Photoshop before. To use this functionality simply press Ctrl+Alt and drag over the area you want to zoom in on. Easy as that!
Create a camera from view
One of the most useful view panel tools that you'll no doubt want to use on a regular basis is the 'Create Camera From View' from the view menu. This is as easy as using the navigation tools to move to the location you want, followed by pressing that aforementioned button. The camera will be created using that exact position. From the view menu you can also lock the camera or cycle through cameras.
Specify a view's camera
Within each view you'll no doubt want to be able to specify which camera is used. You can do this once again through the specific view panel that you're wanting to change. In the panels menu select a camera from the perspective or orthographic submenu. Or alternatively if the camera object is visible in the scene, select it and choose 'Panels' -> 'Look Through Selected'. Job done.
Top tip: The viewcube
A few years ago various 3D modelling packages introduced a viewcube to enhance navigation around a scene. You can move between orthographic views by selecting the different faces of the cube. If the Viewcube is not displayed, click 'Renderer' found next to the Panels tab and select Legacy Default Viewport to display the Viewcube.
For more from Paul Hatton, check out C A Design Services
Download Maya 2017
Check out Maya 2017 on Twitter
Grab a copy of Beginner's Guide to Character Creation in Maya
Know the Basics: Maya Part 1: Interface