# Know the Basics: Maya Part 3: Modelling

## Previous tutorials

Know the Basics: Maya Part 1: Interface
Know the Basics: Maya Part 2: Viewports and Navigation

Now that we're all up to speed on the interface and the basics of using the view panels, we're now ready to get a project up and running and actually start modelling something. This is where things start to get exciting! In this part of the series we're going to look at the basics of how to model. This will only skim the surface and is assuming no prior knowledge of any modelling package. It'll therefore be perfect for an absolute beginner!

## Step 1: Create a new project

The first step is to create a new project. To do this, simply go to File > Project Window. From there click 'New' and specify all your desired project details along with a folder for your project location. Maya will automatically create the necessary folder structure inside your chosen folder. With your project created you then need to create a new scene. Do this by going to File > New Scene. It automatically saves into the scenes folder.

Create your project and an associated scene to get up and running.

## Step 2: The basics of modelling

There are two main ways to model. The first is using NURBS and the second is polygonal. Ignore the first for now, we're going to focus on the latter. Polygonal modelling means that you're model is going to be made up of a set of polygons, surprisingly enough! Polygons are defined by faces, edges and vertices. A face is the flat side of a solid. An edge is where 2 faces of a solid meet and a vertex is the point at the end of an edge.

In this tutorial we're going to be covering polygonal modelling and leave NURBS modelling for another time!

## Step 3: Starting with a primitive

The beginning of any modelling exercise is usually to create what is known as a primitive. This is a shape such as a cube or a cylinder which provides the starting point for you to create your model. Let's start with a cube by going to Create > Polygon Primitive > Cube. This cube is made up of 6 faces, 12 edges and 8 vertices. If you'd prefer you could create other primitives such as planes, spheres, cylinders and others.

Primitives are a fantastic starting point for creating your model.

## Step 4: Model Attributes

Once we have created a primitive we can go onto adjusting its attributes. This will enable us to further customise the primitive so that it is fit for the purpose of being edited into the model we want to create. You can adjust the primitive's attributes by selecting the object and going to 'Model attributes'. If they are invisible then you can use Ctrl+A to bring them back. Take a look through the attributes and see how amending them adjusts the primitive in your viewport.

## Step 5: Transforming your object

With your object selected you're more than likely going to want to transform it. There are three main transform tools which are move, rotate and scale. Hopefully they are fairly self-explanatory! The easiest way to access these tools is to use the 'Universal Manipulator'. This combines the move, rotate and scale tools into one handy tool. To show the manipulator simply press Ctrl+T. The manipulator gives you handles for all 3 types of transformations and are even colour coded based on what axis they're affecting. Please note that these transformations can also be performed in sub-object mode.

Transform your object using the handy 'Universal Manipulator' tool.

## Step 6: Using the hotbox

The hotbox is brilliant! It contains every action that is available inside of the Maya interface and you can bring it up by holding down the space bar when inside of a view. Note that the hotbox only remains on screen for as long as you hold down the space bar. This is a massive timesaver compared to having to go into the main menus or having to track down actions that may be part of a hidden part of the interface.

Use the hotbox to more quickly and easily access Maya's menus and tools.

## Step 7: Duplicate objects

You'll regularly want to duplicate objects in your scene. You can do this for both single and multiple objects which is really handy. To carry out the action simply press Ctrl+D. The objects will be duplicated in the exact same position. One of the main benefits of duplicating objects is time-saving. If you've created an item for one purpose and then you need another very similar item created. Rather than starting from scratch, simply duplicate the object, make your amends and hey presto you've got your new unique object.

Duplicate objects if you need more than one version of what you've already created.

## Step 8: Modelling Toolkit

When creating your 3D models you'll need to make use of the 'Modelling toolkit'. The button for opening it is in the top right of the interface and it contains loads of tools for customising your model. The first part of the toolkit lets you specify what part of the model you want to select and edit. This contains things like vertices and edges as well as faces. With your selection made you can then pick something like 'Extrude' to pull faces away from their current position.

There is an extensive set of tools in the 'Modelling Toolkit' which let you adjust your model.

## Step 9: Duplicate special

When creating models that have a lot of repetition you'll need to use the 'Duplicate Special' tool to stop you pulling your hair out! This tool which is accessible through the edit menu enables you to specify parameters for how your selected object is duplicated. You can specify the quantity, whether they are copies or instances as well as some other parameters. Note that any instanced duplicates are dependent on each other. That means that if you make a change to one then it'll be reflected throughout.

Use Duplicate Special to speed up your workflow when creating models that are repetitive by nature.

## Step 10: Another way to create

Rather than using primitives as your default starting point you can also use something called the 'Create Polygon' tool. Access it by going to the modelling menu set, select 'Mesh Tools' and then 'Create Polygon'. This will give you a selection of options for defining the polygon such as the number of divisions and details regarding UVs which are for mapping textures to your objects.

Use the 'Create Polygon' tool as an alternative to primitives.

## Top tip: Snapping

A vital part of any modelling workflow is learning how to use snaps. You can snap your selection (think vertex or edge) to either the grid or to points on your model. Use the shortcut key 'X' for snap to grid and 'C' for snap to points.

Snapping will not only speed up your workflow but also increase your accuracy.