r3 - 03 Mar 2009 - 01:14:40 - MattEstelaYou are here: TWiki >  Maya Web > TWikiAdminGroup > MayaMisc > MayaModelling


UVs (Texture co-ordinates)

Sunit Parekh's pelting tools (and tweak tools)

No matter how jaded I am, or how jaded other 3d ops are, seeing a spring-based pelt never fails to make everyone in the room go 'wooooo'.


What I find more impressive though is the tweak tools:


I didn't think such a tool was possible in maya without plugins, Sunit is one clever monkey.

blender for uv's

_This was relevant until maya 2009, when maya got a fairly good realtime pelt/relax/unfold tool. Still, blender is neat. Anyways... _

Blender keeps getting better and better. Don't throw away your maya manuals just yet, but you should definitely take a look at blenders pelting toolkit, called LSCM. The initial pelt is what it is, but the impressive bit is all your edits after this point. You pin selected uvs, then when you translate those the pelt will update around them. Its as if you're uv's are printed on elastic, and you're moving the corners of the elastic about. A good tutorial can be found here:


You'll probably find you'll fight blenders UI more than anything, but keep at it, its worth the effort. If you have some money to spend look at silo 2, it uses the same pelting system as blender, and is a very nice modeller and displacement painter to boot. http://www.nevercenter.com/

Pelting in maya with layout UV

Cheuk Lee has worked out a very similar workflow in maya. I just did a quick test, works quite well, and is fast to do. Unfortunately his site has moved or gone down (used to be at http://cheuk-lee.com/tutorial%20Site/EasyUVTutorial.htm ), here's the steps as I remember them:

  • run an auto-uv to get a bunch of flat uv's
  • select all uv's, split uv edges
  • select the edges where you want the seam to be, then shift-drag over the whole mesh to invert your selection
  • run 'move and sew' to re-attach all your uv's, apart from your seam.
  • now run a layout uv, be amazed. you'll have to play with the settings to not have the process warp your uv's too much.

My addition is once you've done your inital pelt ('layout UV' in maya), normalize UV's so it all sits in 0 to 1 space. Next run a 'map UV border' into a circle. Rotate those border UV's so that the center line is correct, then quickly scale and rotate that to sit as a square. Finally run a 'relax UV's' with border edges pinned, and you should get a good inital UV layout.

poly edges won't smooth or join

Check your normals are uniform (normals->conform). Seems obvious, but a few times I've been caught for hours snapping verts, merging edges, fill hole, delete rebuild, get all the other modellers around my workstation... then realise its just errant normals.

painting blend shapes weights

Maya 7.0 has a very useful feature, allowing you to paint blend shape wights. Set the blend shape weight to 1 and then deform > paint blend shape weights. Its very handy for correcting shapes, adding a smooth dropoff, or extracting only one part of a shape to make others. You can also animate the vertex weighting over time to get a nice non-linear effect with a simple shape. Examples range from a simple curtian closing to facial muscles.

localTools by Henry Korol

very neat melscript! If you've ever struggled with 'move component', or realised the perfect pivot for your next rotation is that vertex there, then look at this script. It more or less emulates the mirai/wings use-secondary-selection-as-pivot, in as neat a way as maya will allow. Watch the video, it'll all make sense.


jwToolBox/Open Maya Toolbox

Very handy collection of melscripts/plugins, started as an upgrade to mjPolyTools, now a rapidly expanding set of open-source cool stuff maintained by Jakob Welner. Things like insert edgeloop while preserving subdiv volume sound very cool...


Zero vertex translations

Apply a move component over all the vertices you want to zero-out the translation of, without moving anything, kill history, done! -- tip by Nicolas Combecave

Image based modelling

The navContext melscript by Chad Dombrova is very handy for this, as well as for roto work. It adds a mouse-mode so that you can zoom and pan on an image plane, which you'll need to focus on fine details.

Another neat mode slides the image plane back and forth along its z axis. This means you can check how accurate your modelling is by slidng the image plane through your object; any errors become very clear this way.

Direct download from highend3d here: http://www.highend3d.com/f/download-2677.html?loc=navContext-v1.0-.mel

Modelling a car in nurbs

Sticking the link here as I'm always losing it...


Smooth proxy in maya 6

Alias have put some love into the smooth proxy workflow, defining some clever hotkeys, tidying up loose ends etc. Normally I'd use wings3d for my poly modelling, but I've barely used it of late. Those new hotkeys are:

  • ctrl-` (next to the 1, above tab): convert object to smooth proxy
  • ` : toggle between cage and smooth proxy
  • shift-` display both the cage and the smooth proxy
  • pageup/pagedown: increase/decrease the subdiv level

Something I wanted was to edit verticies on the cage, have the cage hidden, see the smooth proxy in solid shaded, and have the smooth proxy wireframe hidden, if that all makes sense. Figured out to do this you select the cage shape, hit F9 to get into vertex mode, then you can hit ` to toggle between cage verticies and the unselected, smoothed proxy. You have to have at least one cage vertex selected, or the toggle hotkey won't work. Some pictures would help here, I'll add some at some stage.

Also a little bug I found; the pageup/pagedown hotkeys don't work if the model's current uv set isn't the default map1. Weird.

Finally, its a little disappointing that while its now dead easy to create a smooth proxy, its still awkward to delete them. Lots of hunting through the outliner looking for rogue proxy nodes.

Splitting a edge in two equal edges

To have the split polygon edge tool to snap to the middle of an edge, turn on Snap to Magnets in the tool box, set the Magent Tolerance to 100 and set the Number of Magnets to 1. Increase the number of magnets to have more edge sections to snap to.

-- NicolasdHaussy? - 06 May 2005

Simplifying curves by brute force

There is a script used by paint effects to simplify curves by dropping out odd cvs. (curvature tolerance creates problems when applied to paint effects strokes).

To use you can select your curves and type:

simplifyStrokes 2;

A value of 2 will drop out every other cv. A value of 3 will keep only everythird cv..etc.
-- Duncan Brinsmead, 6 April 2004

Easily converting nurbs to polys

If you set the explicit nurbs tessellation how you want it, then use 'modify>convert>displace to poly' when you have no displacement map on the object, then that will convert it to polys with your render tessellation settings, saving you the trouble of recreating the settings in the 'convert to poly' menu. Tip by L. M. Lloyd


  • A handy script that adds an extra menu for polygon modelling. Adds a more nendo/mirai workflow into maya, covering things like edge loop and ring selection, splitting a selection of edges, and other useful tools. More info and pictures here: http://www.maya3d.dk/scripts/mjpolytools/
  • Inspired by MjPolyTools, OpenMayaToolbox is a brand new open source project featuring promising tools http://omtoolbox.sourceforge.net/

Paint select

One of those things you can easily overlook is 'Edit->paint select'. This works as the title suggests, never has problems with selecting backfaces by mistake, very handy.

Moving poly components along their normals

It can be done! Like a lot of maya's polytools, the functionality is there, but hidden. Select a bunch of faces/edges/verts and run 'edit polygons -> move component'. You get a handle which will let you move components in their local space. Move on the y-handle, and everything shifts about its normal.

Whats more impressive is that this becomes part of the construction history, so you can change it after the fact pretty easily. But this begs the question; why then can't alias expose a 'move normal' option for poly faces from the transform marking menu?

Spiral curve on a nurbs sphere

Clever idea by Janne Olaga:
  1. Create a nurbs sphere, sections 19, spans 24
  2. Run 'curveOnSurface -d 1 -uv 0 0 -uv 24 200 -k 0 -k 1 nurbsSphere1'
  3. Select the curve, run a rebuild with 100 spans, degree 3
  4. Admire your pretty curve that has full construction history. Woo!

Experiment with the '-uv 24 200' section, they control the height and number of revolutions of the spiral.

shift constrain curve creation

  • When creating curves, hold down shift to constrain to vertical/horizontal, ala photoshop.

Polysmooth in maya 5.0 works with UVs correctly

  • I've pointed this out several times now, but it bears repeating. You no longer have to jump through hoops like relaxing uv's before rendering, or duplicating, deleting history, and copying uv's back to your original shape, it all just works. Hooray!

Old style vs new style: polysmooth.gif

  • For those who haven't come across this problem before, maya polysmooths would smooth the polys exponentially, but the UVs would smooth linearly, putting ugly jagged lines all through your textures. There were several ways to get around it, all of which involved way too much effort, so the fact that its fixed now is a Good Thing.

Editing/animating UVs

If your mesh is designed so that you can run a planar project, a handy technique is to duplicate your shape, run a planar project, then run a poly-transfer to push the UVs back onto your original shape. This maintains construction history, and doing seemingly minor things like rotating UVs in the UV panel run much, much faster by rotating the projection node instead.

Furthermore, you can use this as a cheat to animate UVs, something not normally possible in maya. Note that I've not tried this in production, but my tests seemed to work well enough:

  • make a plane, duplicate, move it off to the side
  • apply a lattice to the 1st plane, keyframe lattice points so it's distorted over time
  • apply a planar UV to the 1st plane, but turn 'apply before deformers' off
  • run a poly transfer, and transfer the uv's from 1st plane to the second.
  • if you check out the uv's of the 2nd plane as you step-time, you should see them animate. Here's a finished scene: animatedUV.ma

-- MattEstela? - 31 May 2003

Topic attachments
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
elsema animatedUV.ma manage 49.4 K 10 Mar 2004 - 13:31 MattEstela  
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