that Maya is running, you first need to understand what you are
seeing. There are a lot of items displayed in the Maya user interface.
The best way to begin is to learn the fundamental
tools and then learn additional tools as you need them. Begin by
learning some of the main tools.
The Maya workspace
Maya workspace is where you conduct most of your work within Maya. The
workspace is the central window where your objects and most editor panels
you start Maya for the first time, the workspace displays by default
in a perspective window, or panel. There
are the other components of the default perspective view panel:
panel is labeled persp at the bottom to indicate
that you are viewing the Maya scene from a perspective camera view.
panel has its own menu bar at the top left corner of the panel.
These menus allow you to access tools and functions related to that
- The grid is displayed with two heavy lines
intersecting at the center of the Maya scene. This central location
is called the origin. The origin is the center
of Maya’s 3D world, and with all object’s directional values measured from
In Maya, like many other 3D applications,
the three dimensions are labeled as the X, Y, and Z axes. The origin
is located at X, Y, Z position of 0, 0, 0. The grid also lies along
the X, Z plane. We refer to this as a plane because
you might visualize an imaginary, flat, two-dimensional square laying
along this 3D position.
Maya labels the X, Y, and Z axes with a color
scheme: red for X, green for Y, and blue for Z. Many tools that
you use in Maya use this color scheme to indicate that you are accessing
a particular item that relates to X, Y, and Z in some way.
axis indicator shows in which direction, X, Y, or Z, you are viewing
the Maya scene. The axis indicator is color coded in the red, green,
and blue color scheme and appears in the lower left corner of a
This is extremely useful if you are new to 3D,
as many of the instructions in this manual and the Maya
Help assume you know where you are viewing the scene
in relation to the X, Y, Z axes.
Main Menu bar
Tools and items are accessible from pull
down menus located at the top of the user interface. In Maya, menus
are grouped into menu sets. These menu sets are accessible from
the Main Menu bar.
Main Menu bar appears at the top of the Maya interface directly
below the Maya title bar and displays the chosen menu set. Each
menu set corresponds to a module within Maya: Animation, Polygons, Surfaces, Rendering, and Dynamics.
Modules are a method for grouping related features and tools. Maya® UnlimitedTM has additional
menu sets (For example, Maya® nClothTM).
You switch between menu sets by choosing the appropriate
module from the menu selector on the Status Line (located
directly below the File and Edit menus).
As you switch between menu sets, the right-hand portion of the menus
change, but the left-hand portion remains the same; the left-hand menus
are common menus to all menu sets. The left-hand menus contain File, Edit, Modify, Create, Display,
To select a specific menu set
the Status line, select Animation from
the drop-down menu.
The Main Menu changes to display the menu set
that relates to the Animation module. In particular, menu titles
such as Animate, Deform, Skeleton, Skin,
and so on, appear.
the menu selector, choose Polygons from
the drop-down menu.
The main menu changes to display the menu set
for Polygons. Menu titles such
as Select, Mesh, Edit
Mesh, and so on, appear.
For now, leave the menu set at Polygons.
You will use this set in the next step.
create a primitive 3D object from the Polygons menu
Create > Polygon Primitives > Interactive Creation and
ensure that a check mark does not appear beside this item.
For this lesson, you won’t use this option.
the Main Menu Bar, select
Create > Polygon Primitives > Cube >.
Maya creates a 3D cube primitive object and
places it at the center (origin) of the Maya workspace.
The Status Line, located directly
below the Main Menu bar, contains a variety of items, most of which
are used while modeling or working with objects within Maya. Many
of the Status Line items are represented
by a graphical icon. The icons save space in the Maya interface
and allow for quick access to tools used most often.
In this lesson, you learn about some of the Status
You’ve already learned the first item on the Status
line: the Menu Selector used to select
between menu sets.
The second group of circled icons relate to
the scene and are used to create, open, and save your Maya scenes.
third and fourth group of buttons are used to control how you can
select objects and components of objects. You will learn more about
selection of objects in later lessons.
fifth group of icons are used to control the Snap
Mode for objects and components. You will begin to use
these tools in a later lesson in this chapter.
The last section comprise three buttons that
are used to show or hide editors, including the Attribute
Editor, Channel Box, Layer
Editor, and Tool Settings. The
default display shows the Channel Box and
the Layer Editor. When you create
an object, like the cube for example, information about that object
displays in these editors. You will learn how to use these editors
later in this chapter.
better organization on the Status Line,
all of the icon buttons are broken into groups that you can expand
and collapse, as shown.
The Shelf is
located directly below the Status line.
The Maya Shelf is useful for storing
tools and items that you use frequently or have customized for your
own use. You can keep the tools and items you use most frequently
in a location that provides handy access. Maya has some of the Shelf items
pre-configured for your use.
create an object using a tool from the Shelf
the Shelf, select the Surfaces tab
in order to view the tools located on that shelf.
Create > NURBS Primitives > Interactive Creation to
ensure that a check mark does not appear beside the item.
For this lesson, you won’t use this option
the Shelf, select the NURBS sphere
icon located at the left end by clicking on it.
Maya creates a sphere primitive object and places
it at the center of the Maya workspace in the same position as the
You can determine if this is the correct
tool prior to choosing it by first placing your mouse cursor over
the icon, the name or description of it appears in a popup window
directly over it.
your scene view the wireframe outline of the cube you created earlier
in the lesson has changed color to navy blue, and the sphere is
displayed in a bright green color. The sphere is now the selected object
and the cube is no longer selected. In Maya, when the object displays
like this, we refer to it as being selected or active.
Selection of objects and components is a way
of indicating to Maya that this particular item is to be affected
by the tool or action you will subsequently choose. As you work
with Maya, you will be selecting and deselecting items a lot. You
will learn how to select and deselect objects later in this chapter.
Some numerical information appears in the Channel
Box editor on the right hand side of the user interface.
This information relates to X, Y, and Z, translation, rotation,
and scaling for the active object. The X, Y, and Z Translate numerical
values are currently set to 0. This indicates that the sphere’s
location is at the origin. The Channel Box is
useful for viewing and editing this type of basic information. You
will use the Channel Box later in this chapter.
hide or show the Channel Box
hide the Channel Box, click the Show/Hide
Channel Box icon from the right end of the Status
The Channel Box disappears,
and the perspective scene view expands slightly. With the Channel
Box hidden, you have more working area in your scene
show the Channel Box, click the Show/Hide
Channel Box icon on the Status line.
The Channel Box appears in the