Polygon and Sub-D Modeling Workflows in Maya

Learn the robust polygon and sub-d modeling tools available in Maya while working through a creative and practical project. Learn several modeling techniques and an adaptable workflow to modeling in Maya. Software required: Maya 8.5 and up (Maya 2008 required for project files).
Course info
Level
Beginner
Updated
Aug 18, 2008
Duration
5h 43m
Table of contents
Description
Course info
Level
Beginner
Updated
Aug 18, 2008
Duration
5h 43m
Description

Learn the robust polygon and sub-D modeling tools available in Maya while working through a creative and practical project. Learn several modeling techniques and an adaptable workflow to modeling in Maya. Contains nearly five hours of project-based training. Popular highlights include: Using the Split Polygon Tool; Using the Bridge Tool; Using Insert Edge Loop; Selecting Edge Loops; Modeling Wrinkles in Skin; Creating Topology for Eye Sockets; Re-routing Edge Flow; Extruding; Extruding Along Curves; Using Profile Curves; Lofting Geometry; Polygons vs. Subdivision Surfaces; Working with Sub-D Hierarchies; Creasing on Sub-D Surfaces; Using Smooth Preview; Refining Isolated Areas of Meshes; Duplicating Surface Curves; Positioning Teeth Along Curves; Combining Multiple Meshes; Merging Vertices to Connect Meshes; Mirroring Geometry Across an Axis; Filling Holes in Geometry; Adding Reference Images to Viewports; Shaping the Geometry; Duplicating Faces to Re-purpose Geometry; Adding Musculature. Software required: Maya 8.5 and up (Maya 2008 required for project files).

About the author
About the author

Justin thrives as a lead modeling author at Pluralsight. Growing up, Justin found a deep interest for the computer graphics industry after watching movies like Jurassic Park, Toy Story and The Abyss. His ambition would lead him to work at Sony Imageworks in Los Angeles on movies like Monster House and Surf's Up. Justin has also had numerous articles, tutorials and images published in 3D World and 3D Artist.

More from the author
Game Prop Modeling Fundamentals
Beginner
3h 9m
Dec 17, 2019
Retopologizing Game Characters in Maya
Beginner
2h 47m
Mar 14, 2018
More courses by Justin Marshall
Section Introduction Transcripts
Section Introduction Transcripts

Introduction and Project Overview
Hi, and welcome to Polygon and Sub-D Modeling Workflows in Maya, presented by Digital Tutors, an Autodesk authorized publisher. My name's Justin, and I'll be your instructor as we look at some of the tools and techniques for using polygons and subdivision surfaces to build an organic creature. Now, when building models in Maya, there are several types of geometry available to us. Working with polygons is a great starting point, because we can quickly build up our shapes by working in an intuitive way. We'll also explore subdivision surfaces, and how they'll allow us to add smoothness to our model, while still giving us the advantage provided by working in polygons. We'll look at how we can use polygons and sub-ds interchangeably, and we'll throw some NURBS geometry in, just to make things interesting. Let's begin by taking a quick overview of polygons and sub-ds, some of the different ways that we're able to work with those, and also, some of the issues that we'll come across when converting between the different pieces of geometry. So here, you'll probably be familiar with the polygon cube right here. We've got the ability to select faces, edges, vertices, and this is just a straightforward polygon that we'll be using, okay? You have the ability to kind of extrude these faces out. The thing about this is, all of these edges are going to be completely sharp, so if you want to have any sort of curvature, you need to add a lot of resolution. Now, the object next to this is a subdivision surface. And you can see it's fairly similar to the layout of this piece, except it's very, very smooth. And this is basically the same piece of geometry as this, with an algorithm applied to smooth between the different vertices. Okay, so, on this one, if I go ahead and select a vertex, you can see there it is, right on the surface, if I select this subdivision surface, and now, I want to select a vertex, you can see that all these vertices are off of the surface, and they actually match up with the vertices on this cube. If I select edges, you can see this a little bit more clearly, how this subdivision surface is being derived from this low-poly cage, which in this case is the same resolution and the same layout as this cube here. Okay, the difference is that this subdivision surface has some math applied, to be able to smooth this surface between these different points, so that you can see it's very smooth. And so you still have the ability to extrude out faces and make some complex shapes, but now, the subdivision algorithm is smoothing between all of your different points. Okay, we have a couple of different ways of working with subdivision surfaces. Okay, right now, if we go to Surfaces, Subdivision Surfaces, there's a Standard Mode and a Polygon Proxy Mode. If we're in Standard Mode, we can select vertices and move those around, but if we want to do any sort of polygon modeling, extruding, and things like that, we need to go into Polygon Proxy Mode. And so we can either go to Subdivision Surfaces, Polygon Proxy Mode. We can also right-click and say, go to Polygons. And now, we can select the actual polygon faces. So you can see that I've selected this face that's not actually the face on the surface, but the face of the cage surrounding the subdivision surface. Okay, so, now, if I go ahead and extrude that, I can manipulate that cage, and you can see how the subdivision surface updates underneath. Okay, we also have the advantages of, when working with subdivision surfaces, of working with hierarchy, which is kind of refining levels of detail, localizing that detail, and we'll look at that a little bit later. Okay, to make things a little bit more confusing, we can also look at our polygon in a smooth fashion as well. And this is something in Maya 2008 that's new, but we can use something called Smooth Preview. So, if we want to have a smooth model underneath, but we want to continue to work in our polygons and not convert back and forth, and maybe we don't necessarily want to work with our sub-d itself, we can use Smooth Preview, and that's simply activated by hitting the 2 button, okay. That will turn on your cage and your Smooth Preview underneath, and this smooth, you can see, it looks very similar to the subdivision surface. It's basically previewing what this object would look like if you applied a smooth with specific parameters. If I hit 3, that will take off the cage, and you're simply left with your polygon here. And I can go ahead and select these points, and move those around, okay. If I go back and hit 1, that'll take me back to my original polygon. So nothing's being converted. It's just a sort of display thing. If you want to actually convert this to the Smooth Preview that you see, for instance, what we have right here, if we render that, it will actually just render the low-poly version. So if we want to be able to convert this into this smooth version that we see, we would need to go and start doing some conversions. For this instance, we would convert Smooth Mesh Preview to Polygons, and this is what we'd get. You can see the parameters that are applied on the smooth over here, in the inputs. And so these are the specific parameters, and you can see two divisions to achieve that result that we saw, okay. I can simply go back and hit 1, if I undo that, and I've got my polygon cage. Now, I want you to start thinking of subdivision surfaces and polygons as sort of interchangeable. And once you really understand how the smooth is going to be applied, you won't necessarily need to see your subdivision surface the whole time. You will kind of know what that's going to look like when you smooth it. But, for instance, if I want to convert this polygon surface into a subdivision surface, I can simply select that, go to Modify, Convert, and let's go into Polygons to Subdiv. Okay, we can go into the options, and this is going to say how many faces maximum can the mesh have, okay? And then, also, that edges per vertex. We'll leave that at default, go ahead and create. You can see it looks kind of jagged, and that's simply a display issue, so. To smooth the display, we can hit 2 and 3 on your keyboard. Now, this is all going to be maybe a little bit confusing, because of the one, two, three of the Smooth Preview, but just keep in mind that we're now working with a subdivision surface. We can look in here and see, with our display level here, that this is indeed a subdivision surface. Okay, so, now, this is a sub-d. If we go into our Outliner, we can see that these are both subdivision surfaces. All right. And if we want to convert this back into a polygon, we can go up to Convert, and Subdivision to Polygons. Now, if we want to get the same cage that we had originally, we want to make sure and use vertices at a level of zero, okay. So the subdivision surface will have several levels of detail, and we want to go at the lowest level of zero. And we'll convert that, and here we get our polygon cube. Okay. So just keep in mind that you're able to go back and forth, assuming that you haven't added any hierarchical detail, which we haven't looked at yet. But just keep in mind that these are very closely connected, and a lot of times, you'll do a lot of your modeling as a polygon, and then, eventually, maybe convert that to a subdivision surface, or even just use a Smooth Preview, and convert that using smooth to receive your final result. Okay, then, in our Outliner, let's go ahead and turn on Shapes, and take a look at some of these things. Now, if we take a look at this subdivision cube, we can see that we've got our subdivision shape and our proxy shape that we're working with, okay. So if I go ahead and now take this, and let's convert it to a polygon, okay. I've converted it to a polygon. In the viewport, it looks just fine, right. But if we take a look at our node here, and we take a look at the shapes, you can see there are a couple different shape nodes in here, okay, and that's not necessarily what we want. We want to be able to have a single shape node underneath, so we probably want to go ahead and get rid of one of those. So some of those issues that you'll come up with, that's actually the wrong one. Some of those issues that you will come up against are added shape nodes, and also, losing your names on your shape nodes, right. So if I have this as cube, I don't want this sub-d test shape on my shape nodes, so I want to go ahead and rename that to something like cubeShape. Usually the name, and then, uppercase Shape. So, just a couple of things to watch out for when you're converting back and forth. Keep an eye on your shape nodes. Make sure you don't have extra shape nodes. In that case, we had the Polygon Proxy Mode activated, and then we converted, and that left us with a couple different shape nodes. And we had to get rid of one. Also, you may lose the naming of your shape nodes. Which, for you as a modeler, maybe is not that important, but if you start to send your assets down the pipeline, people are going to need things named a certain way, and you just want to have a nice clean model. And so that's a couple of different ways that we can keep those things clean, okay. So, in the end, what I want you to come away with from this lesson is just the fact that these polygons and subdivision surfaces are really related, the subdivision surface being just kind of a smoothed version of your polygon cage. And so you can really go back and forth with your modeling, and eventually, you'll start to see that smooth version underneath without needing to really have that visual feedback. But, to model, you can also use your Smooth Preview. You can also, if you're modeling in sub-d, use your Standard Mode and your Polygon Proxy Mode. The Polygon Proxy Mode will give you the ability to treat it kind of just like a polygon, and you'll be able to see that subdivision surface update underneath it. And so that'll be sort of analogous to using the Smooth Preview mode as well. Okay? So that's just kind of a quick overview of the surfaces themselves that we're going to be using. In the next lesson, let's go ahead and start to set up our image plane so that we have some reference in our scene to be able to start building. Okay, so we'll go ahead and set up our image planes in the next lesson.