Animated Information Graphics: An Introduction to Maya 3D | Graham Roberts | Skillshare

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Animated Information Graphics: An Introduction to Maya 3D

teacher avatar Graham Roberts, Senior Editor in Graphics at The New York Times

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Getting started with Maya


    • 3.

      An overview of basic modeling techniques and practices


    • 4.

      Modeling a thermos


    • 5.

      An overview of basic animation techniques and practices


    • 6.

      Animating the thermos model


    • 7.

      An overview of basic rendering techniques and practices


    • 8.

      Rendering the thermos


    • 9.

      A look at working with data sets in Maya


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About This Class

This class will get you started on how to model, render, animate, and visualize data using the power of 3-dimensional design, and give a foundational overview of the 3D software package, Autodesk Maya. Graham has been using this software to create a wide variety of information design projects at The New York Times, and will relate these skills to work created in the journalism environment and beyond.

We recommend taking Graham's first Skillshare class, Animated Information Graphics: using data and motion to reveal the story, as well, which takes a broad stroke approach, and teaches through a wide range of examples how to use data and motion to create compelling visual stories.


Meet Your Teacher

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Graham Roberts

Senior Editor in Graphics at The New York Times


Graham Roberts is a Senior Graphics Editor at The New York Times. He creates work for both print and digital editions, as part of the NYT graphics department.

His work has been recognized by the Emmy's, the Society of News Design, Malofiej, the Online News Association, the Webby's, the Cooper Hewitt National Design Awards, the Peabody Awards, the Scripps Howard Awards and the Pulitzer Awards.

He is a graduate of the Digital Media Design program at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a Bachelors Degree in Science and Engineering.

He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

One-on-one consultations available via PopExpert

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Level: Intermediate

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1. Inspiration: Hi. I'm Graham Roberts. I'm a Graphics Editor at the New York Times, where I worked with a team of visual journalists who I'm to shape and deliver information by reporting, writing, designing, drawing and programming information graphics provoked the printed newspaper and our various digital additions. In my other Skillshare class, we take a broad stroke approach towards how to think about and approach creating narrative visual journalism pieces, from defining the focus to executing a storyboard. In this class, I'm going to teach you the fundamentals for using one of the main tools I use to create information graphics, Autodesk Maya. This powerful tool can be used to create impactful imagery for any field, and is especially prominent in the film industry. But this software package can also be used by journalists to create compelling, engaging visual journalism projects. I introduced the software to the New York Times, close to a decade ago and have used it in that time to create a wide range of projects taking various forms, from full-page illustrated information graphics for the printed newspaper, to stepper based interactive responding to breaking news stories, to narrative animated information graphics, to data visualizations. I think it's best to think of Maya and 3D design in general, for that matter, not as a particular aesthetic in and of itself, but as a flexible tool that you can use to create anything along a wide and varied spectrum of visual languages, from photorealism to flat vector art. In this class, I will introduce you to the main aspects of designing in 3D and take you just far enough along that you will be comfortable continuing to learn and explore on your own. Autodesk offers a 30-day trial of Maya software that you can download. I recommend you download and install this trial version before moving onto the next steps. Once you've got it up and running, join me in the following videos and we'll get started learning Maya. 2. Getting started with Maya: The Maya user interface can be a bit intimidating at first but don't let this get you down. Once you begin to spend time with this software, you'll begin to remember where the important things are. Don't worry about knowing all of Maya right away. I found that this software is really about accumulating knowledge and techniques over a long period of time. So, let's start with what we see when the software first opens. The largest panel in the center where we see the 3-dimensional grid plane is called the Viewport. This is basically the canvas or world where you'll do all modeling and manipulation. Note that what you see in this window is always through a virtual camera. We will get to cameras later but it's important to understand this now. By default, Maya creates a camera called Persp for perspective and three orthographic cameras in the scene called top side and front. Go ahead and hit Spacebar once quickly while your mouse is anywhere in the Viewport. Now, we see all four default cameras, three orthographic views and the one perspective view. Again, we're looking through virtual cameras for each of these views, cameras that can be manipulated in the scene. Now with your mouse over one of the Viewports, hit Spacebar quickly, again and then again, try a different viewport. Spacebar is a useful tool for quickly toggling between a single-view and multiple views. Holding the Spacebar down on the other hand, will bring up a floating set of menus. This looks intimidating but don't worry about it. All these menus just about everything in Maya, can be accessed elsewhere. Personally, I rarely use the Spacebar menus but don't let that dissuade you. The next element of the interface I want to bring your attention to is this little menu at the upper left of the interface. It currently most likely says Polygons. Click on this menu to expand it and you'll see it gives you a list. Animation, Polygons, Surfaces, Dynamics, Rendering and Dynamics and Customize. This menu is very important because it changes the mode that Maya is currently in and will affect what options are available to you from the menus. Try selecting different items from this menu and you'll notice that the actual menu bar options change. So, if you're modeling in Polygons are using NURBS modeling, we'll get to this later, you'll want to make sure you have Polygon selected or Surfaces selected respectively. If you're focusing on Rendering your scene, you guessed it, make sure that you have Rendering selected here. To the right of this menu are basic application functions like New File, Open File and Save File. Next, you'll see a little tab toggle, this expands more options within the menu set. We'll keep these closed for now as to not get too bogged down. Further to the right, we see three Select By buttons. These are very important, especially the Select By Component type and Select by Object Type buttons. This changes your ability to select whole objects versus selecting the building blocks within objects. For example, if you're working with a cube and you're in Select by Object Type mode. When you click on the cube, you'll simply select the whole cube. If you're Select by Component mode, you'll have the option of selecting any of the individual faces or a corner point or an edge. For now, just know that toggling between these two selection types is very important in modeling and it will make more sense once we get more into that. To the right of these controls, are toggles for snapping behavior and rendering controls. We will touch on these later on. Moving down one level, we'll reach the shelves. You'll see a number of tabs, General, Curves, Surfaces, Polygons. Basically, each shelf gives you quick access to a number of commonly used commands for each of these elements of the application. For example, in Polygons, you'll see that you can create a cube, sphere, cylinder, et cetera. This small pull down menu to the left of the shelf tab allows you to modify the shelves. For example, loading a new one. Directly below this pull down is the all important tools palette. The basic set of tools are Select, Lasso and Paint Select to give you a variety of ways to select in your scene. At this point, you should start paying attention to the Quick keys. When modelling, I rarely actually click these tools since I'm switching between tools often and quickly. You'll notice by hovering over the Select tool that this can also be set by clicking Q. Below the select tools are the basic manipulation tools, move, rotate and scale. Clicking W, E and R on the keyboard allows you to quickly switch between these tools. Below the Tools menu, we find some quick access panel layouts. This lets you change the type and number of panels in your Viewport. The first is simply the one Viewport of the perspective camera. Below that is the four up panel selection giving you the top, front, side and perspective Viewports all once. Below that is a two up Selection displaying a panel called the Outliner, which simply lists everything in the scene next to the perspective Viewport. Below our panel selections best used for animation and texturing and rendering. We will get into these panels later on. For now, just know that these panels selections are quick and easy changes to the Viewport display. Now, let's direct our attention to the very top right of the interface. Here, you'll see four buttons which open up other panels on the interface. The first is the Modeling Toolkit button, which opens a panel on the right giving a variety of modelling options. This was new as of Maya 2014 and we'll leave this be for now. To the right of this, is the attribute editor. This will open an empty panel for now but when an object is selected in your scene, this panel will give you all the options for what you can do with that object. The next button to the right will show and hide all the options for each tool. For example, for the move tool, it will give you the option between switching between world and object coordinates. Lastly, the next button opens the Channel Box and Layer Editor. The Channel Box gives access to every component of whatever you have selected and allows you to enter changes with numbers. The Layer Editor is made up of three tabs, Display, Render and Animation. We won't go into depth with how these layers work right now but basically display works in the same way you've likely encountered layers before. If you add an object to a new layer, it allows you to turn the visibility of those objects on and off. Unlike how you've used layers before, the order of display layers doesn't matter. It does not dictate one thing being on top of another, since we are dealing with 3D space not a flat canvas. Render layers allows you to add different objects to different render passes. This is useful if you want to render into different layers and composite these layers later in another application like Adobe After Effects. Animation Layers gives you further control on animated objects in your scene by allowing you to layer different animations on top of each other. Now, let's direct our attention to the bottom of the interface. Here, you'll see a timeline usually with numbers one to 24 by default. This is the Animation timeline. This is where you can scrub through in animation and create keyframes for your animations. The box to the right displays what frame you're currently on, and to the right of this are the basic playback controls you're likely familiar with from other applications. The buttons with the red lines let you jump from keyframe to keyframe. The bar below the timeline shows two things, the entire world of the animation and the current view. The gray bar is the current view in relation to the entire animation. The numbers to the left and to the right also display and let you change these ranges. Below, this is the command line. This will either say MEL or Python depending on how your Maya is setup. These are the two programming languages that Maya can accept commands in. If you're comfortable with programming, this will come in handy. To the right of this is the command response field. This is where Maya gives you feedback about what's going on in the scene. For example, if you execute code in the command line, the feedback panel will say if there was any error or it will give you the result of the command. To the right of this is a small button that opens the script editor. The top of the script editor displays everything that Maya is doing in the MEL language. This is worth paying attention to you as it can help you learn how Maya thinks and help you learn how to enter MEL commands. The bottom of the script editor is where you can enter your own code to do more complicated things in Maya. Again, you can use either MEL or Python languages here. So, that concludes the overview of the Maya interface. There are many more panels that we can talk about but I'll touch on those as we go through the other sections. Now that you have a basic understanding of the interface, let's continue in the next video and learn how to model. 3. An overview of basic modeling techniques and practices: Creating virtual spaces in 3D geometry gives us tremendous power in representing our world in ways that we could never do with just photography. We can save lots of time creating a model of a space or an object once in three dimensions and then use that model to explain something from many different angles, instead of having to create a new illustration each time. I found it to be an especially powerful tool in my work in explanatory journalism. One model with some style adjustment could carry me on a breaking news deadline through print and online versions of a graphic. You can think of Maya as having three main areas of focus: modeling, animation, and render. We'll go over the basic things you want to know to get started with each of these major components of 3D work. Structurally, there are two main kinds of modeling in Maya: polygonal and surface or NURBS modeling. We're going to focus mainly on polygonal modeling, as I've found that to have the most used for journalistic applications and it's also best for teaching beginners. But first, I'll explain the difference. The basic structural component of the polygonal model is the face. Here we have a polygonal sphere. As you can see, the sphere is made up of many small polygons we call faces. The more of these faces in the model, the higher resolution or heavier the model is. Often when modelling, you'll want to find a balance between how denser polygonal models are and what will suffice in the final render. By comparison, here is a NURBS sphere. As you can see, this object is not composed of faces, but instead by curves that define the shape. Because of this, NURBS are often used to create more organic shapes. The drawback is that, in many ways, they are harder to edit and manipulate than polygonal models. The basic way to begin modeling anything is by using primitives. By primitives, we mean the most basic 3D shapes: plane, cube, sphere, cylinder, and cone, and also pyramid, torus, and pipe. Let's try creating some primitives. Make sure your program mode menu is in polygons. Go to the Create menu. Hover over Polygon Primitives, and let's choose cylinder. If you'd just click in the viewport, a default cylinder will appear. If you click and drag whoever, you'll see that you first determine the size of the base and then when you click and drag again, how tall it is. You'll notice that you're viewing the cylinder in wireframe mode. There are a number of pull-down menus and buttons at the top of each viewport window. If you click on the filled blue cube, you change to shading mode. If you click on the next cube over, you get shading plus wireframe mode. Now, let's press W to select the Move tool. Now, drag either the blue or the red arrow to move the cylinder away from the center of the grid. Now, back to our Create menu, Polygon Primitives, cylinder. But instead, we will select this little box next to cylinder. Many options in Maya have this box, which brings up the options available for that item before it's created. Here, you'll see in the Tool options that we can enter new options for the cylinder. So, let's make the axis divisions 120 instead of 20, make the height division six, and make the cap division zero. Now, we see we have made a higher resolution cylinder with a division free cap, which can come in handy as we will see later. Now, let's look at moving around in our viewport. First, are you using a two-button or a three-button mouse? The first thing to do is set this in Preferences. Maya, Preferences, and in Interface, choose the type of mouse. For this class, I'm going to assume you're using a three-button mouse, but all the moves you make with the three-button mouse can be made with the two-button mouse as well, just with more key combinations. To rotate around the scene, hold option on the keyboard and use the left-mouse button. To zoom, use your scroll wheel. To track from side to side, press down on the middle mouse button while dragging. Pressing A will frame everything in your scene in the viewport. Think all. Now press Q to get the Select tool and select one of your cylinders. Now press F. This will frame whatever is selected in your viewport. This is important because it also sets the center of focus for your world, and will thus affect how rotating around your scene will work. When we approach modeling any object, I think the best approach is to think of the primitives that that object can be reduced down to. Most buildings are bunches of cubes arranged together. A water glasses is a cylinder. A tea cup is a cylinder with a torus attached. A liquid gel is a cylinder with two half spheres at each end. A classic number two pencil is a low-resolution cylinder with a high-resolution cone at one end and a high-resolution cylinder eraser at the other. Of course, modeling an object to completion will normally require more than arranging primitives in space. But for me, this is how most modeling begins. In object mode, we can select objects and then move, rotate, or scale them. By the way, just hit the Z key to undo any operation. In component mode, which we switched to by clicking this button up top, we have access to the building blocks of the model. In polygonal modeling, this includes faces, edges, and vertices. Switch between the type of component that you want to select with the buttons that appear to the right of the select by buttons. This allows us to manipulate the model into pretty much any configuration that is needed. So, what are some of the things we can do once we are in component mode? One modelling technique that I use constantly is Face Selection in combination with Extrude. Extrude can be found here in the Edit Mesh menu. This essentially creates a new connected face from the existing geometry. So, If I select the top face of our cylinder and choose Extrude, we see that a new manipulator appears. If we move it up, we see that not only has a new face been created, but all of the connecting faces as well. We can scale and rotate this face also. Extrude can be used to create more complicated manifold shapes. Let's select our top face again and choose Extrude. Now, scale this face slightly and instead of moving it out, we move it into the shape. We can then hit Extrude again, scaled down again, and then move the space out. You see how quickly we can create complicated shapes using Extrude? Another top useful tool when polygonal modeling are the Boolean operations. To access these, let's return to object mode and create a cube. Now let's overlap the cube and the cylinder. Booleans let you take advantage of these overlaps to create complicated geometry quickly. The first object you select is the one that will be operated upon, and will be the one left in the scene after the operation. So, if we select the cube and then shift-select the cylinder, we can go up to the Mesh menu and choose Difference. Voila, the cylinder is subtracted from the cube. Now, hit Z to undo until we have both shapes in the scene again. Now, select the cylinder and then shift-select the cube. Go to Mesh, Booleans, Difference, and we see that now the cylinder remains and the cube has been subtracted. Let's undo again until we have our two primitives. This time, select the two in either order, because when we choose the Boolean operation intersection, the result is the overlap of the two shapes as a new shape. So, selection order doesn't matter. Let's undo again and select both objects. Choosing union will create a new object out of the two. This is not simply taking the geometry and making it into one object. It's changing the structure of the two objects and stitching them together. We can see this best in wireframe mode. Notice that the part of the cube that was overlapping the cylinder is now gone and we have new geometry that structurally makes sense. Next, let's take a look at another modelling technique, where we literally paint the deformations we would like to see on our model. This is very useful when creating more organic shapes. First, let's create a polygonal sphere. Create, Polygon Primitives, Sphere, and choose the options box. This will pop open the tool settings on the left, where we can enter custom axis divisions. Let's change axis divisions and height divisions to 120 each. This will give us a nice high-rise sphere. Now, click and drag in the viewport to create the sphere. Now, select your sphere and from the Mesh menu, choose Sculpt Geometry Tool. Now when you hover over your selected sphere, you'll notice a red brush tool that seems to stick to the surface of the sphere. Click and drag on the sphere, and you'll see that I am literally painting deformations into the sphere. By default, the tool is set to push. But in the tool settings, which can be accessed by double-clicking on the tool in the tools menu, if it isn't already open, I can choose pull instead, which will have the expected effect. Choose smooth, and you can see the effect that that has. You can also change the radius of the brush to get your desired effect, or change max displacement to control how far vertices will be pulled or pushed when you paint. Now let's delete the sphere and create a cube. Let's say we wanted to extrude an irregular shape out of the center of the top of the cube. For this, we can use a very useful modeling tool called the Multi-Cut Tool, which can be found in the Mesh Tools menu. This tool lets you create new edges onto your objects. So, maybe I will draw a few new edges to give me the irregular shape I'm after in the center of the face. Hitting Enter writes the new edges onto the model. Now I'll draw a few more edges, and there we have a new polygon in the center of the cube. I can now do things like select the face and extrude it, as we learned earlier. What if we want to cut new edges through our entire model? For this, we can use the Cut Faces Tool from the same menu. This can be useful to quickly create separations across complicated geometry. With this tool chosen, click and drag, and you get a preview of the slice you're about to cut. Holding down shift will constrain this cut to 45-degree angles. Let go, and our new edge appears. Rotate the model around, and you'll see that it cut these edges through the entire model from our point of view. Now select the vertices around the top of the cube and scale them out together, and you can start to see the power of this. As our scenes get more complicated, it's good practice to organize objects into layers that you might want to access together later. To create a new layer with this object in it, we simply select it. Then with our channel box open, go just below the channel box to the Layers window, making sure that the Display tab is active. Then click this button here with the small sphere icon. Double-clicking the layer allows you to change the name. Clicking the V box will toggle the layer's visibility. The box just to the right of that allows you to change to T or template mode, which just gives an unclickable wireframe template onto your scene of your object. Note that with this option on, your object will not render. Clicking this box again gives us an R. In this mode, our object looks normal again, but try and click on it, and you'll see that you can't. In this mode, our object becomes large, but we'll still render. Both of these modes can be useful at times. Clicking the box once again returns us to normal mode. So, there you have a quick introduction to modeling in Maya. I've shown you just one small set of operations you can use to arrive at the geometry you need. But I think even with these few modelling techniques and operations, you'll find that you can model a huge number of things already. We'll do just that in the next video, where I will show you how to model a coffee thermos using what we've just learned. 4. Modeling a thermos: In this class, we're going to model a typical stainless steel coffee thermos. So why this shape? Firstly, it was sitting on my desk but more importantly it's simple enough to not get too bogged down, uses many of the techniques we have just discussed, has some moving parts, and can come apart which will be great when we look at animation. Also has some interesting different surfaces which will be good for our rendering lesson. So, how to begin? Sometimes they'd bring in a photo reference right into Maya, but since I haven't gone over cameras yet which is part of how to do that, we'll keep things simple and model by eye. The first thing to do as I mentioned in the previous video is to break the object down in your mind into the simplest shapes or primitives that the object is made of. Well, I think we can agree that the most prominent shape here is a cylinder. So, let's start by creating a cylinder primitive. But before we add it to our scene, let's double-click the tool to open up the options, increase the resolution of access divisions to 120, and change the cap divisions to zero. This will allow us to easily select the entire cap later, and not have it divided into 120 Pi shapes. Drawing the cylinder, we tried to create something with similar seeming dimensions to the metallic part of our thermos to make things easier later. Now, if you want to adjust it all, grab the scale tool, but be careful to not scale along X or Z individually or your thermos will no longer be perfectly cylindrical. Remember if you make a mistake, just hit Z to go back. Okay, I think this looks about right for the height to top ratio of our thermos. Notice that the main body of the thermos actually tapers to the bottom. Let's change to component mode, click "faces tool" and select the top cap of our cylinder. Using the universal handle on the scale tool we can scale this face a little larger. Let's do the same thing on the bottom cap and make it a little smaller. Now, before we continue, we should save, but before we do that let me emphasize one thing, always create a project directory of your scenes. This will help keep all of your textures, rendered images, scenes, and other data organized and make it much easier to share as well as to move from computer to computer without Maya getting confused about where things are. We go to File, Project Window, hit the new button and we can call this Thermos MAYA. Choose where you want the directory to be and click "Accept". Now, if you check, you'll see that a folder directory with all the folders listed has been created. Now when you save, your scene will automatically save to the scenes folder in this directory. Okay. Back to the model. Remember, we're only adjusting this cylinder right now to match the metal part of the thermos. Once that looks about right, let's continue to create the other parts of the cylinder at the top. With our top face selected, we choose the "Edit Mesh, face extrude" option. While it doesn't look like anything changed, this created a new connected face on top of the existing one, we can scale this down slightly. Hit "G" again to extrude again, move this face up, then hit G again to scale out. We keep doing this set of operations to create the details in the shape of the top. Remember, you can hit "F" to frame what you're doing in view, or Z to go back and undo. We want to model the parts we can see with the top removed as one piece for when we animate later. We can create the inside of the thermos with the same extrude method. For the inside of the thermos, it may be easiest to see what we're doing in wire-frame mode in orthographic side view. Okay. Now this is starting to look like something. Let's use the same technique of face selection and extrusion to create the bottom of the thermos. We select the bottom face of the thermos, scale it out just a little bit and then extrude it down. I can see that I need to follow the taper of the rest of the cylinder so, I'll switch to side view to get this more accurately. I also see that there is a little divot on the bottom. I don't know if we will see this or not but, it's easy enough to create so let's do it. We extrude and scale, and extrude and move, and there we have it pretty cool, a thermos in not too much time. Sometimes I find it helps to turn on wire-frame shading mode to see the structure of our object better as we model. Now, the last element to add to this section of our model is the thread which the top screws onto. Like most things in Maya, there are a number of ways to make this, but to me, this is most like a helix primitive. So let's go to polygons, primitives, and create a helix. We can adjust until we get something that gets us closer to the thread on the thermos. Once we have something close, we can then move this shape into position on the thermos shape and scale to fit. Best to switch the top view at first for this. Once this looks right, I'll duplicate this to create the shape for the other side and rotate it around to fit. Since I want it to be exactly 180 degrees around, I'll enter the number into the channel box to be sure. Since I want this to all be part of the same objects, I will now select my main shape along with the two threads and choose Booleans union to make this one single mesh. Now, we can move on to create the top of the thermos. Let's create another cylinder primitive with the same settings as our original one. This will likely happen by default but make sure it has 120 axis divisions and a zero division cap. Then in top view, let's scale the cylinder to be the same size as the top of our main thermos shape. Once we have this close enough, we can select them both and choose Modify, Snap align objects, Align objects. Now we can scale this down to be the same size of the lower ridge on the cap. Now using Face Selection and Extrude we can create the basic shape as we did before. As I'm creating this geometry, I'm keeping in mind any animation we want to do later. This is a good way to work and we'll save later pain. Next, we need to make a fairly intricate sliding mouthpiece. The most complicated part of the model. We can see that we need to cut an indentation for the slide that has straight edges, but a rounded top that will match the circle of the thermos. We'll then need a similar shape that will act as the slider itself. Let's duplicate our entire top shape and move it up. Then we'll create a cube and size it to slice through the top at the width we want our slider to be then extend it all the way through. Next, selecting both shapes we'll do a Boolean intersection operation on the two shapes. Now, we see we have the makings of the slider with the rounded edges, but we still have extra stuff we don't need. In component Face Selection mode, let's select just this top face then shift select over all of the faces of our intersection object and hit "Delete". There we go, the shape we need, but it's only two-dimensional. With that face selected though we can choose Extrude and turn it into a 3D shape. Let's duplicate the shape and move it down onto our top shape. Then scale it down overall just a smidge to make sure that we don't interfere with our ridge. Next, we select the cap and the slider shape and then do a Boolean subtract. So, now we have the indentation for our slider. Looking again at the cap, I can see that I should see this indentation on the bottom as well. So let's go ahead and delete this bottom inside face which seems extraneous. There we go, now it looks right. It looks like we need a few more holes cut through now. Let's create some polygonal cubes and use Boolean subtract operations to cut these holes into our cap. I know I'll need a similar shape as the slots later as part of my slider, so I'll duplicate these and move these up. Now to create the slider itself, I'll scale it down to a thickness that makes sense and move it into place. Since it's exactly the size of the cut and the cap right now, I'll scale it down slightly so that it makes sense as an object inside. It also needs to clear the drinking hole that we cut in, but we don't want to scale it overall an object mode because that will change the curve of the edges. Instead, in component vertex mode, we'll select the vertices at the curve and move those back until they just clear the drinking hole. Now let's move our slider backup and add to it what we can call the slider feet. We can add a little handle on top of some extrusion as well. Then, let's select our feet and slider and do a Boolean union to make it one shape and move it back into position. Next, we want the slider to move everywhere that the cap moves, but not the reverse. So let's make the slider a child of the cap. To do this, we select the slider, then the cap, and press P. Now you'll see that when we select the cap, everything is selected, but when the select the slider, only the slider is selected. To see this visually, we can open up a window called the hyper graph. Here, we see a graph of all the objects in our scene. With the cap selected, we can hit F to frame that item and view. You can see now that the slider is indeed a child of the cap. If you want you can even rename these notes. Now, we can select our cap and move it down onto our thermos body, and there we have our completed ready to animate thermos model. 5. An overview of basic animation techniques and practices: Adding animation to your model is a powerful way to explain how something works or how something is constructed, and can be the foundation to powerful narrative storytelling. To begin understanding animation in Maya, we'll start with the most basic element of animation, the keyframe. A keyframe describes where an object is in space at point A and where you would like it to be at point B. The software then, with what's called tweening, fills in the in-between. First, set your program mode to animation. Let's create a polygonal cube somewhere on our grid, maybe not in the center. If you go down to our timeline at the bottom and drag along as expected, nothing yet happens in our scene. The timeline is currently set to a range of 24 frames, which is the standard number of frames per second of feature films. Thirty frames per second is a more common rate for online video. So, make sure to keep your final source in mind when deciding how long each action in your animation should take. So, how do we make this cube move? First thing we need to do is tell Maya that the current position is where we want the cube to be on frame one. So, make sure your timeline is at frame one by either dragging the play head back to frame one, or entering the number one in the field at the end of the timeline. Make sure the cube is selected and in the animate menu, choose set key. You could also simply press the S key to save time. Now, if you look in the channel box, you'll notice that translation, rotation, scale, and visibility fields have all turned red. This is how you know that any element of an object has keyframes on it or not. You should also notice that a thin red line has appeared at frame one on your timeline. These will only appear when your keyed object is selected. Let's advance our playhead to frame 24 on the timeline. Now, using the move tool, let's drag the cube to the other side of the grid and, not to get too crazy but let's grab the rotate tool and rotate the cube a bit on the y-axis. Now, press the S key and you'll notice another red line has appeared at frame 24. If you're following along, congratulations. You just created your first animation in Maya. Click and drag along the timeline from 1-24 and you'll see your cube move and rotate along the grid, or press play and you can watch in awe as your cube animates this move over and over again. Take note of some of the buttons in the playback area. The first rewinds to the beginning of the timeline. The next steps frame by frame, and the next lets you jump from keyframe to keyframe and the next plays in reverse. The next four do the same thing in the opposite direction. Now, what if I think my animation is moving too fast, I think the cube should actually take five seconds to move across the grid. At 24 frames per second, that means I need to make my last keyframe occur not at frame 24, but at frame 120. To access frame 120, I need to extend the visible part of my timeline. I can do this by entering the number 120 into the end time field over here. To move the keyframe, shift click and drag on the timeline just around the keyframe and you will highlight the area. Then, using the double arrows, drag the keyframe until the thin line of the keyframe is just over frame 120. Now, play back the animation and we've got a nice leisurely meandering cube. Maybe the cube should make more of an arch in its travels. Let's put our play head back at frame 60, select the cube, then move it up along the y-axis with the move tool. Then click S to create a keyframe. Now, if we drag along, we can see our cube does a nice little leap. The timeline makes it easy to create our keyframes and preview our animation. But it's not the best for visualizing what is happening in the animation. For this, we can use a panel called the graph editor. To bring this up, let's use our panel layout selector and choose the fourth one down with the squiggly graph on it. Now, we have our perspective camera view at the top and our graph editor here at the bottom. Selecting our cube graphs all the key transforms over time. Hitting the A key with the mouse over the graph editor will frame all 120 frames in the view, just as it frames all objects into view in the view ports. In the box on the left with P cube one selected, we see all of the transforms graphed at once. Selecting translate Y here will show just that animation as a bezier curve. In the Y translation, we animated the cube leaving the grid in the middle at frame 60, and we can clearly see that here. Maybe we don't want our cube to jump so high. Let's select the middle point, our keyframe, on the spline and click F to frame the curve in view. Now, this will be easier to edit. Make sure just the middle point is selected. If they all look selected, just draw a box over the middle point. You will know it's selected when the bezier handles appear. Now, drag it down to a value that is less. You can see what value and at what keyframe that value is in the stats fields. Now, drag along in the timeline and you can see the animation we've made in action. Sometimes, it can be useful to add further animation to the animations we've already created. This is where the power of animation layers comes in. We've already used display layers to hide or show objects in our scene, now let's go over to our anime tab and with our cube selected create a new animation layer. Now, we have a base animation layer containing the animations we just created but also a new layer called anime layer one. Notice also that our fields in the channel box have changed to yellow. This indicates that an object has multiple layers of animation on it. Let's make our cube spin in addition to the animation it already has. Let's rewind to frame one and select our new animation layer and press S to create our key frame in this new layer. Then, let's advance the frame 15 and use our rotation tool to rotate our cube a bit. Press S again to create a keyframe there. Scrubbing along the timeline, we can see that this rotation has been added to our existing animation. We can press the mute button in our animation layer to turn this additional animation on and off. With our animation layer back on, let's select the layer again and in our graph editor go to the curves menu, choose post infinity and cycle with offset. This will make our rotation continue additively along the original base animation. Now, playback the animation and we can see the cube spin along the same trajectory. The really powerful thing about the animation layers though is that we can now turn this additional rotation on and off as needed by muting or unmuting the layer. We have seen that we can easily play back our animations inside of Maya. But sometimes, we need to try out our animations in other applications like video editing or post-production environments. Also, even the slowest computer can play back this cube animation but when our geometry gets very complicated, it can struggle to playback animations in real time. For this, we use an important part of animation called the play blast. If you've ever taken a screenshot, then you'll understand what this basically is. A play blast is the animated version of a screenshot and will kick out a quick time of your chosen frame range of whatever your view-port looks like. To make a play blast, right-click on the timeline and choose play blast. Maya will then run through the timeline and then open up the file in quick-time. You can now see what your animation will look like in real time. A big time-saver usually over weighting for an animation to render. If you want to use the animation elsewhere, be sure to save it, as the file currently exists only as a temp file. Another important aspect of animating in Maya is rigging. This means adding an internal structure to a model that allows us to deform the geometry. This is usually done using bones which we draw inside of our geometry. We then bind the geometry to the bones so that when we move or rotate a bone, the geometry moves with it. Maya comes with a little sample gremlin model already rigged but to teach you how we use bones for rigging, I've separated out just the geometry which you can download if you'd like to follow along. To demonstrate the basic concept, we're just going to rig up the major body elements and not get too detailed with each finger. Let's select our four panel layout and hit F to frame the model in each view. Now let's "Spacebar" over the side view to bring that up full screen. In the "Skeleton menu", select the "Joint tool". Then click in the appropriate spots to create a hip joint, a leg joint, a knee, an ankle and a heel. Then use the arrow button to step back to the ankle, create a foot joint and a toe. It's important to create the knee slightly forward of the hip and ankle so that Maya understands which way the leg should bend. Now that we've got the joints lined up from the side, let's change to a front view to align them there. The leg bones are right in the center of the model, so let's move it over to the left leg so the hipbone is in the right place. Since each joint we created is a child of the previous, we can arrow down to each joint to move it into the right spot. Now we can look at how the bones sit in the model in the perspective panel and adjust them as needed. Next, we'll select the leg joint and choose "Skeleton" "Mirror joint", but let's choose the little option box. Here we need to choose to mirror across the YZ plane in our scene. Now, we've got identical bones on the other side for the right leg. Now we'll go over to our front view, frame our model, choose the joint tool again and click on the hip joint, which will allow us to continue creating joints for the rest of the body. Let's click to create a spine joint, a collar joint, a neck joint, a head joint and a top of the head joint. Then we can go back to our side view and make sure these look arranged in the right places, using the down arrow key to move away from the hip. Then back to our front view, we can draw out the left arm by selecting our collar joint then creating a shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand and fingers joint. Since the hand is facing down, we can go to our top view to adjust these joints into position from that perspective. Arrowing back to the shoulder, we can correct that joint then the elbow joint and just as we did in the leg, leave the bone slightly bent so that Maya knows which way the arm should bend, then the rest. Then we can select our shoulder joint and mirror joint as we did with the legs. Now we need to bind our geometry to these bones. We select the gremlin and his shoes and then "Shift click" our bones. Then in the "Skin" menu, we can choose smooth bind. You'll notice that the mesh has now turned purple. This indicates to us that the geometry is affected by whatever object is selected. Now if we select our left leg joint and rotate, we can see that our leg geometry moves as we might expect and similarly, the knee and the ankle. Now, let's select our bones and choose skin go to bind pose. This returns the geometry to its original position. Since this is just the beginning animation overview, I'm going to stop here but if you find you need to rig up a character, there are many good in-depth rigging tutorials you can watch. So far, we have seen some fundamental ways to animate objects in our scene. Be it moving them around the world or deforming them with bones. But what if we want to animate our view of the world? As I explained earlier, every view we look through at our objects in the scene is through a camera. So far we have looked through the persp or default perspective camera and front side top, the default orthogonal or no perspective cameras. For the most part, it's best to leave these cameras alone. For animation purposes, we'll create our own new camera in the scene, which we can manipulate and add keyframes to. In the "Create" menu, we choose "Cameras" and I'm going to select "Camera and Aim". Let's go ahead and scale that up a bit since our gremlin model is pretty large. Camera and aim gives me this camera object plus this aim object which when moved, changes where our camera is looking. I'll move that up to the head and similarly move up my camera so it is pointing a bit down. Now in the view port if I choose panels, perspective, camera one, I'm now looking through my new camera at the gremlin's face. To animate our view, let's go back to our perspective view. Select our new camera, move our playhead to frame one and hit S to create a keyframe. Then let's advance to frame 30, move our camera down and hit S again. Scrubbing on the timeline, we can see our camera moving up and down. Now, let's switch back to perspective camera one and we can see we have animated our view of the 3D space. Try playing around with some of the camera settings as well in the attribute editor. You can create as many cameras as you might need for your animation. So, now you have an overview of some of the most central aspects of creating animations in Maya. In the next lesson, we'll learn how to make a simple animation with our thermos model from the previous video. 6. Animating the thermos model: Now, let's put some of what we've just learned into practice by animating the thermos model we created in the previous video. To begin, let's create a camera that will be our render view for our animation. We'll create a camera with an aim to give us more control over where the camera is looking. If we go to our four panel view, we can change one of the views to the camera, so we can see how things are being framed in our scene. We can then move our camera and aim together, so that the aim is centered on the thermos. We can keep adjusting camera and aim until we have our thermos centered in view. Right now, as we change the size of the window, you can see that the framing of the thermos is somewhat arbitrary. To fix this, we can turn on the resolution gate on the camera. This shows us what will always be in view based on our frame size and an area just outside. Now, before we continue, let's set two things. First, we want to make sure we're working in the video standard of 30 frames per second. So, that when we make an action take 30 frames long, we will know that will result in exactly one second of animation. To do this, we go to Preferences, click on Settings, and in time, we make sure we have NTSC 30 FPS selected. Next, we'll want to set our resolution to a 16:9 ratio, the standard for HD video. Choosing any of the HD presets will accomplish this, and we should see the effect on our resolution gate in our camera view. I think a good animation for this would be to have the thermos top spin off, and then have our camera view change to a top view, where we can see the slider open. Then from this new view, the top will spin and reconnect with the bottom. So, let's switch back to the perspective camera and begin. First, we can select our cap and hit S to key its current position at frame one as the starting position. I think I only wanted to take one second for the top to come up and off. So, let's advance to frame 30 on our timeline, move the top up enough, and rotate it along the y-axis counterclockwise by about 60 degrees, then hit S to key this new position. Scrubbing on my timeline, the motion doesn't feel quite right to me. It feels like it's pulling off of the thermos instead of unscrewing. I think I need to have a faster rotation as it lifts. So, clicking the next keyframe button, so that I'm back at frame 30, I'm going to increase my rotation to 120, and then hit S again to key this change. I still feel like I want there to be a difference in speed between the unscrewing and lifting. So, I'm going to make a new keyframe at the point where the top just leaves the thermos. Then, I may add one more keyframe to adjust the speed of the lift as well. Now, it looks pretty good to me. Next, we want our slider to open. Let's have this happen a second later after this part of the animation, and then take one second to slide. So, advancing to frame 60, let's keep our slider in its start position. Then, at frame 90, we can move it over and key it's end position. Now, scrubbing along our whole animation, we can see the cap lift off, and then our slider move over. Next, I want this to happen in reverse and start reversing one second later again. To do this, we can copy keyframes. First, we know we want the slider to remain where it is for another 30 frames. So, we can simply advanced frame 120, and hit S again to extend that position. Then, putting our playhead back at frame 60, we can right-click and choose Copy, and that frame 150, we right-click and choose Paste. Now, scrubbing along, we can see that the slider opens and closes. Next, let's select the cap and key its current position at frame 150. Then, we can select our other cap keyframes in order and paste them to create the reverse animation. Ending at frame 1AD, makes our animation currently six seconds long. Next, let's animate our camera view. Back in the four panel view, let's make sure we can see what our camera is seeing. I don't want the camera to move until the cap is off, and I also want to make sure that the thermos is framed properly for that moment. So, let's start at iframe 30, and move our camera to create a pleasing start framing. We can move both the camera and the aim to get this right. Remember to key them both individually as well. Next, I want the camera to move to the top view before the slider moves. So, moving the Playhead to frame 60, I can now move the camera into its next position. It may help to switch between object and world coordinates for the move tool when moving the camera around, and I may need to move the aim as well to get the framing right. Let's keep these new positions for both camera and aim and scrub along to see what the camera move looks like. Okay. I think that looks pretty nice. Now, the only thing is when the cap screws back down, the framing looks a bit off to me. So, let's keep the current position until that happens at frame 150. Then at frame 180, adjust and key. I think I only need to move the aim for this adjustment. So, I will just keep that. Now, if we set our animation range to be from frame one to 180, and choose real-time playback, and make sure our camera view is active, we can hit Play and get a sense of the animation we've just created. But, if we want a more accurate preview of our animation, let's create a playblast. Bringing up our camera view full-frame, let's right-click on the timeline and choose Playblast. This will run through our timeline and kick out a quicktime preview of our animation. Now, in quick time, we can preview the results of our work. 7. An overview of basic rendering techniques and practices : In this next lesson we will learn how to render our creations and Maya. Rendering is the process of calculating all of the geometry, materials, lighting and cameras in our scene and distill images or image sequences in the case of animations that can then be shared with the world. Rendering is also the stage wherein we will make many of the aesthetic decisions that make our work look like diagrams or very realistic or cartoonish or like a video game and potentially abstract or not 3D looking at all. These aesthetic choices are especially important in my work within the journalism fields. 3D has this default tendency to say too much. Using different kinds of styles can help convey to the viewer if something is known and understood in high detail or if we mean to communicate more in generalities, something we might use a more line work-based or diagrammatic kind of style to portray. Maya has the power to represent so much and it can sometimes be more challenging to be restrained in our rendering styles in deference to clear communication than anything else. So, let's get started with some rendering basics. The first thing we'll want to understand is shaders. Shaders are the element that tells the rendering engine how to draw the geometry we've created. If we're in wireframe mode, we can press the number five to switch to shading mode. Four returns us to wireframe mode. Like we have seen throughout the class, our sphere is just the default gray, but this gray is actually the result of a default shader that is assigned to our object. Let's see that for ourselves. Let's go to Window, Rendering Editors, Hypershade. This panel is where we can access all of our shaders under the materials tab. Notice that by default there are three items in here. For now we only need to pay attention to Lambert one. Lambert one is the default gray shader that is assigned to all of the geometry that we create. The only difference between this shader and any others we create is that as the default or initial shading group as it is also known, it cannot be deleted. Lambert is one of the main shading groups that is available to us. It is characterized by its simplicity and fast rendering time. Double-clicking on the Lambert one shader opens its options in the attribute editor. Move this color slider and we can see that this is indeed assigned to our sphere as the sphere color changes too. Now, let's click the little clapboard icon at the top of our interface. This is the Render current frame button, and there we have a default gray sphere with some default lighting. Not very exciting but also exciting because you just made your first rendering in Maya. To hammer home the relationship between shaders and rendering, let's do a little experiment. Back in our Hypershade panel, let's click the Lambert button to create a new Lambert. Now, we have a Lambert two. To assign this new shader to our sphere, let's command drag it right onto the sphere. Now, if we click on the sphere, you just see that there is indeed a Lambert two tab open in the attribute editor showing that this is the shader assigned to our object. In our hypershade, let's select Lambert two and delete it. Aha! Our sphere has turned green. Does this mean it assigned a green shader? Not at all. This is Maya's way of telling us that the sphere now has no shader assigned. So, will it render green? Let's hit the render clapboard again and look at the result. Interesting. All black. This is because without shaders the render has no way of understanding how to draw our geometry and so the geometry is ignored entirely. Back in our hypershade, the next most common Shader I tend to use when modeling is the blend shader. Let's create one by clicking the Blend button then we can command Drag this onto our sphere to assign it. In shading mode, you'll notice right away a different look. The blend makes our sphere look a bit shinier. Double-clicking the Blend brings up some options in the attribute editor. You'll notice that the blend has the same common attributes as the Lambert. But it also has specular shading options. This allows us to adjust the eccentricity of the light hitting our sphere which controls the sharpness of our highlight. Specular roll-off which controls the intensity of the highlight, specular color to change the color of our highlight and the ability to add a variable level of reflectivity as well. Lambert and blend shaders can take you a long way. But there are a slew of other shader types, and I encourage you to play around with these and see what different looks you can get. I think people often get confused between shaders and textures, so let me clarify. Shaders describe to the render how your object should handle light. Textures add imagery on top of these instructions. They can be the look of wood or a picture. Clicking the checker box next to the color field in your blend for instance will bring up a window with a variety of texture options to add to your shader. Lets choose the checker. But we don't see the checkerboard on our sphere that's because we need to up our viewing mode to include textures. To do this press the six key. The checkers are applied to the sphere in a default way at the moment but we have complete control over this. Since we are working on a polygonal model, let's make sure our program mode is set to polygons and with our sphere selected we can choose Create UVs, Spherical Mapping." UVs are a separate coordinate system from XYZ used to describe how textures are mapped onto your geometry. Notice that we now have a set of handles on the sphere that we can use to manipulate how the texture is being mapped. We can also see how our texture relates to our geometry and a panel called the UV Texture Editor in the Edit UVs menu. Here we see our geometry unwrapped and we see how the image is being projected. We can also manipulate the geometry here to get our mapping right. Just as we press the six key to show our textures on our models pressing the seventh key tells our viewport to display the lighting in our scene interactively. You'll notice that when we press the seventh key our sphere just turns black. This is because there are no lights yet in our scene. But wait when we rendered we definitely saw lighting and could clearly see our object. This is because when there are no lights in the scene, Maya will create one by default that moves with our camera view. Let's turn this off so we can be sure that this is what is happening. Let's click this clapboard over here to bring up Render Settings. Scroll all the way down and in the Render Options menu let's uncheck Enable default light. Now, when we render, all black as expected. But if we click the alpha matte button, we can see that the sphere is in fact being rendered in the scene. To add our own lights the scene we go to the Create menu choose "Lights" and here we have a number of options, Ambient, Directional, Point, Spot, Area and Volume. Let's just create a simple directional light for now. Pressing seven and rotating our light around, we can see the light changing on our object. With directional lights, it doesn't matter where the light is in the scene. Only which direction it's pointing. Now, when we render, we can see that our sphere is visible again. Now, let's create a polygonal plane and set the sphere on the plane and render. Not a great result. This is because we don't have retracing enabled in our Render settings. This allows the light rays to be traced and the shadow to be drawn. Opening Render settings allows us to turn this option on. Now, when we render, shadow. Let's delete this directional light and try a spotlight. Setting this to point at our sphere, when we render we get lighting on the plane in just the region that the spot is illuminating, and we're seeing a lot of hard edges. Let's select our spotlight and in Attribute Editor changed some of the shadow settings. We can change the Light Radius to one and up our Shadow Rays to three. Now when we render, we get a nice, soft shadow with the sphere, but the edge being illuminated on the plane is still very sharp. To change this we need to add some penumbra angle to our spot. Let's just up that a little bit and now when we render, nice, soft edge. So far, we've been rendering with the default Maya rendering engine, which is the software renderer. But there are other renders available that allow us to get different kinds of looks. Before we go over that, let's make sure we have Mental Ray set to be available to us. For that, we need to open the Plugins Manager. We go to Window, Settings/ Preferences, Plug-in Manager. Scroll down and make sure to turn on Maya to MR bundle. This will make Mental Ray available to us in Render settings. Now, if we choose Mental Ray in Render again, we'll see that not much has changed. But Mental Ray is a much more powerful rendering engine than the Maya software engine. Let me show you by example what we can do. Let's achieve a somewhat realistic look by using the light levels in our scene to do all the work using Mental Ray to describe our objects. Let's delete the spotlight and then select our perspective camera by choosing View, Select Camera. Now in the Attribute Editor, let's change our environment to white. We're going to use this white of the environment as our lighting. Now, in Render Settings make sure Mental Ray is selected and go over to the Indirect Lighting tab and let's turn on Final Gathering. Final Gathering bounces light rays around, stores the position and color of where it hits objects, and then interpolates these points to create lit surfaces. Now when we render, we can see that we get a very realistic type of darkening where the sphere's close to the plane. Using Mental Ray with Final Gathering, together with some lighting can make for a great look. Another rendering option we have is the Vector Render. This allows us to render outlooks that are more line work, field-based, and can even kick out EPS or Illustrator files, converting our 3D scene into 2D linework that can be edited later. This render, I find, is especially handy in creating diagrammatic work in journalistic environments. If we render our scene now, we see no sphere because the vector render is set up to only render one flat color. Let's add some landmark to the mix by selecting Include edges. Now when we render our sphere is black. If we change outlines to entire mesh, we get linework of all of our geometry. If we want to export actual vector information from this render, we need to go to the Common settings tab, choose Illustrator for image format, give our file name, and then instead of rendering as we have, make sure the program is in rendering mode, go to our rendering menu and choose Batch Render. Now, if we open up this file, we see that we have real vector line work out of our 3D scene. You can imagine how powerful this can be as a workflow. For diagrammatic work, I'll open combine a regular shaded render from Maya, with an overlay of vector line work in order to have a lot of control over the final look. You'll also use the Batch Render whenever you want to render out image sequences for animations. After entering the frame range over which to render, choosing file formats, resolution and which camera to render from in Render Settings, running the batch render will render out all the frames you need. So, we've seen display layers, we've seen animation layers, now let's talk about render layers. Opening the Render Layer's tab, we see that by default, we have a Master Layer containing everything in our scene. The real power of render layers is being able to render the objects and are seen in different passes, usually combined later in a compositing application like after effects. This has nothing to do with depth in our scene, but of course, each layer we set up in Maya will appear in front of or behind other layers based on the order we composite them. To add an object to a new render layer, we select it, and just as in-display layers, click this New Layer button with the sphere on it. We can then name it by double-clicking. You'll notice now that when that layer is selected, only the objects in the layer appear in our viewport, a difference from display layers. We turn render layers on and off by clicking this first button in the set to the left of the layer name. A green check means it will render, an X means it will not. Notice by default, once we create a new render layer, the Master Layer is turned off. One use of render layers I use all the time with journalism projects is for highlighting different parts of my scene, like highlighting and drawing attention to particular parts of a diagram. Let's say we wanted to use our sphere layer as a highlight. We can assign a red shader to our sphere in its new layer. We can create a new surface shader which is a flat shader node. Choose red for the color and assign this to our sphere in the sphere one render layer. Notice that when we click back to the Master Layer, the red is gone, but it remains when we switch back to the Sphere Render Layer. These layers allow you to assign new shaders and lighting to the same objects, a powerful option. Now, if we make the Master Layer renderable again by clicking the X to a green check mark, if we were to render out an animation of this scene, we would have one set of images of the scene as we built it, and also this red sphere highlight that would move with everything else in our scene, be it the sphere itself or the camera. Then in after effects, we could fade this layer in and out whenever we needed to highlight that particular sphere. So, now that we've learned some of the fundamentals of rendering, let's go ahead in the next video and render our thermos. 8. Rendering the thermos: Now let's put this all together and learn how to render our thermos. By default, our thermos will indeed render because it has the default Lambert shader on it. Let's just click render to see what we have so far. Not a great look, just a flat looking gray thermos on black using the Maya software renderer. We're going to be using the superior mental ray rendering engine for this lesson. So let's switch over to that and render again. Looks pretty much the same, right now as we learned we are seeing light even though there is no light in the scene, because the default light is turned on. Let's open our rendering preferences and turn that off. Now when we re-render, all black is might be expected, with this thermos we're going to use final gather and ambient occlusion lighting to get a realistic look. So let's turn these two things on in our mental ray render settings, and render again. Still black. This is because the black of our world is casting no light. Let's change our camera environment to white in our camera settings in the attribute editor. Now, when we re-render we can see our thermos again, even though there are no lights in the scene. The ambient light value from the White environment, is serving to cast light value onto our object. Next we need to assign some shaders, we can see that we basically have two materials on this object, a black plastic and stainless steel. Let's start by assigning our black plastic. First, let's create a blinn shader. I'm choosing blinn because that will give us the control we need over the way light hits this plastic. In the hyper shade I'll press the blinn button and then double click the blinn material to open it in the attribute editor. I'll also rename this blinn as black plastic and change the color to mostly black. Now let's assign this shader to the appropriate parts of our model. We know that the entire cup should be black plastic. So let's select that. Then right click our black plastic shader and choose assign material to selection. Assigning the shaders to the main body of the thermos will be slightly more complicated because we modeled it as a single piece, but it has multiple materials that need to be associated with it. So we can't just click and select it and assign the material. Instead we need to enter component mode and select adjust those faces that need to have the black plastic shader applied. Let's make sure we're in face selection mode and then go into our side view and select these faces. First, we want the bottom of the cup including the very small lip. The easiest way to do this is to select more and then control select to deselect what we don't want. Now in the hyper shade, we assign the shader just as we did before. Now we need to select the rest that we want to assign black plastic to. In this case, I would select these faces here at the top like this, giving us most of the inside too, then, shift select the bottom inside and control select the outside to remove it from the selection and then we assign our shader. Okay pretty good, starting to look like something. Now let's create a shader for our stainless steel. It can get pretty involved to make a perfect looking stainless steel and there are some good tutorials out there for this, but since this is a beginner class we're going to keep it simple and create an honest tropic shader for this purpose. This will give us that line like highlight that stainless steel has. So let's click to create one of these and call it stainless steel. To select the right faces, lets again use an inverse selection. First, we select the top of the thermos and then shift select to get the faces we want. Then we can assign the shader to these faces as we did before. Now let's render and see what it's looking like. Still pretty flat and none of the highlights on the style that we want. The problem is that we need to add some lights into our scene. Looking at my thermos, it looks like I have a few highlights on it. So let's add two point lights into our scene and in the attribute editor, set the intensity to 0.5. Now when we render this is starting to look right. But there needs to be more light at the top, so I'll create a directional light to give this an overall light. Again this can be positioned anywhere, the only thing that matters is the direction. I'll set it to be coming from somewhat behind in this camera view, and also the intensity down to 0.4. We can scrub along in our animation to check that our lighting looks okay from different angles. Now that our lighting looks good, we're ready to render out our animation. In the render settings, we enter a filename, choose an image format usually JPEG or PNG, and then we need to choose a non single frame option so that Maya will know to render the animation and the range of frames to render. In this case, 1 to 180, then the camera that we want to render from and our resolution. To initiate the render, we choose batch render from the render menu, to monitor the progress we can check the script editor or watch the display at the bottom of the screen. Maya will kick out the set of frames but will not compile them into a movie. For this I usually use a program like After Effects. 9. A look at working with data sets in Maya: More of the power of Maya can be unleashed through code. Whether you're entering short instructions in the command line, attaching expressions to objects in the expression editor, or running full programs in the script editor, gaining some knowledge on how to add objects to, and manipulate objects in your scene in this way can add a lot of possibilities. The scripting console has two main sections. At the bottom, we have the work area where we can enter programs and commands that we want to run. Notice that there is both a MEL and a Python tab. These are the two programming languages that Maya understands. MEL, which stands for Maya Embedded Language, is as the name suggests, the native programming language to Maya. At the top of the scripting console, we have the history. You likely already have history displayed. That's because every action taken in Maya is also displayed in MEL language in this console. This can be very helpful in learning how to use MEL to control Maya. For instance, let's draw a sphere into our scene. In the console, we can see that Maya printed a polySphere command. Now, let's copy this command and delete our sphere. Now, if we paste this code into the command line and hit Enter, the same sphere is created again. Just like that, we've successfully programmed the creation of a sphere. You can see how this functionality can help you quickly learn MEL syntax. Notice that Maya has also printed the syntax for selecting and deleting the sphere as well. Scripts can be especially useful when handling data sets in 3D. I've used data sets to create a variety of visualizations in Maya in my work for the times, including representing changes in demographics along the geography of New York, to pitches thrown by Mariano Rivera, to precinct level data in Ohio. Let's take a look at how we bring in the data for displaying new voter registrations in Columbus, Ohio. In the graphic, the data appears like this. Essentially, cubes at different heights and locations combined with our map of Ohio showing county boundaries. Our data in this case contains geo locations and a number of newly registered voters for each precinct. It's stored in a table in this CSV file. Our code to bring in this data is written in a MEL file. So, in this case, our code is written in the native to Maya, MEL language, but the same thing can be accomplished using Python. To load this code into Maya, we can simply drag it into the work area of our script editor. I'll walk you through how this code works. The first line creates a string type variable that tells Maya where to find our data locally. The next line here opens the file storing our data, and sets it to be able to be read by Maya. The next line creates a variable that will help us scale our data to the scene. At the moment, the geo locations are numbers that are far too big for the coordinate system of our scene. Next, we have a while loop that does a number of things. First, it says that while there is still a next line of data in our CSV, first remove the white spaces and turn each line into a single string. Then, retrieve the comma separated values and store them in our array. Then, it assigns the geo locations values to our X and Z coordinate system, and it assigns the number of registered voters to a height variable. Next, a cube is created with the same X and Z values, but with the number of voters assigned as the height of the cube. It's then moved into the position we assigned to the X and Z values. The Y value is assigned the height divided by two in this case because the cubes are positioned based on their center point, but we want them all to align at the base. Now, to run our script and see our data in 3D, we press Display button at the top of the script console, and our script will execute. And there we have it. Our data rendered as a 3D visualization. Always make sure that it makes sense to visualize your data in 3D. Don't do it just for effect when it could easily be rendered just the same in 2D. In this case, we have three dimensions of data, position on the map, and number of voters that lends itself towards a 3D Viz.