3D Animation for the Raw Beginner Using Maya: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

3D Animation for the Raw Beginner Using Maya

1st Edition

By Roger King

Chapman and Hall/CRC

486 pages | 32 Color Illus. | 776 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9781439852644
pub: 2014-08-15

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Each chapter of 3D Animation for the Raw Beginner Using Maya introduces critical aspects of the 3D animation process and presents clear and concise tutorials that link key concepts to practical Autodesk® Maya® techniques. Providing a principles-based, yet pragmatic, approach to 3D animation, this first-of-its-kind book:

  • Describes the process for creating animated projects in a nonmathematical fashion
  • Explains why—and not just how—to apply Maya techniques in the real world
  • Includes access to a dedicated Web site, http://3dbybuzz.com, featuring useful videos, lessons, and updates

3D Animation for the Raw Beginner Using Maya is an ideal academic textbook as well as a superlative do-it-yourself training manual. When employed as a text, it frees the instructor from the painstaking task of developing step-by-step examples to present Maya’s complex interface and basic capabilities. When used for individual study, aspiring animators revel in the book’s easy-to-follow, hands-on learning style.

Make 3D Animation for the Raw Beginner Using Maya your book of choice for understanding the essential theory and practice of 3D animation.


"The author convincingly introduces Maya as a starter app for modeling, rendering, and animation. And why not? Serious 3DCGers get to Maya sooner or later, so why not sooner?"

—Benjamin Wells, in Computing Reviews

Table of Contents



The Book’s Web Site

Getting Oriented

Focus and Approach of This Book

A Necessarily Nonlinear Approach to Learning 3D Animation

Perhaps the Most Important Principle


What Maya® Does and Does Not Do

The Special Needs of Gaming

Workflow Within and Around Maya

Other Applications Commonly Used by Animators

The Big Picture

Inside Maya

Other Application Needs

Working with Prefab Content

The Cabana of Cool Concepts

The Small Subset Approach to Learning 3D Animation

Every Animation App Is Unique

How to Use This Book


Contents of This Book

A Motivational Example

Art and Engineering

A Final Note

The Maya Interface and Modeling Concepts in Maya

The 3D World of Modeling and Animation

Seeing the 3D World through the Eyes of Maya

A Warning: The Maya Interface Can Be Intimidating, Don’t Be Dispirited

The Main Window

A Note on Changing Geometry Modes

The Hypershade

An Object and Its Attributes

The Render View for Creating Single Render Tests

Render Settings and the Batch Renderer for Creating Multiframe

Renderings for Video

How to Find Something in the Maya Interface

Maya’s Data Folders

Two Kinds of Modeling in Maya



Surface—And Not Solid—Modeling

Vector versus Raster Graphics

Polygon and NURBS Modeling

Choosing between Polygon and NURBS Modeling

NURBS Modeling Modes

Maya Is Always Rendering

Subdivision Is Alive and Well


Curved Lines, Bezier, and NURBS

Core Tools: Translate, Scale, and Rotate in Maya

Some Trig

Translation, Scaling, and Rotation in 3-Space

In Sum


Modeling, Creating Materials, and Rendering

Modeling as a Subjective Process

Deliberate Modeling

Models and Objects

Top-Down Modeling

Adding Detail with Precision

Choosing the Model Hierarchy

Building Models in Separate Scenes and Using Display Layers

Create Versions of Models That You Can Retreat To

In Sum

More on Layers in Maya

Using Curved Lines and mental ray to Make a NURBS Glass Dish

From Curved Lines to Smooth Surfaces

Creating a Series of NURBS Curves


Putting a Glass Material on the Dish

Two Software Renderers

Two Important Perspectives

Rendering by Tracing Rays

Glass in mental ray

The Background

More mental ray Computations: Quality

More mental ray Computations: Indirect Lighting

Shadows as Roots of Models

mental ray’s Advantage

The Renderer’s Main Job

Using Polygon Extrusion to (Start to) Make a Hand

Polygon Modeling: Basic Shapes

Recursive Refinement

The Hand

Using NURBS Lofting and Extrusion to Make a Saguaro Cactus

Using Reference Images

NURBS Extrude




Loft Again

In Sum

Hierarchies of Objects, a Polygon Example, Detailed Polygon Modeling, and a NURBS Example

Basic Concepts

Modeling Hierarchies


Formal Notions


Another Example

Extending the Notion of a Hierarchy

The Importance of the Outliner

Using Bevel, Extrude, Detach, and Combine to Make a Mailbox

A Working Set of Polygon Modeling Tools

Creating a New Edge




The Clip

Beveled Letters

Making a Polygon Moai

Rapa Nui

A Modeling Exercise: Making a Moai on Your Own

Making a Moai with Polygon Modeling

Smoothing and Rendering

Smoothing a Polygon Model: Many Choices

Smooth Tool

Using the Smooth Tool Locally

Adding Faces and Manipulating New Faces, and Beveling Edges

Manipulating Normals to Smooth Edges

Smoothing with mental ray, without Changing the Geometry

Surgically Mending an Imperfect Model

Merging Edges in a Single Piece of Geometry

Removing a Face with Merge to Center

Filling in a Hole in a Polygon Model with a Bridge Tool

Making Small and Graceful Changes to a Model

Sliding an Edge

Soft Move

Aligning Objects

Using the Sweep of a Cylinder and Resizing to Make a Breadbox

A NURBS Surface

The Sweep of a NURBS Surface

Nested Objects

Finishing the Geometry of the Breadbox

Materials, Bump Maps, Lights, Projection versus Normal Textures, Connecting NURBS Surfaces, and Layered Textures

The Bottom Line

Working with Maya Materials to Make a Tabletop

Ways to Surface a Model

Textures and Materials for the Maya Software Renderer

Bump Maps

Finishing the Table Scene

Materials or Textures?


Ambient Light and Shadows

Directional Light and Shadows

Point Light and Shadows

Spotlights and Shadows

Area Light

mental ray Light Shaders

mental ray 2D and 3D Lights

Depth Map versus Raytraced Shadows

The Varnished Table

Being Creative with Textures for Bump Maps: Making a Road and a Sidewalk

More Bump Maps

Completing the Scene: Creating a Light Pole and Painting 3D Geometry to Make Grass

Creating a Layered Texture in Pixelmator

Photographs for Textures

Working outside of Maya

The Uses of Bit-Mapped Images

Blending Layers

Rusty, Painted Metal

Layering Capability Native to Maya

Brief Note: Various Color Systems

Cylindrical Projection of an Image Texture on the Cactus

Projection or Normal Texture?

Projecting Textures

Conversion to Polygons

Types of Projections


Adjusting the Projection of a Texture

Stitching NURBS Surfaces to Make Carpeted Stairs


Connecting Stairs

Putting a Material on the Stairs

Using the Append to Polygon Tool for Connecting Two Stairs

Using a File Texture as a Material’s Color and Making a Material Stick

A Texture as a Color of a Material

Assigning an Image to a Material’s Color Attribute

Adjusting and Fixing the Material Placement

Adjusting the Material’s Ambient Color Attribute

Using Polygon Face Extrusion and a File Texture as a Lambert Color to Make an Ice Rink

Extruding the Wall

Using a File Texture for the Fence

Using Two Layers for Ice

Textures versus Geometry: Bump Maps versus Displacement Maps

Bump Maps versus Displacement Maps in Maya

Bump Maps

Displacement Maps

The Resulting Render: Comparing Bump Maps to Displacement Maps

Particle Dynamics

Use Emitters Sparingly

Saving Render Time

Rocket Pollution and Hardware Particles

The Attributes of the Emitter and the Particles

Using Software Particles in nDynamics to Create Trix

nDynamics in Maya

Particle Dynamics Engines and Solvers

Emitting Trix into the Glass Bowl


Scaling the Trix

Ramp Textures

The Trix’s Ramp



An Aside

Creating a Cloth Flag with nDynamics

nDynamics Meets Geometry

A Flag

Putting a Texture on the Flag

Making the Flag Flap

Creating Rain with nDynamics

Downward Gravity versus the Upward Bounce of a Collider

Two Planes: Rain Clouds and the Ground

Rain Particles

The Ground

Making It Rain


Specialized Dynamics Applications

A First Look at Adding Animation

Moving an Object along a Motion Path

Creating a Path

Putting an Object on a Path

From the Camera’s Perspective: A River Ride

Keyframing an Object

The Timeline

Creating Keyframes

Using the Graph Editor to Reuse Animation

The Graph Editor

Motion Cycles

Driven Keys

Using Skeletons to Simulate Natural Movement

Inverse Kinematics versus Forward Kinematics

Inverse Kinematics in a Leg

The Power of Inverse Kinematics Skeletons

The Fuzzy Border between Modeling and Animating

Using NURBS, Shatter, and Fur to Make an Egg and Crack It

Smooth Modeling for an Egg

Cracking the Egg with the Shatter Tool

A Chick and Fur

Maya Fur and nHair: An nDynamics Effect

Using Blend Shape to Animate the Leg of the Chick Being Born

Animating a Chick Leg with a Blend Shape

Using a Bend Deformer to Animate Rolling Up a Pool Cover

The Bend Deformer

Animating a Swimming Pool Cover

Bouncing a Squishy Ball with a Squash Deformer

Keyframing the Ball

Running and Rendering the Scene

Using the Lattice Deformer to Damage Our Mailbox

Morphing the Mailbox

The Rendered Result

A Note on Using the Lattice Deformer

Using Deformers for Modeling: An Important Detail

Light Fog, Fluids, and Another Look at Materials

Fixing a Tiled Texture with Overlays

Experimenting with Textures

Adding Noise to the Tiling Lines

Two Final Notes on Tiling

Making a Seamless Texture with Maya Paint

Painting a Seamless Tiled Texture

Creating and Tiling a File Texture

Making Glass Bottles with NURBS and mental ray

The Three Bottles

mental ray Settings

A Bottle inside a Bottle

The Render

Glass and Particles for a Single-Frame Image

The Scene

Fluid Containers

mental ray Glass

The Background

Rendering Settings

Using Light Fog and Glow to Create a Night Scene


A Sidewalk and Street Scene with Fog

Making a Material Behave Like a Light

The Render

An Example Model: A Closet

Multiple Coordinate Systems in Maya

Opening and Closing Doors with the Rotate Tool, and Bounding Boxes

Adding Detail to the Doors with the Interactive Split Tool

The Render

One More Look at World Space versus Object Space

Making a Shirt out of nCloth and Rendering from a Camera’s Perspective

A Shirt Made of nCloth: Starting with a Basic Shape

A NURBS Hanger

Extruding Sleeves, Making Arm and Neck Holes, and Refining the Shape of the Shirt

A Passive Collider Hanger and Fields

Letting the Cloth Drape on the Hanger and Creating a Camera

The Camera’s Perspective and Rendering

Timing Animation to a Soundtrack and Rendering Multiple Frames

Opening up the Time Slider: Making Room for Audio

Sound in Maya

Guiding the Keyframing of a Scene with the Sound Wave

Rendering with the Batch Renderer

Using the Graph Editor in Maya to Fine-Tune Animation

Frame and Value

The Rotation Curve

A Useful Tool: fCheck

Light Linking to Accentuate the Closet Doors

Controlling Lights

Why Control Lights Artificially?

Three-Point Lighting

Fill Lights in Maya

Placing and Positioning Models in a Scene

Controlling Lights from the Hypershade

Specialized Animation Techniques

Skeletons, Inverse Kinematics Handles, Rigging, and

Skinning a Simple Humanoid

HIK: The Skeleton Maker in Maya

Maya’s Skeleton Generator


The Rig


Making Your Character’s Body More Organic

Controlling the Movement of a Skeleton: Pinning and Constraining, and the Sticky Checkbox

A Last Remark

Active Rigid Objects and Gravity: A Bowling Ball and Pins

The Bowling Ball and Pins: Collisions

Four Rigid Bodies

Making the Ball Move: Gravity!

Calculating Collisions

Using Soft Body Dynamics to Age a Moai Statue

Turning the Moai into a Soft Body

Before and After

Using the Channel Box for Keyframing the Transparency of a Moai

Making Our Moai Disappear

Using an Expression to Rotate a Doorknob

The Rendering

A Note on Using the Outliner Window

Using Maya Expressions and Variables to Animate Models

Example 1: Applying an Expression to the Visibility Attribute of an Object That Has a Material with a Glow Intensity

Example 2: Our Squashing Ball

More Maya Embedded Language (MEL)

Creating an Ocean Water Swell

Using nCloth as Water and Applying Gravity

The Ball Falls through the Water and Creates a Rippling Swell

Specialized Materials and Material Effects

Making a Toon Cow

The Vector Renderer

The Toon Shader

Making a Graffiti-Covered Wall with Paint Effects

The Paint Effects Canvas

Painting on an Image

Choosing a More Realistic Effect

The mental ray Sky Dome

The Rendering

Baking a Material

A Homemade Sky Dome

The UV Texture Editor

The (u, v) Surfacing Problem

A Planar Projection of a Normal File Texture and Using the Move and Scale Tools to Adjust It

Using the Scale Tool in the UV Editor

Rotating and Flipping

A Closer Look at the UV Editor: Creating and Manipulating UV Maps

A Doorknob’s (u, v) Texture Mapping

The UV Smudge Tool

A Comparison of Different UV Editor Mappings

Multi-App Maya Workflow, Managing Complex Scenes, and Sculpting Applications

The Inter-App Workflow Dilemma

Plug-Ins That Work Pretty Well

Specialized Modeling: Bipeds

Exterior Environments: Vue and Terragen

Specialized Modeling: Sculpting with ZBrush

Stand-Alone Renderers: Maxwell, Octane, and Indigo

Translating Materials: The Rendering Plug-In’s Main Job

Sculpting Applications and Sculpting with Maya

ZBrush and Mudbox

Reducing Meshes in Maya

Maya’s Soft Modification Tool

Advanced Light and Materials Properties and Effects

Ambient Occlusion

Global Illumination and Final Gathering


Light Emitting Materials: Irradiance

Coloring mental ray’s Glass Material

Coloring a Material with Lights

Using Anisotropy with mental ray to Control the Transparency of Frosted Glass

Using the Penumbra and Drop-off Settings on a Maya Spotlight

Adjusting the Resolution Attribute of a Directional Light in Maya

Adding Raytrace Shadows and mental ray Sun and Sky to the Bottle

The Cabana

A Beginner’s Project: Basic, Top-Down Architectural Modeling


Reference Images

Modeling with Texturing and Animating in Mind

The Cabana

Using Prefab Content to Flesh Out a Scene

Building the Cabana: Workflow

A Note on Animating Humans

The Cool Concepts of the Cabana

Cool Concepts


About the Author

Roger "Buzz" King is a professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he teaches 3D animation for the Computer Science Department and ATLAS, an institute dedicated to the application of technology to the arts. He is a member of the board of advisors for a graphics startup, the cofounder of a second graphics startup, and currently focusing on his 3D modeling studio (http://BuzzWorks.buzz). He holds an AB from Occidental College, Los Angeles and a Ph.D from USC. His research has been funded by the US Air Force, Navy, NASA, DARPA, DOE, NREL, Smithsonian, IBM, and AT&T. He has served as an expert FBI witness and been involved in the original development of the Encyclopedia of Life.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
COMPUTERS / Computer Graphics