I’ve been thinking about this article for a while but have never quite known how to approach it- it’s difficult to describe. Anyway, here it goes. Special thanks to all that read this- I know it’s long and I apologize for that. I tried to keep it simple.
CURVES- What a powerful tool in Maya. But I often have a difficult time with them. I am switching from another 3D modeling program called FormZ. Creating curves in FormZ is a piece of cake compared to Maya.
Drawing curves in FormZ is similar to creating curves in Illustrator of Photoshop. Its a point and click process to create 90 degree corners and then being able (without combining, attaching or filleting multiple curves) to create large radii and then into more 90 degree turns. In Maya I do not get that same ability with ease. At least not that I’ve found.
Bare with me for an example-
Draw out the letter “L” with one curve (It’s 2" tall(X dimension) by 1" wide (Z dimension)) . In order to get that nice 90 degree corner I set my EPcurve tool to linear instead of cubic. 3 clicks and I’m done. If I want to create a radius at the corner. I have to set my curve tool to cubic and click in the correct areas to create the curve. No problem, but it’s about an 8 click process. Or I can create two linear curves and fillet them, get an exact radius, trim them and attach them all in one step. Great the less steps the better.
Filleting two linear curves transforms the linear curves into cubic. I can understand why Maya needs more spans for the actual radiused portion of the curve, but it also adds more spans to the straight parts, which do not need any more spans. I’m trying to keep my spans to a minimum. For my letter “L” example this isn’t too much of a problem. However, some of my curves are complex, I need many sharp 90 degree bends and other parts to be subtle smooth curves. It seems the only way to create curves of this magnitude is to create multiple LINEAR segments and multiple CUBIC segments and then attach them, or fillet them together. This seems time consuming to me and again Maya puts in multiple spans on straight segements of the curve. Another Idea I had was to use a cubic line tool and whenever I need to create a 90 degree turn to put about 3 CV’s in that spot. This creates the sharp bend but I don’t think it is a good idea do to the fact that it doesn’t help with keeping spans to a minimum.
I have problems Filleting in multiple dimensions
Draw another line that travels 2" in the “Y” (the 3rd dimension) and place it over the far right part of the horizontal line of our “L” and try to fillet that new line with the previously radiused “L”. I can’t get it to work.
Also- direction seems to play an important part in attaching curves. When I fillet, sometimes I think Maya is secretly changing the curve’s direction. Which makes attaching another curve to it a pain, because one of them needs reversed.
- Here’s another example. Draw a square with four individual linear lines. I can fillet 3 of the 4 corners, but not the forth. When I try to fillet the 4th corner I get bad geometry and the curve is now periodic. This is largely do to the fact that I have my fillet tool set to trim and join. If you deselect those option you can fillet all 4 corners but then have to go and attach all of them. Somehow, some of the curves are now reversed and I have to re-reverse them…see where I’m going with this?..too many steps.
I’ve done a lot of reading of Maya documents and I feel I understand it’s curves and properties; linear, cubic, spans, open, closed, periodic yada, yada- but I still have problems creating them. I’m trying to keep my curves as simple as possible- yet still keep the detail I need in them. It’s a real challenge for me. In FormZ, you could create a complete complex curve in a fraction of the time I’m creating them in Maya. Am I missing something or are curves just a part of Maya that is time consuming? If anyone has any tips or tuts on creating good clean, low span curves I’d love to hear about it.
Thanks to all- Any help on curves is greatly appreciated.