Understanding Maya - 3D Art Production & Gameplay and Interactivity


A huge part of Computer Game Arts is 3D modelling through 3D computer graphics software. The majority of games nowadays have moved on from the art style of 2D pixels on a screen, with technology being far more advanced and enabling players to experience more realistic and true-to-life gameplay visuals. This is done through 3D modelling and these models aren't only used for games but can also be a means of creating 3D animation and special effects in films! So, with all of this in mind, I am very excited and determined to not only understand how to create these models but to put in a lot of effort to do it well so that I can have fun using it and be able to experiment with how my models can be used. (I've even noticed that 3D environments can be used to produce 360 YouTube videos, but more on that in the future...)

As I am creating both a Battle Arena and a Walkthrough Game simultaneously for this course I needed to create 3D models for both of them. The software that I'm learning is Maya, a well known 3D computer graphics software which is widely used to create interactive 3D applications ranging from games to animations and visual effects.

When I first started using Maya it took me a while to understand and remember the keyboard shortcuts and overall techniques on how to build object from blocks, extruding and manipulating wire meshes. It's entirely different from drawing in 2D art and because of this I found it difficult to start from a blank scene and create what I wanted from my mind.

So instead I started with a tutorial! I built this cartoon house from a series of YouTube videos that I had found and got to witness first hand the commentators thought processes as he was creating the house which helped me to understand how to go about customising the shapes and using the different tools as well as some very useful time saving tips such as using the outliner tool to group everything together instead of having to combine meshes all of the time just in case I still wanted them to stay separate to add changes, but was then still able to move things around as a group instead of individually. This also taught me to think ahead when creating my models to think about texturing and what will happen if I need to import it into Unity3D. For example, in the house above the door has a separate panel to add some depth to the texturing and I had to make the door separate from the house if I wanted to import it and animate to open and close for gameplay in Unity.

Once I had created this house I found it a lot easier to begin modelling the rest of my environment assets (the environment below is for my walkthrough game). I could reuse shapes I had created before and simply modify them to suit another asset that I needed instead of having to start from a basic object every time which saved a lot of time. Below I have made a gate, fence, cobbled path, well and a speaker in half the time that it took me to create the house (which was a day) just by reusing parts of it.

Josef from Machinarium - Character modelling
I wanted to give myself a challenge after having grasped the very basics of modelling and tasked myself with creating a 3D model of the robot protagonist Josef from the point-and-click game, Machinarium. (It's a cute and overall awesome game for those of you that haven't played it, and if you haven't, go do so, NOW!  :) )

I started from his tube body, changing the width divisions lower than 20 to make him look a little less smooth and more clunky to keep with the old steampunk art style and created the shape of the protruding pipes by extracting different layers out and repositioning them to make them thinner or wider, then redoing that over and over and over, the whole time being careful to try and create the curves that I wanted when I reached his head. I then used the multi-component select tools to select either points or lines of the mesh and move them around individually, or created more points and lines by using the multi-cut or insert edge-loop tools. For the eyes, arms and legs I created them separately using the same extruding method and then placed them where I wanted on Josef's body and merged the mesh together to create one overall object.

I'm really happy with what I was able to create and think he looks pretty spot on, a little chubbier, but a little podge is cute!

I became inspired by the first YouTube videos that I watched on learning how to create the cartoon house and how much it helped me to just see someone's thought processes when learning Maya and so have uploaded my own video on creating a ladder to YouTube. It's a simple object to create but through watching the video you can much easier see my techniques and understanding of the different tools within Maya to create the object as well as when things go wrong and how I go about fixing them, it's much easier to watch me create something that read about me babbling on about my learning processes through Maya (although you already have done so THANK YOU!) so if you need more information of how I have learnt to 3D model and how I create my models then have a watch :)

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