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Maya 2012


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If you're brand new to Maya, then the best advice I can give you for getting started, the same advice I give everyone, is don't even think about anything so specific as making SL content until after you've spent some time learning the basics of Maya itself first.  I know that's probably not what you want to hear right now, but it's imperative that you take this advice to heart.  Otherwise, you're in for a world of frustration.  Trust me; I've been doing this a long time, and I can absolutely promise you you'll only end up hating life if you try to skip over any of the basics now.

Whenever anyone approaches Maya for the first time with "I want to make _______" in mind,  it's always a recipe for disaster.  No matter what the blank happens to be, and no matter who the person happens to be, the end result of that approach is always the same, frustration.   It's just not the way learning Maya works, period.

It's not that learning Maya is hard.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  It's actually one of the easiest programs to learn in existence on this planet.  But the information has to be absorbed in the right order, or it simply doesn't work.  The basic fundamentals have to be there first, or nothing else makes much sense.

I tell people this all the time.  If you try to put the cart before the horse, you will inevitably experience nothing but frustration after frustration, after frustration, and you won't know why.  Today, you happen to be experiencing a simple misunderstanding about one particular fundamental.  Tomorrow it'll be something else.  And then something else, and something else, and something else...  Keep that going, and six months from now, you'll be barely any further along than you are now, because you will have spent five and half months worth of that time trying to problem-solve at every turn, rather than actually getting anything done.  Again, without the fundamentals in place, the whole thing just doesn't work.

Trust me; I've seen it a thousand times.  Some people are tempted to respond with, "I'm smart.  I'll figure it out as I go.  Now let me just make my _______, and be on my way."  But the reality is the question of how smart or capable you may be is beside the point.  This simply isn't the way to learn Maya, period.

The way that absolutely works every single time, for every single new user, at all capability levels, is to learn Maya itself first, and then apply that knowledge to making whatever you want, be it SL content, or anything else.  So, as I said, forget all about SL related stuff for the next few weeks, and instead spend that time diving into Maya's basics. 

The way every single proficient user of Maya has ever done it, from hobbyists to high end professionals, starts is by going through all the Getting Started tutorials in the help file.  And I do mean ALL of them.  Don't skip over any, don't go out of order.  Even if you don't (yet) see how a particular tutorial relates to what you (think you) want to know, do it anyway.  Trust me; it's all relevant, and it's all critical need-to-know information.

You see, unlike with most other programs, Maya's help file is actually helpful.  A sizable portion of the $3500 price tag you paid for Maya went to pay for that help file.  It is quite simply THE best included help of any program I've ever seen.  There is absolutely no better way to get started with Maya than to use those tutorials.  Even 3D graphics majors at universities and high end trade schools, who pay thousands of dollars for professional instruction in Maya, are expected to do those Getting Started tutorials before they do anything else at all.  You paid several hundred dollars for that help file.  Don't waste that money.  Use it.

After you've been through all the tutorials, you'll find that everything you need to do in order to make SL content (or anything else) will almost automatically make sense to you.  You'll still have more to learn, of course, but you'll have a really solid mastery of the basics of the program.  From there, you'll be able to branch out into any specialty you want, with relative ease, SL content modeling included.

Once you've got a good handle on the basics of Maya (which will happen sooner than you might think, via those tutorials), you'll find that most SL-suitable models will be almost absurdly easy for you to make.  But in the here and now, if you keep trying to focus on that instead of the basics of Maya itself, you'll unfortunately find that learning Maya will be extremely difficult, and it will only continue to get harder as you keep going from that direction. 

So, at the risk of beating this into the ground, I'll say one more time, the best thing you can do for yourself right now is put the SL thoughts on hold, and spend the next couple of weeks diving into those Getting Started tutorials.  Think of it is a temporary step back, in order to make a giant leap forward.  SL will still be here waiting for you when you're done.

Also, I should mention, the tutorials are fun.  So don't feel like this is going to be a chore.  Learning Maya is a highly enjoyable process.  Have a good time with it. :)




By the way, since you use the word "sculpted", I have to ask, were you using the term specifically, in reference to making sculpted primitives (sculpties), or were you just using the word more generically, as a synonym form modeling in general?

If it's the former, then I have to give you an additional word of caution.  For the new user, sculpties in particular are especially problematic toward the learning process.  Sculpties are just plain weird.  They're entirely unique to SL, and the way we work with them is almost completely bass ackwards from how we work when creating any other kind of model.  Bottom line: making sculpties won't teach you much about Maya, or about 3D modeling in general.  But learning Maya, and learning the basics of 3D modeling, will absolutely teach you to make sculpties.  I hope you get what I mean by that, at least in principle.

I also have to ask why you're even concerned with sculpties at all, if that is indeed what you were talking about.  Now that SL supports arbitrary mesh import, sculpties are all but obsolete.  They still have their uses here and there, but on the whole, (well made) mesh models beat the pants off sculpties, in every measurable way, as well as in aesthetics.

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I can't agree more with your words, Chosen. (can I print the post and pin on my wall? :))

I'm doing mesh clothing for SL now, and took a while to figure out how to make good meshes suitable for SL.
But I come from a (self made, sic..) learning process on Blender, from the basic of modeling to texturing, weighting and so on.
I had so much fun doing the basic to advanced tutorials in 3d modeling, from subdividing a sphere to carving a funny face in and make it laugh, that when I started doing mesh clothing I could easily concentrate on design and particulars, and SL importing bug fixes.

For what I have seen (just a glance, Maya is my next step) Maya is a powerful and complete software, with an affordable learning curve.

I'm still a "3d noob",and for that I continue to do tutorials: this is the best way I found to escape frustration, in my personal experience. If you do like that, you will see that 3d modeling is not rocket science, and you find your personal smooth workflow.

Another thing that helped me a lot for SL, is to follow tutorials on 3d modeling for games, once you have the basics.

Good luck for your future creations :)


I never learned to make proper sculpties...too many limitations :D

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  • 2 months later...

I've created a simple NURBS cube in Maya, set all the parameters correctly, I assume, one never knows. But when I run the Maya Sculpty Exporter v1.03, I get the following error message that leaves me puzzled and frustrated:

// Error: line 433: Failed attempt to issue command to imageServer //


I have no idea what could be wrong, or what should be done to fix it, anyone please? Thank you in advance ;)



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