After last week’s fruity frolics and forays into furniture, we began week four of our Maya Course finishing the seat cover of our poly modelled chair. The back row gang was complete again as our comrade James returned as he was unable to attend last week’s lessons. He was gutted to miss the chair making exercise, because he’s a budding furniture designer now hoping to get an internship at a London studio, and believes learning Maya will boost his creative potential.
However, my Monday mood was blowing a little hot and cold, with weekend tiredness hanging over me as our first lesson flowed along. Mark turned from teaching us basic ‘shell’ or ‘atomic’ modelling, to demonstrate how to ‘box’ model. From a polygon primitive cube, we extruded faces against a template to create a tap, but my faucet looked as if it had been fitted by a plumber with a sledge hammer, such were the twisted edges. However, Mark spouted even the most experienced industry modellers will create work three times before they are happy with the results, as each subsequent model is made more quickly and accurately than the last. I will plug this exercise again on Sunday to see if I can make a more accurate representation, and put this theory to the test.
Feeling all shook up by the time of Wednesday’s lesson, I was on a roll as we took the first look at the final part of our pipeline; texturing a dice. Using a primitive cube as a base, we UV mapped on the dots as a texture, then used bump and displacement maps to create an illusion of contours. We learnt how to set up a basic shot by adding a light and camera to the scene, and saw with subtle tweaks of material, texture and light direction, how multiple basic, visual effects can be achieved. It’s exciting to see how all the elements of the pipeline fit together, but if you asked me to complete a workflow now, could I? No dice! We have to repeat these processes a number of times before we are left to our own devices on our projects.
For our tutor Mark has to keep quite a pace up as there is a lot of material to cover, and rather than my slowing down the whole group by constantly asking questions, we fortunately have an able studio assistant, Ash, who we can tap for information. He quietly patrols behind us, ready and waiting to point us in the right direction of a hidden menu, or enlighten us to some of Maya’s known interface quirks. The studio assistants at Escape have all completed the class room courses themselves, and are handpicked to work here for their knowledge of the software, as well as their friendly manner and helpful disposition. Their time here, usually about six months, is generally used as a stepping stone for their fledgling CG career, where they can refine their showreel, network with the countless Escape industry contacts, or learn new programs such as Houdini and Naiad.
With all these resources on hand; a seasoned pro tutor, knowledgeable studio assistant, and online course material, I will really have no excuse to produce a decent Maya Core project - no pressure then!