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'Learning Maya 7': Texturing the Orb — Part 1

In the latest excerpt from Learning Maya 7 | Foundation, Marc-AndrGuindon and Cathy McGinnis cover texturing a polygonal meshing.

All images from Learning Maya 7 | Foundation by Marc-André Guindon and Cathy McGinnis. Reprinted with permission.

This is an excerpt in a series from Learning Maya 7 | Foundation by Marc-André Guindon and Cathy McGinnis from Alias|Learning Tool. In the next few excerpts, you will learn to texture a polygonal meshing. Even though polygons have a default setting for UV parameters onto which textures can be applied, you will need to adjust these settings for each specific application. You can use special polygon tools to assign and modify these kinds of values on the orb.

You will first apply texture projections in order to create UV coordinates on the polymesh. Then you will texture map the orb using a series of texture maps imported as file textures.

In this and the next few excerpts, you will learn the following: How to project textures on polygons, how to manipulate projections; how to use the Texture Editor; how to use the Paint Selection Tool; how to manipulate UVs and how to animate a texture.

Planar Mapping

The orb will be textured using multiple shading groups and texture maps. You will start by texturing the top and bottom caps at the same time. The method of positioning the texture on the surface will be accomplished using useful polygon texturing tools. Feel free to continue using your own file or start with

  • 1. Create and assign a new shader
  • Open the Hypershade window.

  • Create a Blinn material node.

Bitmap file to be used as color texture map.

Blinn is the material that looks the most like metal.

  • Assign the Blinn material to both the topCap and the bottomCap objects.

  • Rename the material node to metalBlinn.

  • Turn on hardware texturing in your view panel(s) for the upcoming steps.
  • 2. Map an image file to the color
  • Open the Attribute Editor for the metalBlinn node.

  • Map the Color attribute with a File texture node. Make sure that the Normal option is selected at the top of the Create Render Node window.

  • Rename the file1 node metalFile.

  • Click on the Folder Icon button next to Image Name.

  • In the sourceimages directory of the project2 project, locate the metal.tif image file.

    Click Open.

The texture has been placed on the polymesh surface using the default UV mapping inherited from the original revolved surface.


Applied textures using default UVs.
Incorrect UVs.

Notice the pinching of the texture at the center of the cap. That pinch is due to the points of the revolved surface that meet at that location. Also notice the hash lines at the groove location. This is a visual cue to show that no UVs were created by the Bevel Tool.

  • 3. Planar mapping You will be using the polygon planar projection method to create correct UV coordinates on the orbs caps.
  • Select the topCap and bottomCap.

  • Select Polygon UVs > Planar Mapping > box.gif.

  • Enable the Fit to Bounding Box option and enable the Y-axis option, which tells Maya to do the UV projection along the world Y-axis.

  • Click the Project button.

A large projection plane icon surrounding both objects appears, which projects the texture map along the Y-axis. You can see the texture mapped onto the surface with hardware texturing.

  • 4. Projection manipulators The projection manipulator allows you to transform the projection to better suit your geometry.

You can toggle the manipulator type for a conventional all-in-one manipulator by LMB+clicking on the red T.


Planar project manipulator.
Other planar project manipulator.

Note: If the projection manipulator disappears, reselect the geometry, click on the polyPlanProj input node in the Channel Box, and select the Show Manipulator Tool or press the t hotkey.

  • 5. Open the Texture Editor
  • Select Window > UV Texture Editor...

    The window opens displaying the mapped UVs of the cap geometry, shown from the view of the texture projection.

Note: The view of the object and the loaded texture are both initially displayed in the Texture Editor with a square proportion regardless of the proportion of the planar projection positioned in the 3D space of the model and the proportion of the texture image file.

Find out more about building an orb and other topics in Learning Maya 7 | Foundation by Marc-André Guindon and Cathy McGinnis: Alias|Learning Tools, 2005. 642 pages with illustrations and DVD. ISBN: 1-894893-74-3 ($69.95). Check back to VFXWorld frequently to read new excerpts.

Primary author Marc-André Guindon is the founder of Realities Studio, a Montreal-based production facility. An advanced user of both Maya and Alias MotionBuilder, Marc-André and Realities have partnered with Alias on several projects, including The Art of Maya, Learning Maya 6 | MEL Fundamentals and the series Learning Maya 7. He had developed plug-ins and tools for films and games, including the Outlaw Game series. He served as td on XXX2, State of the Union, Scooby-Doo 2 and Dawn of the Dead.

Contributing author Cathy McGinnis is an Alias certified instructor teaching at the Media Design School in Auckland, New Zealand. Cathy was previously a technical product specialist for Alias, specializing in rendering in both Maya and mental ray for Maya. She has been a contributor to several Alias publications, including Learning Maya | Rendering and Learning Maya | Foundation.