seeking a badass maya workflow

polycounter lvl 6
Offline / Send Message
pixelb polycounter lvl 6
Background: I've been a Blender user for years, but I'm trying to get better at Maya to make myself more marketable. I've used Maya on and off the past so I'm familiar with the interface and the modeling commands, but I'm painfully slow at everything. I can't go more than twenty minutes without corrupting my file or hitting a bug, and when I try to explain the issue to coworkers I get the blank-eyed "why would you want to do that?" stare. I suspect I'm failing because I'm bringing all my Blender habits over, while the Maya pros have evolved a workflow over the years that avoids all its potholes.

Can someone point me to a streamer or tutorial by someone who's a real badass at modeling + unwrapping in Maya, so I can compare my workflow? Bonus points for environment and/or hardsurface artists. 

Replies

  • huffer
    Offline / Send Message
    huffer polycounter lvl 7
    You can overcome the slowness in time, but hitting bugs and losing scenes - you'll always encounter that :) I know I still do, after three years...and with each new version of Maya - new quirks and setbacks. I think the best idea is to ask someone good on feedback and explanations on every issue.
  • Marshkin
    Online / Send Message
    Marshkin polycounter lvl 4
    Increment and save will be your best friend. 
    Also, if you save in Maya ASCII format rather then binary, even if your file does become corrupted, you can often salvage some of it!  

  • pixelb
    Offline / Send Message
    pixelb polycounter lvl 6
    Whoops, meant to ask this in the general discussion forum.

    @huffer I've grudgingly accepted that Maya is a garbage program that's going to crash five times a day no matter what I do, but right now it's more like 20 times and I need believe I can bring that number down, or else I'm going to go crazy. When I ask around I get a lot of "I don't know, that never happens to me."

    @Marshkin Already doing that, but still. There has to be ways to avoid crashes in the first place. I never wasted time salvaging broken models before and I'm not going to start if I can help it.
  • Bartalon
    Offline / Send Message
    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    As others have said, speed will come with mastery of the software.  What I would suggest is to learn some MEL Script or Python / PyMel.  You can combine numerous steps into a single button and even augment existing hotkeys to sidestep bugs or crashes (If Maya crashes it's often for very tangible reasons which can be duplicated and therefore avoided).

    Feel free to hit me up if you have any Maya questions.
  • throttlekitty
    Offline / Send Message
    throttlekitty Polycount Sponsor
    At this point, Maya is a lot pickier about geometry than Blender, just going off some of the videos I see. i know that I have plenty of little pothole avoidance maneuvers and I can't think of many right now, second nature and all. The big one is to peridocially clear construction history; most the times I ever see corrupted scenes from people, they have several hundred entries in there. Also, uncheck Save Panel Layouts in preferences>ui, i've lost much because of this being on in the past.

    So what exactly are you doing to get this many crashes, it's abnormal. Mind if I take a look at a scene file or two? It's hard to say "don't do that" without knowing what's going on as a whole.
  • Joopson
    Offline / Send Message
    Joopson Polycount Sponsor
    Honestly, the more you use it, the less it will crash. I guess probably because you learn what triggers crashes and what doesn't, and you learn to constantly delete history. I've been using Maya since 2005, probably, and by now, it crashes maybe once every couple of weeks, and usually when I'm using some custom tool.
  • onionhead_o
    Offline / Send Message
    onionhead_o polycounter lvl 9
    hang in there man I went through the same frustration when I transition from Max to maya.

    here are some vids

    Tips and tricks:
    https://www.youtube.com/user/mayatoolbelt

    workflow:
    Slipgatecentral making of N0X-2292


    making a scifi grenade





  • pixelb
    Offline / Send Message
    pixelb polycounter lvl 6

    @ Joopson Which is why I asked specifically for examples of other people using Maya. So I could see what stuff doesn't trigger crashes and just do that.

    It's my fault for posting to the wrong forum. Post in technical talk, get technical answers. That's not what the thread was supposed to be about, but since people are keen on helping I may as well take advantage of the situation and make this the big list of pixelb's Maya gripes. Some are bugs, some are annoyances, some are headdesk moments. Have at it!

    Maya Gripes

    (I'm using Maya 2017, latest version)

    [BUG] I actually like the viewcube. It's the only thing that navigates the scene the way I like, by snapping to ortho views without changing the camera. Too bad Autodesk stopped supporting it years ago. It doesn't work with viewport 2.0, it's not hotkeyable, and worst of all, it toggles off any time you use half the commands in the modeling toolbox.

    [BUG] On a fresh install, Maya will sometimes save instead of copy. This has happened to me twice on educational licences, and I know no fix for it other than to reinstall.
    A friend explained that Maya is actually saving a file when you copy, which is why I get the "this file is being saved with a student version of Maya" popup. It is still super confusing and annoying that you have to close the popup every time you copy. 

    [BUG] You can't hotkey ctrl+W? You can try, but the hotkey won't work?? This is just a thing that's broken??? 

    [ANNOYING] Looks like custom shelves aren't saved if Maya crashes? There's no way to save them manually short of quitting Maya and restarting?

    [BUG] Every time I start Maya I have to switch to my custom hotkey setup (known bug with 2017) (going to try the script workaround for this)

    [ANNOYING] Middle mouse zooms out in bigger increments than it zooms in. I read that alt+left mouse is the "correct" way to zoom, but I like zooming in increments. Why keep middle mouse zoom around if you're not going to make it usable?

    [CORRUPT FILE?] I was fiddling with the "make hole" tool and managed to make a mesh with nonmanifold edges that cannot be deleted. Running the cleanup tool on them crashes Maya. (file here)

    [CORRUPT FILE?] Fist time I discovered the "freeze mesh" command in the modeling toolbow, I froze a mesh that I cannot unfreeze. It can be selected, but going into component mode doesn't work. (file here)

    [ANNOYING] Extrude works differently based on component type. I want to be able to extrude an edge even if I have two verts selected.  

    [ANNOYING] Can't change the opacity of the xray material. The default makes it hard to judge which verts are on the back side of the mesh.

    [ANNOYING] You can't change the decimal precision of the modeling toolkit to more than two places, even though the rest of Maya defaults to three. 

    [HEADDESK] Maya ate my hotkeys! I opened a file from a previous version and got the "some info may be lost" error. After that my custom hotkey set was gone. Vanished. Checked the presets folder- no trace. These events may or may not be connected.

    [???] Sometimes vertex selection lags a few seconds between clicks- no clue what causes it. 

  • pixelb
    Offline / Send Message
    pixelb polycounter lvl 6
    @ Bartalon I was really hoping I could do this without having to learn a scripting language. But I agree, that would help. @Throttlekitty I know to delete history but the panel UI thing is new, I'll give it a try.
  • Joopson
    Offline / Send Message
    Joopson Polycount Sponsor
    A couple things that stand out:

    You can save all your shelves by hitting the little gear icon to the left of the shelf, and choosing "save all shelves"

    xray is outdated and crappy. If I really need something like it, I apply a transparent shader, and make sure to enable "depth peeling" sorting, in viewport 2.0.

    Also, I'm not sure what you mean by "save instead of copy".

    I was able to solve the freeze/unfreeze problem by selecting the mesh in the outliner, and exporting it as an OBJ, and then reimporting it.

    Besides that, a lot of these are things I haven't seen, personally.
  • pixelb
    Offline / Send Message
    pixelb polycounter lvl 6
    @onionhead_o Thanks for actually answering the question. The toolbelt video is a prime example of what I'm NOT looking for. It's easy to find beginner tuts and vids on individual tools, but the former tend to be too slow and simple and the latter only show the tools in an optimal setting. There's not enough chances for things to go wrong. The other two are solid gold. I know the Slipgate one and I think it's great, I just wish there were more of it. The other one is exactly what I'm after. I'm also looking at Thiago Klafke's Unreal4 tutorial and anything by Marc Brunet.
  • pixelb
    Offline / Send Message
    pixelb polycounter lvl 6
    You can save all your shelves by hitting the little gear icon to the left of the shelf, and choosing "save all shelves"
    That's good enough for me!
    xray is outdated and crappy. If I really need something like it, I apply a transparent shader, and make sure to enable "depth peeling" sorting, in viewport 2.0.

    Ah, but then I wouldn't be able to use automatic camera-based selection, which is one of the only things I like about 2017!

    Also, I'm not sure what you mean by "save instead of copy".

    I mean I get a "this file is being saved with a student version of maya" message when I hit ctrl+c. Turns out it's working as intended and Maya just saves a temp file somewhere when you copy something, it's just misleading because it's the same dialog box you get with ctrl+S. The save message is reason enough to abandon copy entirely and just use duplicate. 

    I was able to solve the freeze/unfreeze problem by selecting the mesh in the outliner, and exporting it as an OBJ, and then reimporting it.

    I don't mean to be flip but I consider "export and reimport" to be a non-solution, along with  "delete the prefs folder" and "reinstall Maya". If this were a rigged mesh or part of a hierarchy I'd be boned, but even if it's not I stand to waste a ton of time if I have to export and re-import every time something goes wrong. 

    I guess there's an underlying question here, which is "Why does anyone put up with this mess?" I never resorted to workarounds like this even when I was learning Blender, and if I did it was because I misunderstood the program. Maya is by far the most unstable software I've ever used. I can understand why it's an industry standard (easy to customize, preferred by tech artists and animators) but what I don't get is why so many 3D artists go along with it.

  • Bartalon
    Offline / Send Message
    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    pixelb said:

    Maya Gripes

    (I'm using Maya 2017, latest version)

    [BUG] I actually like the viewcube. It's the only thing that navigates the scene the way I like, by snapping to ortho views without changing the camera. Too bad Autodesk stopped supporting it years ago. It doesn't work with viewport 2.0, it's not hotkeyable, and worst of all, it toggles off any time you use half the commands in the modeling toolbox.

    You can hold down the space bar to bring up the Hotbox.  If you click and hold on the center Maya button, you get quick access to all orthographic views.  It's not the Viewcube, but it prevents having to swap between viewports constantly.


    [BUG] On a fresh install, Maya will sometimes save instead of copy. This has happened to me twice on educational licences, and I know no fix for it other than to reinstall.
    A friend explained that Maya is actually saving a file when you copy, which is why I get the "this file is being saved with a student version of Maya" popup. It is still super confusing and annoying that you have to close the popup every time you copy. 

    Maya saves any objects you copy to some file somewhere, which Maya uses as a permanent storage for the most recently copied object.  This means the object you copy is not just stored in your computer's clipboard so you can open new scenes or come back after a crash or reboot or weeks down the road and still be able to paste whatever the last object was that you copied.

    If you don't want to deal with the educational prompt (which can be quickly cleared by tapping the space bar), use Edit > Duplicate instead.


    [BUG] You can't hotkey ctrl+W? You can try, but the hotkey won't work?? This is just a thing that's broken???

    Yep that's a bug.  You can map 7 hotkeys to each letter, so just work around it.  There are plenty of keys to go 'round.

    • Ctrl W
    • Alt W
    • Shift W
    • Ctrl Alt W
    • Ctrl Shift W
    • Alt Shift W
    • Ctrl Alt Shift W

    [ANNOYING] Looks like custom shelves aren't saved if Maya crashes? There's no way to save them manually short of quitting Maya and restarting?

    Maya will accept adjustments to your settings immediately, but doesn't write the changes to a file until Maya either shuts down correctly, or you tell it to save the settings using File > Save Preferences (or in the case of your shelves, the Save All Shelves option from the shelf options found to the left of the shelf).


    [ANNOYING] Middle mouse zooms out in bigger increments than it zooms in. I read that alt+left mouse is the "correct" way to zoom, but I like zooming in increments. Why keep middle mouse zoom around if you're not going to make it usable?

    Every modeling kit is going to have different camera navigation and zoom response.  Better to just accept it and deal with that fact :)


    [ANNOYING] Extrude works differently based on component type. I want to be able to extrude an edge even if I have two verts selected. 

    A lot of Maya's tools are context sensitive.  If you're picking two verts with the expectation that the adjoining edge will be extruded, just pick the edge instead.


    [ANNOYING] You can't change the decimal precision of the modeling toolkit to more than two places, even though the rest of Maya defaults to three.

    floatField -e -precision 3 transformXField;
    floatField -e -precision 3 transformYField;
    floatField -e -precision 3 transformZField;

    Finally, deleting the userPrefs file or reinstalling Maya are almost never the solution to problems.  In nearly every case of "Maya's doing this weird thing" or "Maya keeps crashing" it comes down to plain and simple user error, or a bug that's inherent to the software that cannot be remedied (something that is understandably not expected to be known by the user without being told).

    Maya gives the user a LOT of freedom with what it allows you to do to a mesh.  Because of this, it can be very destructive to your models and in some cases can be prone to causing crashes.  But it's not really Maya's fault.  You just need to learn how the software works and develop some best practices for working with it so you don't break it.  Would you blame xNormal for producing a bad normal map, or would it be much more likely that everything was a result of user error?  I can safely say that at least 3/4 of your complaints are just because you're unfamiliar with the software and you're trying to compare it 1:1 with how Blender works.

    Takeaway:  If you expect to turn Maya into Blender, you're going to have a bad time.  All software have pros and cons, and require different approaches to deal with the task at hand simply because of how the tools work for that particular program.  Every modeling pack is going to have great things and shitty things compared to other modeling packs.  Figure out how to play off Maya's strengths rather than fixating on how it's not doing the thing exactly like how Software B does it.
  • throttlekitty
    Offline / Send Message
    throttlekitty Polycount Sponsor
    I have the split tool assigned to ctrl-w, I don't recall having to do anything special to get that to work, I'll post back if I can think of something. Agreed that's super annoying about the preferences; I've never understood why the save button in the prefs doesn't write to the file. (or at least give us a button for it there instead of the file menu) I think Bartalon answered pretty much everything here. I really can't think of any videos aside from Timeslip, I don't spend much time watching others work. Whenever I do, it seems like I land on a newbie stumbling through the UI to get anything done.

     I forgot about the make hole tool, having had written that one off for being messy. Looking at the docs, I may use it once in a while now. The upside is that you can use it a little like a boolean using a face to cut with, but the downside is that the hole must fall within the bounds of the face to be cut. Or for punching through to an opposing face. It's one of the few/only(?) tools that will create a floating edge like your scene shows. Generally easier to just delete faces and bridge the edges.

    In comparison to Blender, Maya can't do floating edges or vertices; an edge must always be resolvable to at least a triangle. So when we want to do any kind of outline/patch modeling, we typically use curves lofted or extruded into polygons. Or say a hallway with an "M" shape, we may just make a big nasty n-gon and extrude the face.
  • pixelb
    Offline / Send Message
    pixelb polycounter lvl 6
    You can hold down the space bar to bring up the Hotbox.  If you click and hold on the center Maya button, you get quick access to all orthographic views.  It's not the Viewcube, but it prevents having to swap between viewports constantly.

    Still not great. I like being able to tumble my ortho views, which quickly makes panel swapping worthless. I expect the response here will be "Why would you ever tumble orthos?" I do it because Maya lets me, and it would be a nice way to work if the viewcube weren't broken!

    A lot of Maya's tools are context sensitive.  If you're picking two verts with the expectation that the adjoining edge will be extruded, just pick the edge instead.

    You're right, it's a nitpick. I'm just bummed nobody's made a script for this yet.

    floatField -e -precision 3 transformXField;
    floatField -e -precision 3 transformYField;
    floatField -e -precision 3 transformZField;

    Beautiful, added to my shelf. Now can I make Maya initialize that way?

    Maya gives the user a LOT of freedom with what it allows you to do to a mesh.  Because of this, it can be very destructive to your models and in some cases can be prone to causing crashes.  But it's not really Maya's fault.

    I don't buy that. I've used Blender and Max, and from what I can tell neither is more limited in what you can do with meshes, but both are much more stable. If xNormal had a lot of catches where it broke if you bake maps in the wrong order, or if you try to bake AO and matID at the same time, I'd complain about it too.

    Figure out how to play off Maya's strengths rather than fixating on how it's not doing the thing exactly like how Software B does it.

    So what are Maya's strengths? Please, tell me. I'm desperately trying to figure it out but people are more interested in asking what my problems are and then telling me to suck it up. 

  • pixelb
    Offline / Send Message
    pixelb polycounter lvl 6
    In comparison to Blender, Maya can't do floating edges or vertices; an edge must always be resolvable to at least a triangle

    I noticed that. I miss working with floating edges, but I can deal. I guess the takeaway is if I see a floating edge, it's time to ctrl+x the heck out of there. 

  • huffer
    Offline / Send Message
    huffer polycounter lvl 7
    You can tumble the orthos by enabling ortho rotation in the camera attribute editor (if I remember right), and rotate the viewport like you normally would a Persp View, I think you might be able to snap rotation to 90 degrees, making it Zbrush-esque.

    The bad part, your views will get horribly broken after a while, and you'll end up copying everything into a new scene to fix them.

    Option #2, how I usually do it: go in perspective, select top, front, or left camera, snap rotate it 90 or 180 degrees. Extremely slow, but the only way to avoid issues (approaches like this are sometimes the best idea with Maya). Using the hotbox controls will break my views after a while.

    3dsMax IS more limited when it comes to what you can do with a mesh, in the sense that Maya allows non-manifold geometry and other weird things that you'll have to fix later and that will crash your scenes. So you have to be really careful to avoid situations that create non-manifold geometry, there are many cases, and you'll learn them in time.

    Modeling wise, Maya can do some things better, like snapping. The usual, to vertex, edge, etc, is much faster, but you can also temporarily put pivots on sub-selections and align them, pretty useful to snap things together. If you make use of the marking menus, you have faster access to tools.
  • Joopson
    Offline / Send Message
    Joopson Polycount Sponsor
    pixelb said:

    So what are Maya's strengths? Please, tell me. I'm desperately trying to figure it out but people are more interested in asking what my problems are and then telling me to suck it up. 

    I mean, you seem so negative about everything in Maya; it may just not be the right software for you.

    I know for me, it works the same way my brain works. I open Max and I feel like I have to jump through hoops and do things in an order I don't want to do them in. That's not a fault with Max. My brain just prefers the workflow of Maya more. And as I've said, Maya is super stable for me, especially as I've gotten better acquainted with it. Max hasn't done the same for me. I realized it wasn't for me and moved on.
  • pixelb
    Offline / Send Message
    pixelb polycounter lvl 6
    I'm sure it's not, but I don't have the luxury of choosing. I've already been in twice in situations where I've been asked to use Maya, and as much as I dislike it, I won't be the person who refuses to use it. There are enough studios that are Maya only that it's wise to get better at it than I am now.

    I've noticed Maya has somewhat better normals options be default, and with the nightshade UV editor it's exceptionally good at managing texel density, but it still has a lot of drawbacks. Nonmanifold weirdness being a big one, apparently.
Sign In or Register to comment.