This is a continuation from the previous blog on Bouncing Ball Animation with Maya : 4 Factors to Create Good Animation. In beginner's guide to 3d animation, I'll explain from how to setup your computer with recommendations and brief introduction to using 3d software.
Before we start learning animation, we have some technical aspect to cover.
1. Operationg System (O/S)
Mac operating system (O/S) is generally more stable and processes much faster in graphics compared to Windows O/S. If you are using Windows O/S, just note that the Command Key is mapped as Control Key in Windows.
2. Maya Software
Maya Software is available in educational license at Autodesk website. If you are a student, they allow you to download an educational copy by registering with them. If you are not, you might want to borrow your friend’s copy to try it out before you purchase it. Maya is available for both Mac and Windows O/S.
3. Bouncing Ball Rig
4. Mouse Selection
I have to recommend buying a 3 button mouse with scrolling middle mouse button. 3D softwares needs 3 buttons for navigation so investing in a good mouse will gives you a piece of mind when animating. I’m currently using a wireless USB mouse by Logitech (Model M185) which I bought at about USD$25 and has been serving me very well for the past 1 year.
These 3 video tutorial covers the basic operations of using Autodesk Maya, including your hand position and mouse controls. This is a technical operation guide but it is also one of the most important thing that you learn to be efficient with your software operation.
5. Hand Position
Many students operates the software only with a mouse and while the other hand is not doing anything at all. This can seriously slow you down by more than 50% of your creation speed because there are many short cut keys you can use on your keyboard.
Make use of both your hands to create 3D animation. As a general guide, left hand is positioned on important keys such as Q,W,E,R and spacebar. Your right hand will be controlling the mouse for more intuitive navigation or viewport manupilation.
6. Viewing in 3D Space
3D environment can be something new to new learners and learning to navigate in the 3D space is very crucial. Creating 3D models or animations requires viewing of the object from various angle and this video will guide you to move around the 3D space with ease. Once you have mastered this basic viewing operation, your model and animation create will be less frustrating and more enjoyable.
The 3 most important ways to navigate in the 3D space is panning, rotating and zooming into the object you are working on. Make sure you practice these 3 basic navigation until you are very familiar with it before moving on.
7. Options Selection
There are many tools in Maya to create exciting models and animation. However, Maya is a sophisticated software with many tools located at different menus. When there are too many tools in a tool box, it can be difficult to look for the appropriate tool for your operation. This video guides shows you some of the common ways to look for your tools.
For quick options, right mouse click and hold on the 3D object will provide you with relevant operation tools. There are also more options available when you hold down either Command (Cmd), Control (Ctrl) and Shift before you click and hole your right mouse button to display the options.