WEEK 01: Reading Project Window / Autosave a file / Open recently saved files / 3D coordinates / ViewCube / Polygon Primitives / Duplicate Special / Group / / / /


Notes:: Please refer to Maya Help Menu (F1)

NOTE: You must be very specific and very descriptive when naming objects, layers, and files of your projects in Maya 3D program.

Project Window : Lets you create new Maya projects, set the location of project files, and change the names and locations of existing projects.

Current Project:
Displays the project name.
Click New to create a new project.
Displays the location of a the current project. When you create a new project, click the  browse icon to navigate to the location you want to use for your project files.
Primary Project Locations
Lists the current primary project directories. When you create a new project, Maya creates these directories by default. Primary project locations provide directories for essential project data such as scene files, texture files, and rendered image files.

You can change the default name and location of primary project locations by selecting the icon and navigating to the new location.


Autosave a file: To save your scene automatically in timed intervals

    • Select Window > Settings/Preferences > Preferences.
    • In the Categories, under the Settings section, select Files/Projects.
    • In the Autosave section, turn on Enable.
    • Set any additional options and click the Save button.

Open recently saved files: To open a Maya scene file that was recently saved, do one of the following

  • Select File > Recent Files and click the name of the file you want from the list that appears.
  • Right-click the Open a Scene icon on the Status Line and choose the name of the file from the list of recently opened files that appears.

Note The number of files that appear in this list can be customized using the Files/Projects preferences found in the Preferences dialog box. For descriptions of the File/Projects preferences, see Files/Projects preferences.


3D coordinates

The most basic visual entity is the point. The point has no size, but it has a location.

To determine the location of points, we first establish an arbitrary point in space as the origin.

We can then say a point's location is so many units left (or right) of the origin, so many units up (or down) from the origin, and so many units higher (or lower) than the origin.

These three numbers give us the 3D coordinates of the point in space. For example, a point 7 units right (x), 4 units down (z), and 3 units above (y) the origin has the XYZ coordinates (7,4,3).

To specify points on the opposite side of the origin, we use negative numbers. In the example, a point at (-5, -2, -1) would be 5 units left of the origin, 2 units up, and 1 unit below.

In computer graphics, we don't really say the point is "left/right", "up/down", or "higher/lower". Instead we call the three dimensions the X axis, the Z axis, and the Y axis.

 X axis is in Red Color, the Z axis is in Green Color, and the Y axis is in Blue color.


The ViewCube is on by default in the scene views. You can turn off the ViewCube and edit options for the ViewCube by selecting Window > Settings/Preferences > Preferences, and selecting the ViewCube category.


The ViewCube™ is an on-screen 3D navigation element that:

  • provides feedback about the current camera view in relation to the 3D scene.
  • lets you quickly and easily switch between scene views.

The ViewCube appears in the upper-right corner of the scene view as a cube with its individual faces labelled to indicate the camera view in relation to the 3D scene.

The default camera view in Maya is the Perspective view, a standard three-quarter view with a perspective projection. As the camera view is adjusted, the ViewCube updates to reflect the camera’s current orientation in relation to the 3D scene.

Clicking on a particular face of the cube automatically adjusts the camera’s view so it matches that face. The viewing camera animates in real-time during the transition between views so you can see how the orientation of the camera changes in relation to the 3D scene. Clicking on the edges or corners of the ViewCube adjusts the camera view to positions that are in-between the face views. Clicking on the Home icon resets the camera’s position to the default perspective view.


In total, 26 standard views are available by clicking on the various cube elements (6 face views, 8 corner views, and 12 edge views).

The ViewCube can also be dragged and snapped to different positions other than the fixed views providing many other viewing options. The ViewCube outlines are drawn with a dashed line style when this occurs.

When you position the mouse pointer over the ViewCube, regions of the cube appear highlighted. The highlighted areas of the cube (faces, corners, and edges) indicate the view that will be selected when you click your mouse.

To change the scene view using the ViewCube

  1. Position your mouse pointer on the ViewCube so that the desired region is highlighted.
  2. Left-click on the highlighted region of the ViewCube. The scene view changes to match the point of view that corresponds to the region of the ViewCube you selected.

To reset the scene view using the ViewCube

  1. Click the Home button above the ViewCube.

    The camera returns to its default position. That is, clicking the Home button in the orthographic views (Front, Top, and Side) resets the views to their default camera positions. Clicking the Home button in the Perspective view resets the camera’s position to a three-quarter view with a perspective projection.

When viewing the scene in an orthographic view, four small arrows surrounding the ViewCube are used to rotate the camera to an adjacent orthographic view.

For example, when viewing the scene in the Front view, clicking the arrow to the right of the ViewCube changes the orthographic view so the scene is viewed from the right.

To view an adjacent orthographic view using the ViewCube

  1. In an orthographic view, click on any of the four arrows that appear around the ViewCube. These arrows represent the views adjacent to the current orthographic view. The orthographic view changes to match the adjacent orthographic view you selected on the ViewCube.

When viewing the scene in an orthographic view, two curved arrows appear in an arc shape adjacent to the ViewCube to control clockwise and counter-clockwise rotation (roll) of the scene view.

To roll an orthographic view using the ViewCube

  1. In the desired orthographic view, click on a curved roll arrow to roll the view in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction.

To tumble the scene view using the ViewCube

  1. Click-drag on the ViewCube in any direction to tumble the view.

    The scene view tumbles in relation to how you tumble the ViewCube. As you drag your mouse to tumble the ViewCube it attempts to snap to the closest pre-defined view.


This snapping behavior option can be turned off by selecting Window > Settings/Preferences > Preferences and turning off the Snapto closest view option.


To hide the display of the ViewCube in the scene views

You can control whether or not the ViewCube displays in the scene views using the ViewCube preferences editor.

  1. In the main menu, select Window > Settings/Preferences > Preferences and select the ViewCube category to display the preferences.
  2. To turn off the display of the ViewCube, select the Show the ViewCube item so that a check mark does not appear beside it.


Pick chooser

Note: It costs a group selection while selecting object components.

Pick chooser

When objects overlap in the view, lets you display a pop-up list of the objects so you can select them.  -click the overlap area to display the menu. The default is off. Your selection is highlighted in the scene view as you select an item in this list. Currently-selected items are marked with a box when the list appears. (This was formerly called Popup Menu selection.)

Expand popup list

If you turned on Expand Popup List, displays all the pop-up list of objects and everything underneath it in the hierarchy. The default is off.

Polygon Primitives:


The values you enter in these boxes change the primitive by adding or taking away faces of the polygonal surfaces.

Almost all primitives allow you to subdivide along the height axis. The exception is the helix, which subdivides per coil instead.

Primitives with radial symmetry allow you to subdivide around the axis. These include spheres, cylinders, cones, tori, pipes, and helixes.

Primitives with caps allow you to subdivide the caps. These include cylinder, cones, pipes and helixes.

The plane allows subdivisions along the width axis, and the cube allows subdivisions along both the width and depth.

Axis divisions

This option defines the number of subdivisions there are around the axis. This option is called Subdivisions Axis in the Channel Box and the Attribute Editor.

Increase or decrease this value to add or take away faces around the axis defined by the Axis option.
Height divisions:

This option defines the number of subdivisions there are along the axis defined by the Axis option. Height is equivalent to the Y direction by default. This option is called Subdivisions Height in the Channel Box and the Attribute Editor. Increase or decrease this value to add or take away faces in the Axis direction.

Depth / Width, Depth divisions:

When Axis is set to X or Y, depth is equivalent to the Z direction for polygonal cubes. When Axis is set to Z, depth is equivalent to the Y direction. This option is called Subdivisions Depth in the Channel Box and the Attribute Editor. Increase or decrease this value to add or take away faces along the depth.

Cap divisions:

Caps are the tops, bottoms, or sides of cones, cylinders, prisms, pyramids, pipes, and helixes. This option defines the number of subdivisions around the origin of the primitive caps. This option is called Subdivisions Cap in the Channel Box and the Attribute Editor. Increase or decrease this value to add or take away faces around the caps.

Round Cap:

This option allows you to create a round surface for the cap. Your Subdivisions Cap value must be one or greater to see the round cap effect. This option applies to the Cylinder,Cone, Pipe, and Helix primitives.


Duplicate Special

Creates one or more duplicates of the selection, optionally with transformations applied to each duplicate.

Edit > Duplicate Special >

Geometry Type :

Select how you want the selected object(s) duplicated.


Make a copy of the geometry being duplicated.


Create an instance of the geometry being duplicated. When you create an instance, you do not create actual copies of the selected geometry. Instead, Maya redisplays the geometry being instanced.

Group under:

Group objects under one of the following:


Groups the selected objects under their lowest common parent in the hierarchy.


Groups the selected objects under the world (at the top level of the hierarchy).

New Group

Create a new group node for the duplicates.

Smart Transform:

Turn Smart Transform on so that when you duplicate and transform a single copy or instance of the object (without changing the selection), Maya applies the same transformations to all subsequent duplicates of the selected duplicate.

Specify the offset values for X, Y, and Z. Maya applies these values to the copied geometry. You can position, scale, or rotate objects as Maya duplicates them.


The default for Translate and Rotate is 0.0000. The default for Scale is 1.0000. With the default values, Maya places the copy on top of the original geometry. You can specify offset values (positive or negative floating point) for translation, rotation, and scaling that are then applied to the copied geometry.

Number of Copies

Specify the number of copies to create. The range is from 1 to 1000.


As a shortcut for duplicating with Smart Transform on, use Edit > Duplicate with Transform.

Duplicate Input Graph

Turn this option on to force the duplication of all upstream nodes leading up to the selected object. Upstream nodes are defined as all nodes with connections feeding into selected nodes.

For example, if A, B, and C are the upstream nodes connecting to D...

A > B > C > D

...and you select D and use the Duplicate Input Graph option, the resultant graph is as follows:

A1 > B1 > C1 > D1

(where A1, B1, C1, and D1 are duplicates of A, B, C, and D respectively).

Duplicate Input Connections

Turn this option on so that in addition to duplicating the selected node, the connections feeding into the selected node are also duplicated.

For example, if A, B, and C are connections feeding into C...

A > B > C

...and you select C and use the Duplicate Input Connections option, then the resultant graph is as follows:

A > B > C and

A > B > C1

(where C1 is a duplicate of C).

Instance Leaf Nodes

Duplicate entire node hierarchies except for the leaf nodes, which are instanced to the original hierarchy. The new menu item is an improvement over the existing instance menu item, in that all dynamic attributes on the non-leaf nodes are properly duplicated into the new hierarchy.

Assign Unique Name to Child Nodes

The child node is renamed when the hierarchy is duplicated.



Edit > Group >

Group Under

Group objects under one of the following:


Groups the selected objects under their lowest common parent in the hierarchy. For example, selecting a single object and grouping puts the group node immediately above the selected object in the hierarchy.

Selecting objects that are in different hierarchies puts the group under the world since they don’t share a common parent.

Selecting objects in different parts of the same hierarchy puts the objects under their lowest common parent. If you go from each selected object, the new group will be placed under the first node containing all the selected objects.


Puts the new group under the world (at the top level of the hierarchy).

Group Pivot

Select where you want the pivot point for the group to be.


Puts the new group’s pivot point at the center of the bounding box of the grouped objects.


Puts the new group’s pivot point at the origin of the new group’s coordinate system.

Preserve Position

Turn this option on to modify the selected object’s matrix so that Maya preserves the overall world-space position of the object. If turned off, the matrix of grouped objects are changed and the object’s world-space position changes when grouped.