Modeling ​against reference images in Autodesk Maya

  • Make sure the layer containing the reference is marked as a reference (Small R in the 3rdbox) so that we don’t accidentally move or edit the NURB planes which contain the images.
  • If the desired model is symmetrical, you only need to model 1 half, and then mirror to work once that half is complete, saving time.
  • Start with the most basic shape you can, and then use the Maya tools to model into the desired shape.
  • It may be easier to switch to the front or side view to begin (remember to do this hit space, move your cursor over the desired view and hit space again to switch to that view)
  • Start with basic, rough shapes, try to think forward and imagine modelling moves in advance
  • Rather than using the mouse to modify size in the workspace, you can use the attribute editor to adjust the dimensions of any shape using sliders or entering specific values.
  • Likewise you can use the sliders or values in the attribute editor to add divisions, enabling more detail, this depends on the complexity of the target model
  • Before actually starting any modelling make sure you enable x-ray mode, to do this select ‘shading’ > ‘X-ray’ (workspace top menu) This will make the reference image and the model transparent, making it easier to trace edges.
  • Switching views is vital to good modelling using reference images, as movements are limited to axis, not anywhere in 3D space.