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Creating a Lava Lamp in Maya 2009

By Kristina Johnson
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Date Added: 10th November 2009
Software used:
Maya
LMB double-click the Select tool. Uncheck the Soft Select option. Select individual rows of vertices and use the Translate and Scale tools to adjust the shape of pBase so that it resembles the image below.  Select the top two rows of vertices and uniformly scale them down by 90% (Fig.08).

112_tid_maya_lava_lamp_tutorial_08.jpg
Fig. 08

The base of the lava lamp needs to be at least partially hollow. In a real lava lamp the bottle rests in the base, which also contains a light bulb and other electrical parts.

RMB click on the pBase and select Object Mode from the pop-up menu. If some vertices on pBase are still highlighted, LMB click in a blank area of the viewport, and then LMB click on pBase to select it again.

RMB click on pBase and select Faces. In the perspective viewport, select the faces on the top end of pBase. This can be done by dragging a box around a group of faces. Selected faces are highlighted in an orange color. There may be some unwanted faces in the selection. Hold down the CTRL key on the keyboard and LMB click to remove faces from the selection. Alternately, there may be faces that must be added to the selection. Hold down the SHIFT key and LMB click to add faces to the selection.
With the faces selected, go to Edit Mesh > Extrude. Click on the Attribute Editor icon so that all the options for Extrude can be seen. The Attribute Editor is the icon on the left (Fig.09).

112_tid_maya_lava_lamp_tutorial_09.jpg
Fig. 09

In the Attribute Editor, look down the list to the Poly Extrude Face History rollout. Set the Offset value to 0.1. The top of pBase should now resemble the image below (Fig.10).

112_tid_maya_lava_lamp_tutorial_10.jpg
Fig. 10

If the mesh has done something crazy, undo the last step and make sure that the Keep Faces Together option at the top of the Edit Mesh menu list is checked, then repeat the steps above.

Go to Edit Mesh > Extrude. Select the Scale Tool. Scale the selected faces down so that they fit inside pBase. Select the Translate Tool. Move the selected faces down into pBase. The model should look similar to the image below. A few Scales and Translates may be required to adjust pBase (Fig.11).

112_tid_maya_lava_lamp_tutorial_11.jpg
Fig. 11

RMB click on pBase and select Object Mode. LMB click on a blank space in the viewport. The faces on the inside of pBase will appear faceted. To repair this effect, select the faces on the inside of pBase. Go to Normals > Set Normal Angle. In the pop-up box that appears, enter a value of 10.

Return to Object Mode and select the Perspective viewport. Create a test render of pBase. LMB click on the Render icon on the tool bar. The Render icon has an orange box around it in the image below (Fig.12).

112_tid_maya_lava_lamp_tutorial_12.jpg
Fig. 12

The test render should resemble the image below. It looks very plain and grey so far (Fig.13).

112_tid_maya_lava_lamp_tutorial_13.jpg
Fig. 13

LMB click pBase to select it. RMB click pBase and select the Assign New Material option from the list.  From the next list that appears, select Lambert. The Attribute Editor for the new lambert shader will appear. A lambert shader will allow a flat color to be applied to the model.

Rename the lambert shader to "baseLambert". LMB click on the Color swatch. A color picker will appear. Select a color for pBase. This temporary color will be replaced with a shiny metal later on.

Save your work!


Modeling the Glass Bottle Middle Section

Switch to the perspective viewport.

Go to Create > Polygon Primitives > Cylinder. LMB click in the perspective window and drag to create the base of the cylinder. Release the mouse button, and then click and drag again to give the cylinder some height. Any cylinder dimensions are OK at this point.

For the next step the cylinder will need to be selected. LMB click on it and see that it is highlighted. On the right side of the Maya window, the Attribute Editor is currently displayed. Select the polyCylinder2 tab. Set the radius value to 6.5, the height value to 26, the subdivisions axis value to 32 and the subdivisions height value to 2.

Click on the pCylinder1 tab. Set all of the Translate values to 0.0, 23, 0.0. This re-positions the cylinder in 3D space.
In the text box at the top of the panel, rename "pCylinder1" to be "pMiddle".

LMB click pMiddle to select it and then RMB click pMiddle and select the Assign New Material option from the list. From the next list that appears, select Lambert. The Attribute Editor for the new lambert shader will appear. A lambert shader will allow a flat color to be applied to the model.

Rename the lambert shader to "middleLambert". LMB click on the Color swatch. A color picker will appear. Select a color for pMiddle. This temporary color will be replaced with a glass material later on.

Switch to the front viewport. RMB click on pMiddle. Select Vertex from the pop-up menu. LMB click and drag to select the middle row of vertices on pMiddle. Go to the Y text box in the top right hand corner of the Maya window and enter the value 15. This will move all those vertices to Y=15 on the y-axis of the 3D world (Fig.14).

112_tid_maya_lava_lamp_tutorial_14.jpg
Fig. 14

LMB click and drag to select the bottom row of vertices and scale them down so that pMiddle appears to rest in pBase. LMB click and drag to select the top row of vertices and scale them down by 40%.

The lava lamp model should now look like the image below (Fig.15).

112_tid_maya_lava_lamp_tutorial_15.jpg
Fig. 15

Modeling the Top Cap

Switch to the perspective viewport.

Create a cylinder. Follow the steps given previously and set the values as follows:

  • Radius value to 3
  • Height value to 5
  • Subdivisions axis value to 32
  • Leave the subdivisions height value set at 1.

Set all of the Translate values to 0.0, 38, 0.0 to re-position the cylinder in 3D space and in the text box at the top of the panel, rename "pCylinder1" to be "pCap".

As before, switch to the front viewport. RMB click on pCap. Select Vertex from the pop-up menu. LMB click and drag to select the top row of vertices on pCap. Scale the top row of vertices down by 70%. Select the Scale Tool, and drag to scale the vertices or enter the values X=0.7, Y=1.0 and Z=0.7 in the text boxes in the top right hand corner of the Maya window.

Move pCap downwards along the y-axis by selecting the Translate Tool and dragging on the up arrow (green axis). Move pCap until it appears to be resting on pMiddle.

The next steps describe how to hollow out the inside of pCap. Go to the perspective viewport and select pCap and move it away from the rest of the lava lamp. RMB click pCap and select Face from the pop-up menu. Select all the faces on the bottom of pCap. Check that no other faces are selected accidentally and then go to Edit Mesh > Extrude. Set the Offset value to 0.1 and leave all the other values as they are.

Go back to Edit Mesh > Extrude (or press g on the keyboard to repeat the last action). Grab the blue arrow handle of the Extrude tool and move the newly created (extruded) faces all of the way inside the cap. Using the Scale Tool, scale the faces so that they fit inside pCap.

Below is a wireframe image of pCap, with the inside cap end highlighted in orange. To see objects in wireframe mode, press the number 4 on the keyboard. Press 6 to return to shaded mode (Fig.16).

112_tid_maya_lava_lamp_tutorial_16.jpg
Fig. 16



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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
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(ID: 234513, pid: 0) Sofia on Mon, 18 November 2013 1:36am
Great tutorial! I followed it and learned a lot, thank you!
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(ID: 91487, pid: 0) Writer650 on Wed, 07 March 2012 9:43pm
Very nice tutorial with some very terrific material settings.
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