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Introduction to Maya: Learn the Maya User Interface (UI)

By Jahirul Amin
Web: Open Site
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Date Added: 12th June 2013
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In this series we'll be taking a comprehensive look at all of the basic elements of Maya, starting with the user interface and the general tools. If you're a newcomer to this software, then this series will be an invaluable read!

The following tutorials are currently available:

1. Learn the Maya User Interface (UI)
2. General Tools
3. Polygons, NURBs and Sub-Ds
4. Modeling: Polygonal Modeling Theory

Learn the Maya User Interface (UI)

In this tutorial we're going to get to know Maya's interface. On first opening Maya, things can feel a little daunting, so we're going to break the UI down into chewable chunks.

Along the way we'll take in a few keyboard shortcuts, which can greatly increase your efficiency. It's important to stress that it's always possible to approach a task in a number of ways, so don't be afraid to press a few buttons to see what happens. If the UI blows up, you can always reset your preferences and/or get the kettle on!


Step 1: Maya Interface Breakdown

When first opening Maya, you will be presented with something as illustrated in the image - without the pretty colours, of course.

Here is a quick breakdown of the highlighted regions:

a) Menu bar
b) Status bar
c) Shelves
d) Viewport Panel bar
e) Toolbox
f) Window configuration
g) Channel Box
h) Layer Editor
i) Timeline and Playback Controls
j) Time Range and Character Sets
k) Command Line and Script Editor
l) Workspace
m) Viewcube
n) View Axis
o) World-space Origin
p) Grid
q) Indicates the view you're currently in

As Maya's Interface has been built using the Qt framework, it is very easy to customise. For starters, most of the menus have a dotted line running alongside them; this allows you to cut the menu from its original position and place it somewhere else. You can also take this further by using Qt Designer to create your own custom UI.

A quick breakdown of the initial Maya interface

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