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Creating a Lava Lamp in Maya 2009

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Date Added: 10th November 2009
Software used:
To move pCap back to the top of the lava lamp, open the Channel Box by clicking on the icon on the right. Change the Translate X and Translate Z values to 0. The Channel Box icon is shown in the image below, and can be found in the top right corner of the Maya window (Fig.17).

Fig. 17

Create a test render. Frame the lava lamp in the perspective viewport and click the render icon on the tool bar. This icon has an orange box drawn around it in the image below (Fig.18).

Fig. 18

Below is an image of the lava lamp so far. This is not a very exciting or interesting looking lava lamp yet, but the basics are there (Fig.19).

Fig. 19

Creating Layers for Each Part of the Model

Next, layers will be created for each part of the lava lamp model. The visibility of the layers can be turned on and off, so that each part of the lava lamp can be seen by itself. This will be useful when applying some extra details to parts of the model.

Open the Channel Box. The icon for the Channel Box is located in the top right hand corner of the Maya window, and is the icon on the right in the image below (Fig.20).

Fig. 20

When the Channel Box first opens, the Layers part of the window may not be displayed. It is possible to have only channels displayed, only layers displayed, or a split screen of both. To see the split screen mode, click on the icon on the right in the image below (Fig.21).

Fig. 21

Select pCap by LMB clicking on it in the perspective viewport. Then click on the Create a new layer and assign selected objects icon, which is the yellow cog and blue sphere button in the image below (Fig.22).

Fig. 22

Double click on the default layer name, layer1. A pop-up window will appear. Name the layer "l_cap". Choose any color. Click the Save button. The visibility of the layer l_cap can be turned on and off by clicking on the letter V, shown at the left hand side of the image above.

Create layers for the other objects in the scene. Call them "l_middleGlass" and "l_base". Turn off visibility for l_middleGlass and l_cap. Select pBase and then press F on the keyboard to zoom in on the pBase object.

Adding Details to the Base

To start, more thickness will be added to the slight edge around the bottom of pBase.

Select pBase by LMB clicking on it. Go to Edit Mesh > Insert Edge Loop Tool. LMB click on pBase just above the second lowest mesh line, as shown in the image below. Press Q on the keyboard to exit from the Insert Edge Loop Tool(Fig.23).

Fig. 23

Use the Translate Tool to move the new edge loop just created into position. Then use the Scale Tool to make this new edge loop the same dimensions as the one below it. An easy way to know if the two are the same size is if there is a straight line of mesh between them, shown as the red line in the close up image below (Fig.24).

Fig. 24

RMB click on pBase and select Object Mode to finish editing the edges of pBase. In the Layers section of the Channel Box, click on the V next to l_base to hide pBase. Then, still in the Layers section of the Channel Box, click on the V next to l_cap to show pCap.

RMB click on pCap and select Face from the pop-up menu. Select all of the faces on the top of pCap and go to Edit Mesh > Extrude. Open the Attribute Editor. In the Poly Extrude Face History section of the window set values as shown in the image below (Fig.25).

Fig. 25

pCap should now have a tidy bevelled edge on its top, as shown in the image below (Fig.26).

Fig. 26

Modeling Some Blobs

Make all of the layers visible again, so that the whole lava lamp model can be seen. LMB click to select pMiddleGlass. RMB click and then select Material Attributes from the pop-up menu. The Attribute Editor will open, displaying all of the Material Attributes of the Lambert shader applied to pMiddleGlass.

Move the Transparency slider about 75% of the way across the slider, to make pMiddleGlass a see-through object in the viewports. pMiddleGlass will now also render as transparent, although it won't look very good at this point.

Make sure the perspective viewport is active then go to Create > Polygon Primitives > Sphere. LMB click in the viewport and drag to create the sphere.

Go to the Attribute Editor on the right hand side of the Maya window. Open the tab called "polySphere1" and set the values as follows:

  • Radius value to 2.0
  • Subdivisions Axis to 32
  • Subdivisions Height to 32

Open the pSphere1 tab. Rename "pSphere1" to "pBlob1". Using the Translate Tool and one or more viewports, move pBlob1 so that it is inside pMiddleGlass. Then open the Deformation tab at the centre top of the Maya window (Fig.27).

Fig. 27

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
Nicole on Thu, 30 October 2014 2:34am
This tutorial is awesome . Most of the other tutorials are a bit hard to follow because they are fast paced or the artist speaks in a manner that is even hard for an educated person to understand , (unless you are a computer or math wizard ). Thank you so very much .
Sofia on Mon, 18 November 2013 1:36am
Great tutorial! I followed it and learned a lot, thank you!
Writer650 on Wed, 07 March 2012 9:43pm
Very nice tutorial with some very terrific material settings.
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