Load the file ball_v04.mb from the Bouncing_Ball project on the CD to see an example.
Although the bouncing of this ball looks okay, it could definitely use some finesse, a little
timing change, and so on. Open the file, open the Graph Editor, and edit the file to get a
feel for how the ball bounces.
Throwing an Axe
This next project will exercise your use of hierarchies and introduce you to creating and
refining motion to achieve proper animation for a more complex scene than the bouncing
ball. The work flow is simple but standard for properly setting up a scene for animation,
also known as rigging, especially for more complex objects, as you will see later in this and
the next chapter when we rig the locomotive for animation. First, you’ll model an axe and
a target, and then you’ll set up the grouping and pivots for how you want to animate.
Then you’ll throw!
Why won’t you throw the NURBS axe you’ve already created and textured? Because
later in this chapter you’ll need it for an exercise on importing and replacing an object in
Maya while keeping the animation intact.
The Preproduction Process
To begin the animation right away, you’ll create a basic axe, focusing on the animation
and the technique. To this end, connect to the Internet if you can, and look up axes and
the art of axe throwing to get more familiar with the task at hand. You will also need to
create a simple bull’s-eye target at which to throw your axe, so look for some references
for a target as well.
Create a new project; choose File
New. Place this project in the same folder
or drive as your other projects, and call it Axe. Click the Defaults button to fill in the rest
and click Accept. Click the Animation Preferences button, and set the frames per second
to 30fps. Later, you’ll replace this simple axe with a finer NURBS axe model to learn how
to properly replace objects and transfer animation in Maya.
Setting Up the Scene
To get started, model the axe and target from primitives and set up their grouping and
pivots. Once your scene is set up properly, you will animate. It’s important to a healthy
workflow that you make sure the scene is set up well before you begin animating.
Making the Axe
The axe will be made of two polygon primitives, a cylinder and a cube. Follow these steps:
1. Choose Create
Polygon Primitives
Cube . Set Width Divisions to 4, and click
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2. Call this axe_head.
3. Choose Create
Polygon Primitives
Cylinder to create a cylinder to be the handle
for your axe, and call it handle.
4. Scale the cylinder so that it’s about
2 unit across and about 14 units tall.
5. Move the cube to the top of the cylinder, leaving just a little of the tip showing,
and scale it so that it’s about 3 units high and 4 units wide in the front view. (See
Figure 8.9.)
6. Scale the cube in the Z-axis so that it’s just a little thicker than the handle.
7. To put a sharp edge on the axe, go into Component mode (F8) and select the four
vertices on the very end of the cube.
Press R to activate the Scale tool.
Scale the vertices down in the Z axis to a sharp edge, and scale them slightly up in
the Y-axis.
Select the next four vertices in from the edge. Scale them down in the X-axis
about halfway, and scale them slightly up in the Y-axis. (See Figure 8.10.)
8. Press F8 to get back into Object mode, and select both pieces.
9. Choose Edit
Group to group the pieces into one hierarchy, and call it axe.
Most animation work does not depend on precise measurements. The key is using propor-
tions and relative sizes. You can almost always use Maya’s generic units (which are set to cen-
timeters by default). The scope of your project will determine if greater precision is necessary.
Figure 8.9
Placing the axe’s
head on the handle
324 chapter 8: Introduction to Animation
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