Star Wars LightSaber << Part 1 >> Maya Modeling Tutorial

Lightsaber-3dstud
PART  1 PART  2 PART  3 PART  4 PART  5 PART  6 PART  7 PART  8
 
The Lightsaber tutorial is a simple entry level Autodesk Maya modeling tutorial  and assumes that you have basic navigational and editing skills prior to attempting this tutorial. 
 
Before you start to model anything, you need to research what it actually looks like. Find as many references as you can, close-ups, different angles, materials, action shot, and anything else you can find. Ideally you to try to find blueprints or orthographic views, but that does not always happen. In this particular case I even bought a light saber replica, but wasn't the most accurate. Anything you find could help, some times I end up looking for more as I get to trickier areas. I always create a folder and dump all the images find there. Basically you need to find tons of reference images or take your own.   There is no rule of thumb for the number of images; you just need the appropriate number for what you are making.  With that said, try to find at least 20 good images.
 
Collect Images and save them to a folder! You will need later for the modeling process.  Make sure you also get the blueprint.
 
 
PART 1: PROJECT FOLDER & IMAGE PLANES
 
Organization is very important, particularly when you work on a team and you usually are. Even if you are working by yourself, you will find that your projects can become huge and labeling is essential. So it is really important to keep organized, name objects in the scene and create a project folder to organize all your assets. 
 

Let’s first start by creating a project folder.   A project folder is a way to keep all your files associated to the project all in one place; basically it is a folder of folders.  It also makes it easy to transport and share the project with others.

INTIAL SETUP

  • Start a new project. File > Project Window
  • Name project Lightsaber, set location to desktop or your personal drive, choose Use Defaults and then Accept.
  • Browse and set Location: where you want it to be saved. (Ex: Documents?)
  • Now we have to assign or ‘Set’ the project to our file. File > Set Project and then browse to find the folder you just created and press Set.

SETTING UP IMAGES PLANES

To simplify this lesson, I provided a blueprint that I laid out from reference images and existing blueprints. First we have to bring import the main reference image or blueprint.

If you just opened Maya, you are probably in the perspective window by default; tap the {Space bar} and it will switch to the four panel view. Move your mouse over the front view and tap {Space bar} to open just a single front view. The space bar allows you to toggle between single and multi-view and this works with any window type. If you hold space bar longer, it will also bring up the marking menu; we will talk about that later.

In the ‘front’ Panel View Menu, go to View > Image Plane > Import Image browse and find the Light Saber blueprint.

- BLUEPRINT -

ImagePlaneThe image should come in centered on the x-axis.  With the image plane still selected, we are going to move it from its default location (0, 0, 0).   Switch to the Channel Box – {Ctrl + a} this toggles between the attribute editor and the channel box. If you happen to deselect the image plane, you can bring back the attributes by selecting the image plane. 

The first thing we are going to do is move the image plane back in the Center Z direction. This pushes the it back in the Z direction and places it behind the grid, your model, and your workspace. In the Channel Box change Center Z to -20. I use -20 because generally it is large enough to push it back out of way.


The blueprint image was pre-centered horizontally (in the x-axis) but we have to move it vertically in the Y direction. Select the image plane attributes and then switch to the Channel Box, highlight the words Center Y and with the middle mouse button depressed drag the mouse left and right until the bottom of the saber sets on 0 on the grid. I zoomed in really close for accuracy and then ended up using 4.77 for the Center Y position. Yours might be different, the key is to zoom in really close.  *You can also manually type it in.

 

MAKE REFERENCE CUBE: In the FRONT VIEW, create a reference cube, scale it and move it appropriately as shown below. 

 

Capture0004

In the Side View, import the blueprint again. 

In the side view under the Panel View Menu, go to View > Image Plane > Import Image browse and find the Lightsaber blueprint again.

*Remember you are moving the image plane not the cube.

With the image plane still selected, we are going to move it from its default location (0, 0, 0). The first thing we are going to do is move the image plane back in the Center X direction. I use –20, this pushes the it back in the X direction and places it behind the grid and your workspace. Switch to the Channel Box – {Ctrl + a} this toggles between the attribute editor and the channel box. If you happen to deselect the image plane, you can bring back the attributes by selecting the image plane.

The blueprint image was pre-centered horizontally, but we have to move it vertically in the Y direction again. Select the image plane attributes and then switch to the Channel Box, set Center Y to the same value as the Center Y in the front view  4.77 units. Yours might be different, the key is to zoom in really close.  IT SHOULD BE THE SAME AS THE CENTER Y IN THE FRONT VIEW.

This time center the blueprint to the Activation Plate.  I moved the image Center Z direction 4.195 units.  See image.   You can also see that I scaled the cube to line up with the width of the Activation Plate by scaling it in the Z-Direction.

Capture0005

 

In the Top View, import the blueprint again. 

In the top view under the Panel View Menu, go to View > Image Plane > Import Image browse and find the Light Saber blueprint again.

*Remember you are moving the image plane not the cube.

With the image plane still selected, we are going to move it until it lines up with the cube.  The first thing we are going to do is move the image plane back in the Center Y direction.  I use –20 , this pushes the it back in the Y-direction and places it behind the grid and your workspace.  Switch to the Channel Box – {Ctrl + a} this toggles between the attribute editor and the channel box. If you happen to deselect the image plane, you can bring back the attributes by selecting the image plane.

Move the image plane to line up exactly the way we did it with the front view.  This time  we are line it up with the cube we made.  I moved the image Center Z-direction 0.205 units.  Everything else seemed to line up.  See image.

 

Capture0006

They should be placed like this . . .

Image-Planes3

 

Lastly, I always hide the image planes from the perspective window; I feel they just get in the way in this view.     In the perspective window,  uncheck Show > Image Planes.   AND the reference cube we will use later for the control box.