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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Improving Workflow Using Hidden Marking Menus in Maya

I enjoy a smooth workflow and I rather memorize hotkeys to clicking 5 times to get somewhere. Maya has so many menus that it even has a "Find Menu..." feature! This beast of a program, has many hidden marking menus and I would like to share several with you.

When posing Stu's parts, there is no doubt you've used the Move Tool manipulator--if you were to visit the options panel for this tool, you will be able to see that you can switch the orientation of the tool from local/object to world space. At times, it might be easier to use one space over the other--but visiting the Tool Options is clumsy (for me), especially if all I need to do is get to a radio/toggle button.

Assuming your caps lock key is off*, you can press and hold q, w, e, or r to get marking menus for the selection, move, rotate, and scale tools, respectively. You can make gesture adjustments on the fly without leaving your workspace and even work in maximized viewport mode--that is, selecting your viewport and Ctrl+Spacing it.

For example, if you were to press w (to select the move manipulator), and then hold w and LMB drag the mouse to the left, you'll set the manipulator to world space. If you gesture to the north west, you'll set it to object space. This will come in handy when posing Stu's limbs.

* Make sure you keep the caps lock key off while using keyboard shortcuts in Maya because this program is case sensitive. Note that pressing W versus w will actually sets a key on your object's translation vector. The same goes for E and R.

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