Maya Tutorials

Maya Interactive Tutorials

Welcome to my free Maya tutorials. Here you find a list of interactive simulations designed to explain Maya attributes in the easiest and most intuitive way possible. These documentations are intended to be used for both beginners and professionals as a on-hand online documentation while working on 3D projects. New tutorials will continuously be posted, if you want to be notified subscribe in the form below and feel free to write your comment or recommendation for new tutorials.

These interactive Maya tutorials are offered by the Swiss 3D animation Studio VisualCenter and renderings by 3D generalist freelancer Joel Stutz.

Maya questions and answers

Below you find a list of the most common asked questions in Maya. The purspose of this tool is to answer as clearly and quick as possible common problems and difficulties that 3D designers encounter. The quality of this FAQ is that each answer has been tested if they really work.

If you’re using google chrome press Ctrl + F to search for a relevant keyword, other browsers have a similar shortcut. If you have a question related to Maya feel free to write me at and I hope I will be able to post the answer. I apologize if I will not be able to answer every Email.

How to mirror blend shapes

how to mirror blend shapes

If for example you made a left eye blink blend shape it is not possible to simply duplicate it and scale its X to -1 in order to create the right eye blink. This is because each vertex has an ID number and by flipping the mesh you simply flip the individual vertices. The way to mirror blend shapes is:

  1. Duplicate 2 times the original model (the model you bind to the skeleton) and rename them “scale” and “wrap”. These 2 new models should be at the exact same position.
  2. Select “scale” and set Scale X to -1
  3. Select the blend shape you want to mirror (for example the left smile), shift select “scale” and create a blend shape. (leave the blend shape parameter to 0)
  4. Select “wrap” and shift select “scale”, Create Deformers> Wrap option box and activate: “exclusive bind”.
  5. Now select “scale” and set the blend shape to 1.
  6. Duplicate “wrap” and then you can delete all other models. This new model should be an exact replica of the original blend shape but flipped, the vertex IDs should be correctly updated and this model can be used as a blend shape to the original model.

How to create custom controls in Maya

arrow cube triple circle

Custom curves controls improve the appearance of a rig and facilitate the animator’s understanding on how it works. Here are 3 different examples:


  1. Go in the top view camera and show the viewport grid.
  2. Go to Create> CV Curve Tool option box
  3. Set Curve degree to 1 Linear, this allows you to draw straight lines.
  4. Hold the “x” key to snap the points to the grid and draw a closed-symmetric arrow.
  5. Press Enter to finalize the shape.


  1. Create a polygon cube.
  2. Go to Create> CV Curve Tool option box
  3. Set Curve degree to 1 Linear, this allows you to draw straight lines.
  4. Hold the “v” key to snap the points to vertices and draw a complete cube by clicking on all necessary vertices.
  5. Press Enter to finalize the shape.

Triple Circle:

  1. Create a NURB circle and duplicate it 2 times.
  2. Set the Rotation X of one duplicate to 90.
  3. Set the Rotation Z of the other duplicate to 90.
  4. Select all circles and Freeze Transformations.
  5. Go in the Outliner and on the top activate Display>
  6. Click on the “+” icon of each “nurbsCirlce” node to extend their groups. You will see that each “nurbsCircleShape” is inside a “nurbsCircle” group.
  7. In the outliner select “nurbsCircleShape3”, hold Ctrl and select “nurbsCircleShape2” and “nurbsCircle1” Group (not the shape).
  8. In the Script Editor type parent –s –r (This will cause the two nurbsCircles to be parented to a single group.
  9. Delete the History of your new circle and you can now delete the other empty groups. At this point you can deactivate again the Display> Shapes view in the outliner.

How to custom color a nurb control in Maya

color ctrl

  1. Select the nurb curve.
  2. In the Attribute Editor open the “Object Display” and the “Drawing Overrides” tab.
  3. Click on “Enable Overrides” and choose your desired “Color“.

In a rig it can happen that in the viewport the color affects also its child polygons such as teeth and eyes of a head control. To fix this group the objects and override the group object display color to default grey.

Mia material X is not rendering reflections

mia material x not rendering reflections

It is frustrating not to see any reflection appear on the mia material shader no matter how high you turn the reflectivity. The reason is that Normals point in the wrong direction. Contrary to the Blinn shader, mia material by default only renders reflection on the Normal’s side. You can see the Normals by going to: Display> Polygons> Face Normals. The 2 solutions are:

  1. Flip the Normals by clicking on: Normals> Reverse.
  2. In the Attribute Editor of the Mia Material turn Off “Skip Reflection On Inside“. This will allow the shader to render reflection on both sides of the surface.

How to set a linear workflow in Maya 2015

  1. In Render Settings, under “color management” check Enable Color Management.
  2. Set input profile to Linear sRGB, meaning that it calculates the render as linear.
  3. Set output profile to Linear sRGB if you are going to output a 32 bit exr, tiff, etc. If you render jpg or other formats at 8 bit set output profile to sRGB.
  4. In the “Quality” tab, under “Frambuffer” set data type to RGBA float 4×32 Bit.
  5. You need to tell that 8 bit jpg or png file textures are 8 bit, which you do in the file’s Attribute Editor by setting “color profile” to sRGB. If on the other hand you have a 32 bit texture (for example an HDR image) you need to set it to Linear sRGB.

How to use Diplacements in Mental Ray

  1. Drop a file texture into the shader’s group Displacement Material.
  2. Select the model and go to window> rendering editors> mental ray> approximation editor.
  3. Create a subdivision node.
  4. In the new created approximation node set Method to Length/Distance/Angle.
  5. Increase min and max subdivisions for more quality, like 4 and 6.
  6. Check View Dependent to work with screen pixels and not Maya units.
  7. Set Length to low values for more accuracy, like 0.1.
  8. In the file texture set Alpha Gain to lower values to decrease the displacement strength.
  9. Set Alpha Offset to the negative half value of alpha gain. So if Alpha gain is 0.5, alpha offset should be -0.25. This will ensure that 50% grey pixels will not displace at all.
  10. Be aware that displacment quality depends on density of the polygon! For this reason, if you have an animated character with displacement, use the Mesh> Smooth option instead of using the “3” button.