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  • Writer's pictureChristina Guo

A Beginner's Guide To Maya's 3D Tutorial

The world of digital marketing has shifted from the usual stagnant objects to appealing moving objects to make them look like naturally moving objects. As complex as it sounds, making the stagnant objects move is not that difficult, especially if you use Maya 3D animation.

For an aspiring animator like you, Maya 3D animation provides extensive features with enticing models to make your animation look like a reality. This is why it is widely used in TV industries, filmmaking, and more.

If your passion has led you to dig deeper into the astounding steps of 3D animation, then you are just at the right place. Here is a step-by-step guide to 3D animation in Maya Software and some additional tips to aid your animation game.


Isn’t it amazing when you get all the tools in one platform? It saves you from the hassle of moving to multiple platforms. Here are all the basic tools Maya offers.

  • Transform Tools

In the toolbox section of Maya, the options to move, rotate, or scale are found in Transform tools. You can click and drag the object with these tools.

  • Move Tools

The controller with the four handles in the toolbox is the moving box. It helps to move the object along the axis and planes so that you can add animations from different angles.

  • Rotate Tools

This tool rotates your object in any direction you want. It has four colored rings, which coordinate with XYZ planes to make the rotation for 3D animation easier.

  • Scale Tools

Scale tool helps to change the dimensions of the objects. It has four handles which help to give you better control over the dimensions.

  • Cease Tools

This tool helps to crease the edges and vertices of the polygon mesh. It helps to harden or soften your mesh while retaining the original resolution. Thus, you can give a clean shape to your object while adding animation.


Step 1:

To make the learning process easier, let us create a simple box. To make the box, go to the option of Poly Modeling, just above the shelf box, and select a Polygon Cube command. Drag the cursor to the canvas and draw the cube. After adjusting its position, press the R button for the scale command. Next, hold and drag the scale handle buttons to increase the scale of the canvas.

Step 2:

Select the "Move" command to move the shape above the line. You can also use the "W" key on the keyboard to move the shape. Next, move your shape by holding the Y-axis so that it moves along the Y-direction. The moving and scaling of the object are the pre-essentials of the animation. They bring the object to a relevant place before starting the animation.

Step 3:

The next step is to animate the object. For this, use the keyframe slider area and go to the keyframe option at the bottom of the viewport to start your animation. Next, choose the key from where you want to start the animation on the keyframe area. After this, press the S key to set the key at the keyframe. A red sign will appear in the cube's properties under the channel box option.

Step 4:

Next, set the keyframe at any one of the properties of your cube. To do this, right-click on the cube, and a list of drop-down menus will open. Then, select the option of "Key Selected" to choose the keyframe. Once the key is selected, press the shift button to select all the properties and add the key to all the other options.

Step 5:

Coming to the animation part, place the head of the keyframe at whatever intervals you want to move the object according to your desire in whichever direction you want. Again, press the W button and drag the buttons of the three different axes for moving your object.

Step 6:

After this, press S to go to the settings, and then press the Play forward button to start your animation. You can also press Ctrl and V for the animation and Esc to stop the animation.

Step 7:

To adjust the rate of the animation, click on the Windows menu on the Menu bar, and a drop-down list will appear. Then, go to the settings and click on the Preferences option in the drop-down list. In the drop-down list, choose the time slider option and 24 fps option on this tab. It will help you to control your animation at a controlled frame rate.

Step 8:

Press the show button to go to the start or end of the keyframe slider section. You can also move one frame forward or backward with the same button.

Step 9:

The slider frame will set the time frame for the object. Click the play button and enjoy your animation.


Moving a step further, here is how we can make a character in Maya:

  1. Start by going to the Character Controls Windows and creating a skeleton for the character. After that, make an animation layer in which you can organize your keyframe.

  2. Next, move to the character Controls section and open the Layer Editor Box. In the Animation option, click to create an empty animation layer. The anime layer will be displayed on the Playback controls.

  3. Then, go to the channel box and select the mode to set up the body part.

  4. Choose an effector by going to the character representation and selecting the effector.

  5. Then, go to the toolbox and select the Move tool. You will see the manipulator on the screen.

  6. Drag the arrows if you want to change the position and move it along the axis. Then, change the keyframes on the effectors on the body parts.

  7. To animate the complete body, go to the Control tab toolbar and select the Full Body keying mode. Then, use the Move manipulator and change the position of the object.

  8. To set the playback range, move on to the animation control and choose the Range Slider Bar. It lets you control the playback range.

  9. Go to Playback Controls and click to play the animation.


To make your animation stand out from the rest, here are a few of the incredible features you can use to up your animation skills:

  • Fast playback

It eradicates the previous playblast option and helps you make the changes immediately in the animation.

Playblast is a type of preview that helps you to sketch the animation before the actual process begins.

  • Unreal live link

This new feature helps you to stream the animation data from the software to Unreal. That is, your current and the modifications in the animations can be seen in Unreal when you make the modifications.

  • Graph Editor

It gives a graphical representation of your animation keys. It provides a vivid picture of your animation through which you can control the keyframes, change animation curves, alter time, etc.

  • Pencil Tool

With this tool, you can specify motion arcs, add comments, mark annotations, etc.


Despite the step-by-step tutorial, you might come across minor obstacles when you start with the animation process. To further simplify your animation process, here are a few tips you bolster your 3D animation process.

The Z-axis represents the 3D part of the picture. That is if you want to make the nose and hands of the character in a 3D shape, transfer them to the Z-axis.

To save time, you can use numerous hotkeys to streamline your animation. Here are a few of the easiest shortcuts

● W: Translate

● E: Rotate

● R: Scale

● V: Play animation

● 4: Toggle Image Plane Visibility

You can also add special effects to your 3D animation. For this, simply specify the type of action like rippling water or bouncing a ball. This way, you can create a wide variety. The special effects are available in the toolbox under the section “Special Effects.”

If you want to add realistic lighting or texture, use the option of Maya Simply Standard Tool. It will create all of the textures and shapes.


Maya is one of the simplest tools for modeling, shading, and animating objects. It uses the simple Python API, which makes it easier to create scripts and plugins. Moreover, you won’t have to pay extra to use the Maya features as it has a lot of free plugins.

Special Sculpting Tool

Moreover, this amazing platform displays your work with perfection because of its Special Sculpting Tool. While most platforms focus on adding animating tools only, the Maya software has added sculpting tools to clean your digital objects and faces. It gives a realistic view of the objects.

All in all here is all you need to know to create the best animation in Maya Software. Little You has been using Maya to create numerous animations, feel free to download our models on our Gallery page and let your creative juices flow.

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