Mastering Maya 8.5 is an excellent book for those who want to learn 3D animation using Maya 8.5. Not only is it written for beginners, but intermediate users will find the 852 pages full of useful lessons as well. The publisher is Sybex. The authors are John Kundert-Gibbs, Mick Larkins, Dariush Derakshani and Eric Kunzendorf.
The book comes with a CD ROM that has 23 chapters of source files. These source files allow the student to participate in the book's lessons. In addition, the CD Rom has a link where the student can download a trial version of Maya 8.5.
Chapter 1 introduced the student to Maya's powerful interface. This includes viewing the 3D animation through Maya's various viewer panels. You also learn powerful shortcuts that will help you edit more quickly.
Chapter 2 quick starts the reader into a short animation project. Various 3d animation skills are introduced to the reader such as, keyframe animation, basic lighting, rendering frames and node structures.
Chapter 3 introduces the student to polygonal modeling and its principles. In addition the lessons include creating a cartoon character that the student animates using polygonal modeling.
Chapter 4 teaches the student about nurbs and curves and why they are the preferred choice for designing 3D modeling. This lesson includes modeling a MacGizmo, a 3d space mobile that the cartoon character will drive.
Chapter 5 instructs the student to edit the cartoon character's head using subdivision surfaces. The student then learns about sculpt geometry tool hot keys and how they help refine the 3D model's head.
Chapter 6 introduces the student to Maya's blend shapes and advanced modeling. The cartoon's head is used as a template for these 3D modeling techniques. The student learns how to make the head sneer, blink and smile using shapes and blends.
Chapter 7 teaches the student of Maya's various animation techniques. These include keyframe animation, dynamic or effects animation, path animation, motion capture, nonlinear animation and technical animation.
Chapter 8 introduces the student to Character Setup and Rigging. The student takes a hands on approach to creating skeletons, forward and inverse kinematics and skinning a character.
Chapter 9 is exciting because the student dives into the animation process more thoroughly and uses the various animation techniques to perfect the final outcome. These include using video as reference material, using the various poses that go into advanced animation.
Chapter 10 gets into Nonlinear Animation and teaches techniques that can be used and shared with Maya. These include creating poses, creating clips, modifying, blending and sharing clips and key poses for a walking cycle.
Chapter 11 gives lessons in lighting for 3d animation. This includes types of lighting, light manipulation, and using shadows.
Chapter 12 teaches the reader about Maya's texture effects. The student can use the textures on the cartoon template that comes in the book's CD ROM.
Chapter 13 instructs the student on the basics on Maya's rendering techniques.
Chapter 14 teaches the student on Maya's advanced rendering tools.
Chapter 15 provides the student with Maya's Toon Shading Techniques and the various ways you can apply fills and generate toon lines. The student also learns the importance of using paint effects and toon line modifiers.
Chapter 16 introduces the student to Maya's scripting language MEL. MEL stands for Maya Embedded Language. This scripting language helps increase the user's productivity by automating and simplifying the work flow.
Chapter 17 instructs the Maya student on Maya's many Paint Effects and how it applies to a 3D scene. The book also shows how to create different brushes and how to animate them.
Chapter 18 introduces the student to Maya's Rigid Body Animation technique. Rigid Body Animation is used instead of keyframed animation.
Chapter 19 teaches the student about using particles in Maya. Particles are a powerful tool that offers the 3D artist many powerful effects.
Chapter 20 opens the door to Maya's fluid effects. This chapter teaches what are fluids, how to create drag-and-drop fluids, creating fluids from scratch, fluid attributes, and ocean and pond effects.
Chapter 21 teaches the student about Maya's hair tool. This includes the fundamentals of hair systems, creating hair, controlling hair systems, styling hair, dynamics and collisions, rendering hair, creating cache and using dynamic curves to drive a skeleton system. Maya's hair tools come with the Maya Unlimited Package.
Chapter 22 teaches the student how to use Maya Fur. This chapter includes creating, editing, animating and rendering fur, fur attribute maps and attractors, as well adding fur to a character.
Chapter 23 introduces the student to Maya's new nCloth. nCloth stands for nucleus clothing. With nCloth the 3D artist can simulate any type of clothe as well asl balloons leaves and water effects. Only Maya 8.5 Unlimited comes with the powerful nCloth simulation.
So if you want to learn 3D animation using Maya 8.5 or if you're an intermediate Maya user, this is an excellent resource for you and you'll want it in your library.