Graph Editor

Graph Editor

Maya 2012 Tutorial


How to Control Animation with Maya Graph Editor



The Graph Editor is used to fine tune your animation and by adjusting the easing in and easing out at keyframes. To view the motion graph for an animation you must first select the animated object.


In addition to ease settings you can also add and delete keyframes, move keyframe handles independently and reposition your keyframes.

For this topic we will add a sphere to the workspace with two keyframes and open the Graph Editor.


Step One

Add a polygon sphere to the workspace by choosing Create > Polygon Primitives > Sphere.

Step Two

Select the sphere and click frame one of the Timeline. Press Shift/w to add a keyframe at frame one. This sets keys for Translate X, Translate Y and Translate Z.

Step Three

Select frame 24 of the Timeline and move the sphere 10 units in the X direction. Press Shift/w to set another keyframe.

Step Four

Click the Play button in the Controller to view your animation.

Step Five

Stop your animation, select the sphere and choose Window > Animation Editors > Graph Editor.

Step Six

The sphere and it's three translate attributes are listed in the left panel. Click Translate X to view the graph of your animation.

Step Seven

Notice that the name of the attribute matches the color of it's graph. The graph shows that the object starts slow, speeds up in the middle and slows down in the end. A steeper curve means the object is traveling faster.

Step Eight

If you are having difficulties finding your graph on the grid, click the Center View, Frame Playback Range and Frame All icons to frame your graph.

Step Nine

To add a keyframe, click the Insert Keys Tool icon, left click the graph, then middle-mouse click to add your keyframe.

Step Ten

To delete a keyframe, select a keyframe and press the Delete key on the keyboard.

Step Eleven

To move a keyframe, select the Move tool (w key), then left-click the black square. Once selected left mouse drag the square.

Step Twelve

To adjust the keyframe handles, select the Move tool (w key) and left-click the black square. You can also marquee select the square. Once the handles appear, marquee select the handle you wish to edit and left mouse drag the handle to reshape the curve.

Step Thirteen

To move the handles independently, select the key by left-clicking it, then click the Break Tangents icon. Now you can left mouse drag each handle independently.

Step Fourteen

To reconnect the two broken handles, select the keyframe and click the Unify Tangents icon. Click the Auto Tangents icon and the handles are aligned.

More Graph Editor Options

In addition to Auto Tangents you can also modify your handles with the Spline Tangents, Clamped Tangents, Linear Tangents, Flat Tangents, Step Tangents and Plateau Tangents icons.


More than Just Translate, Rotate and Scale

You can see additional object attributes in the Graph Editor by first adding some keyframes to a specific object attribute (i.e., a material's Diffuse property). Select the node (i.e., material node) in the Hypergraph or Hypershade, then open the Graph Editor.