Using Image Plane as Reference Image

Using Image Plane as Reference Image

Maya 2012 Tutorial


How to Add a Reference Image as a TemplateĀ in Maya



Image planes are used as reference images as you create your model. The reference image can be created with pencil and paper, then scanned and saved as a jpg. You can also create your top, front and side views in programs such as Photoshop or Illustrator.

In this example we will create a series of views in Illustrator and save the images as jpg files. The images are then imported into Maya and used as background reference images to simplify the modeling process. We are using Adobe Illustrator CS 5.

To make sure that all the images line up properly in Maya you will want to make one final check before saving your Illustrator images. Select each image one at a time in each of the three views. Make sure that the object's center is located in the center of the respective view (top, front and side).


Step One

Create a new project, set your project and save a new scene in the scenes folder. For more information, see topic, Starting a Project.

Step Two

Open a new 1,024 pixel x 1,024 pixel Illustrator document.

Step Three

Activate the Rulers by choosing View > Rulers > Show Rulers (Command/r (PC - Ctrl/r).

Step Four

Choose Illustrator > Preferences > Guides & Grid. Change the Gridline Every: value to 128.

Step Five

Choose View > Snap to Grid and View > Show Grid.

Step Six

Drag one horizontal and one vertical guide from the top and side ruler so your document is broken into four equal quadrants. The guides should snap to the 512 pixel grid lines in each direction.

Step Seven

Draw a top, front and side view of your object. The object points should line up in all three views.

Step Eight

Draw a rectangle with a stroke and no fill that matches the dimensions of the artboard (1,024 pixels x 1,024 pixels).

Step Nine

Choose Object > Slice > Create from Guides. This breaks your artwork into four slices, one for each view and an extra panel.

Step Ten

Choose File > Save for Web & Devices. In the dialog box select Preset: JPG High and click the Save button.

Step Eleven

In the next dialog box, choose Format: Images Only , name the file ProjElevations.jpg and save the images in your Maya project's sourceimages folder. The four jpg images are placed inside an images folder inside the sourceimages folder.

Step Twelve

Returning to Maya, select the top view panel and choose View > Image Plane > Import Image. Open the images folder and open the ProjElevations_01.jpg file.

Step Thirteen

In the top view, choose View > Image Plane Attributes > imagePlane1 to open the image plane options panel.

Step Fourteen

In the Attribute Editor, imagePlane tab, Placement Extras section, change the Center y value to -15. Whenever you see three boxes like this, x is the first box, y is the second and z is the third. The image plane moves 15 units in the negative y direction. Set the Width and Height to 30.

Step Fifteen

Repeat steps thirteen and fourteen for the front view. Select the ProjElevations_03.jpg file and set the Center value to -15 in the z direction.

Step Sixteen

Repeat steps thirteen and fourteen for the side view. Select the ProjElevations_04.jpg file and set the Center value to -15 in the x direction.

Step Seventeen

The image planes are now in place to begin modeling. To continue with this tutorial, see topic, Modeling with an Image Plane.

Turning an Image Plane On and Off

If you need to temporarily disable an image plane, open the Attribute Editor, imagePlane tab, Image Plane Attributes section. Set the Display Mode to None.

Using a Plane Object as an Image Plane

Another way to add image planes to your scene is to add a series of square plane objects. By positioning the planes and assigning each plane the appropriate elevation image (i.e., top, front or side), they can be used as reference images. To see the textures on the planes, select views one at a time and press the 6 key.

If you wish to see your object in wireframe mode during the modeling process, select the object and open the Attribute Editor, Shape tab, Object Display section, Drawing Overrides sub-section. Click the Enable Overrides checkbox and deselect the Shading checkbox.

Image Planes and Layers

You will find that by placing the image plane objects on a separate layer, they can be easily disabled by changing the image plane layer visibility setting.


Stock Photos from 123RF