Importing a Logo from Illustrator to Maya with Bevel Plus

Maya In-Depth Tutorial

Importing a Logo from Illustrator to Maya with Bevel Plus


Maya 2015
Illustrator CC 2015

Illustrator 2D artwork is a great starting point for 3D models. In this tutorial we will create a simple logo in Illustrator, import it into Maya as a series of curves, then give it depth with Bevel Plus. The text portion is imported separately, this time using Create > Adobe Illustrator Object.




Key Concepts


Starting a New Maya Project

The first step to creating in Maya is to start a project. Projects are used to organize all your assets into a series of folders so Maya can find things such as textures, Illustrator files, template images, etc. Launch Maya and choose File > Project Window.


 Choose Project Window from the File menu

Click the New button in the upper right corner of the dialog box.


The New Button in the upper right corner is used to create a new project


Name your Current Project, Illustrator3DLogo. Click the file folder icon to the right of the word, Location. and save your project in a logical location such as the desktop or Documents folder. Click the Accept button and the project and all its sub directories are created.


Name your project and set your project location, then press Accept


Save your current scene by choosing File > Save Scene.


Save your scene


The scene should be saved in your new project's scenes folder. Name the scene Logo01.


Save the scene in your project's scenes folder and name it, Logo01.


Temporarily hide Maya by choosing Maya > Hide Maya (Cmd/h (PC - Ctrl/h)). Now we can go to work in Illustrator.


Creating the Artwork

Launch Illustrator and open a new document by selecting File > New.



Choose New from the File menu


Choose Web from the Profile menu. This sets our document to RGB mode. RGB is the best mode to use when migrating assets to 3D software packages.


Select Web from the Profile menu to set the document to RGB and pixel units


Enter a size of 1,000 pixels by 1,000 pixels. Name your document LogoArt and press OK.


Set the Width and Height to 1,000 pixels, name the document and press OK


We will be creating a logo for Omak Tools. We'll use text, basic shapes and compound paths.

Select the Polygon tool, set a fill color and no stroke, then add a hexagon to the document. Press and hold Shift while you draw the shape to constrain proportions.BevelPlus011




Set the Polygon tool fill color and add a hexagon to the document


With the shape selected choose Edit > Copy, then Edit > Paste in Front. This places a duplicate shape directly in front of the first shape.

BevelPlus013By pressing Edit > Copy and Edit > Paste in Front, a new duplicate is placed in front of the original hexagon


Press and hold Option (PC-Alt) and Shift as you click-drag one of the shape corners to shrink the upper shape.


Press and hold Option key and Shift key as you scale the upper shape


Marquee select both shapes with the Selection tool and choose Object > Compound Path > Make.

 BevelPlus015     BevelPlus017Select both shapes and choose Compound Path > Make from the Object Menu


You now have a hole in your shape.


The center disappears


Select the Ellipse tool, hold down the Shift key and draw a circle in the center of the initial shape.

BevelPlus018        BevelPlus019

Draw a circle with the Ellipse tool


With the Selection tool, marquee select all the shapes.


Select both Objects


Open the Align panel (Widow > Align). Click the Horizontal Align Center, then the Vertical Align Center buttons to align your shapes.


Click the Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center icons to center your objects


With the shapes still selected, choose Object > Group (Cmd/g (PC - Ctrl/g)).


Choose Group from the Object menu


Using the Text tool, add some text to the logo. Set the font and adjust the font size as you create your text. Don't worry about the color. That will be determined in Maya. Our main concern at this point is to create a series of lines that define the shapes for the logo and text. In our case we used a 175 pt Arial font. Omak was set to regular and Tools was bold.


 Using the text tool, add your text


Our text is currently being defined by the system font. To convert it to a series of bezier curves, select the text blocks and choose Type > Create Outlines.


Choose Create Outlines from the Type menu to convert the letters to vector shapes


To simplify the export process, we need to place the logo on one layer and each word on its own layer. Select the logo and choose Edit > Cut (Cmd/x (PC - Ctrl/x)).



Select the logo and choose Cut from the Edit menu


Open the Layers panel by selecting Window > Layers. Click the Create New Layer icon at the bottom of the panel.




Open the Layers panel and click the Create New Layer icon


Select the new layer and choose Edit > Paste in Place (Cmd/Shift/v (PC - Ctrl/Shift/v)).






Select the new layer and choose Edit > Paste in Place


Repeat the process for the remaining two text objects and delete the original layer. Once you are finished you should have three layers with content, one for the logo and one for each of the two text objects.


Each layer contains a separate object


Since Maya doesn't do well with guides, be sure to delete all guides before exporting your shapes.


Exporting From Illustrator

Maya and Illustrator play well together, most of the time. For best results, you will want to save your artwork in an older Illustrator version that Maya recognizes.

Turn off the visibility for all the layers, then turn on the visibility for the logo object.


Turn on the logo layer visibility by clicking the eye icon


Choose File > Save As.


Choose Save As from the File Menu


Set the Format to Illustrator and save it in your Maya project's data folder. The file should be named LogoArt.


Save the ai file in your Maya project's data folder. Name it LogoArt.


In the Illustrator Options dialog box, select Illustrator 3 (not Illustrator CS3). Click OK and don't worry about the warning dialog box that follows.


Set the Version to Illustrator 3 and click OK


Return to the Layers panel and turn on the visibility for the Omak text layer. The other two layers should not be visible. Save the file as OmakText following the steps above.


Turn on the Omak text layer visibility and save the file as OmakText


Repeat the process for the ToolsText.


Turn on the Tools text layer visibility and save the file as ToolsText


You should now have three Illustrator 3 files in your Maya project's data folder (LogoArt, OmakText and ToolsText).

Hide Illustrator by choosing Illustrator CC > Hide Illustrator.


Once you have saved the three files, choose Hide Illustrator 



Importing the Logo into Maya

Return to your Maya scene (Logo01) and choose File > Import.


Choose Import from the File menu


In the dialog box, navigate to your project's data folder and double-click the LogoArt file.


Double-click the LogoArt file


Don't be concerned if you can't see the Illustrator shapes in your workspace. They are probably not within the perspective window view. Place your curser over the perspective window and press the f key to frame your curves.


Place your curser over the perspective (upper right) window and press the f key to frame the shapes


By default the object's pivot points are set to the origin (0,0,0). Select all the objects by marquee dragging around all the artwork. Choose Modify > Center Pivot.



Marquee drag to select all three objects



Choose Center Pivot from the Modify menu


The pivot point for each object is now located in the center of each curve. You can easily view the pivot point by selecting the object and choosing one of the transform tools such as Move, Rotate or Scale.

By activating the Move tool, you can see that the object's pivot point is now in the center 



Applying Bevel Plus

In this example, the object is created with two separate shapes, the outside hexagon and the internal circle. We'll apply the Bevel Plus command to each shape individually. Marquee select the two shapes that define the hexagon.


Use the Selection tool to marquee select the two hexagon shapes


Choose Surfaces > Bevel Plus from the Surfaces menu set. Be sure to include the options.



Choose Bevel Plus and select the options box on the right


In the options dialog box choose Edit > Reset Settings, then click Apply. By clicking Apply instead of Bevel, the dialog box still remains open.


Choose Reset Settings, then click Apply


Your new extruded shape appears.


The 3D hexagon is added to the scene


Select the circle curve object, then press the Bevel button to create the inner circle and close the dialog box.


Select the inner circle


Press Bevel to create the circle shape


The 3D circle is added to the workspace


You may want to fine tune the Bevel Plus settings for your objects. By selecting an object and opening the Attribute Editor (Window > Attribute Editor), you can access the bevel and extrusion settings. Select the circle and in the bevelPlus tab, Polygon Output Options section, Sampling subsection, increase the Curve Span value and notice that the circle becomes more rounded.

Increase the Curve span value to smooth the circle. This is also a good time to fine tune the bevel and extrusion settings


Notice how the Curve Span adjustment smooths the circle



Importing the Text into Maya

We'll use a different technique to bring in the text. Bevel Plus works great for one or two objects but for several objects, like words comprised of several letters, you end up with separate Bevel Plus settings for each letter.

Choose Create > Adobe Illustrator Object and include the options.


Choose Adobe Illustrator Object (include the options box to the right) from the Create menu


At the top of the dialog box, choose Edit > Reset Settings, then click Apply.


Reset the dialog box setting and click Apply


Navigate to your project's data folder and double-click the OmakText file.


Double-click OmakText to import the Illustrator artwork


Now repeat the process for the tools text by clicking the Create button in the Adobe Illustrator Object dialog box. This time double-click the ToolsText file.


Double-click the ToolsText file in the dialog box


You can smooth the geometry for the text in the Attribute Editor by selecting the text and opening the bevelPlus tab, Polygon Options section, Sampling subsection. Increase the Curve Span setting to round out the edges. You can also adjust the text bevel settings.

Increase the Curve Span value to smooth the letters


Your geometry is now ready for textures



Adding Textures and Image Based Lighting

The geometry is looking pretty good. It's time to add some textures and render the scene. Right-click the outside logo shape and choose Assign Favorite Material > Blinn.


Right-click the hexagon and choose Assign Favorite Material > Blinn


Open the Attribute Editor and change the color by clicking the Color rectangle.


Change the object color by clicking the Color rectangle


Repeat the process three more times to add materials for the inner circle and the two text objects.


Add materials to each of the objects


Add a wall behind the text with a polygon plane by choosing Create > Polygon Primitives > Plane.


Choose Plane from the Polygon Primitives sub menu


With the plane selected, open the Channel box and change the Rotate X value to 90 and Scale values to 10. Use the Move tool to place it behind the logo. This creates a surface to receive shadows and create depth in the scene.


Change the Rotate X value to 90, then set the scale values to 10. Use the Move tool to move the plane in the negative Z direction


Right-click the wall and choose Assign Favorite Material > Lambert. Change the color in the Attribute Editor. Lambert is a good choice for surfaces without reflections.


Right-click the plane and choose Assign Favorite Material > Lambert


Our next goal is to set up the lighting and render options. We'll be using Mental Ray to render our image so it is important to verify that Mental Ray is enabled on your machine. Choose Window > Settings/Preferences > Plug-in Manager.


Open the Plug-in Manager to verify that Mental Ray has been enabled


Scroll down the list and verify that there are two check marks (Loaded and Auto Load) next to Mayatomr.bundle. Click Refresh and close the dialog box.


Loaded and Auto Load should be checked. Press Refresh and close the dialog box.


Open the Render Settings by clicking the Display Render Settings icon.


Click the Display Render Settings icon


Choose Mental Ray from the Render Using menu.


Select Mental Ray from the pull-down menu


At the top of the panel choose Presets > Load Preset > Production. This will crank up the settings to produce a high quality render.


Choose Production from the Presets menu


Click the Indirect Lighting tab, then press the Create button next to Image Based Lighting. This creates a large sphere that surrounds the scene. The sphere is used to light the objects.


Click the Create button to add image based lighting


Click the Final Gathering checkbox in the Final Gathering section and change the Point Interpolation to 75.

 BevelPlus083Click the Final Gathering checkbox and set Point Interpolation to 75


Click the triangle next to the Image Based Lighting button to open the Attribute Editor.


Click the black triangle to the right of Image Based Lighting to open the options in the Attribute Editor


In the Attribute Editor, mentalrayiblShape1 tab. Choose Texture for Type. Click the box next to the word Texture and set the sphere color to white.


Set the Type to texture and change the texture color to white


We have a couple final adjustments in the Render Settings dialog box. Click the Common tab and open the Render Options section at the bottom of the panel. Deselect Enable Default Light to turn of the default light. In the Image Size Section, change the Presets value to HD 1080, then close the dialog box.

Choose the HD 1080 Preset and deselect the Enable Default Light Checkbox



Rendering the Scene

Rendering a scene is very processor intensive. We need to remove the clutter and simplify the process. The biggest bottleneck in Maya is object history. As you created your objects, several history steps became connected to the model. To see what we mean, select one of the shapes and open the Channel Box. Notice the list in the Inputs section.


An object's history displays in the Channel Box


History also appears in the Attribute Editor as a series of tabs.


History also appears in the Attribute Editor


To remove all history, choose Edit > Delete All by Type > History.


 Choose Delete All by Type to remove history from all objects


Lets also take a moment to think about our camera. By default Maya provides a perspective camera with a 35mm lens. This is considered a wide angle lens meaning that the objects tend to appear distorted. Open the Outliner by choosing Window > Outliner.


Open the Outliner to select your camera


Select the persp camera and open the Channel Box. Change the Focal length to 80.


Select the perspective camera in the Outliner



Set the Focal Length to 80 


Using the mouse scroll wheel, Opt-Left Mouse drag, Opt-Middle Mouse drag and Opt-Right Mouse drag, frame the perspective window to frame your logo. Use the Alt key if you are using a PC.


Use the cameral shortcuts to frame your objects


Click the Render the Current Frame icon and watch your labors come to life. The lighting, textures and shadows are calculated and rendered as your final image.


 Click the Render Current frame icon at the top of the interface


The rendered image appears


To save your image, choose Save > Image from the render window.


 Choose Save Image to open the Save dialog box


In the dialog box name the file and save it in your project's images folder. Depending on the image editing software you use, you may wish to save the file as jpg, png, targa, tiff or iff.


 Save your image in the project's images folder. Pick a file format that can be opened in your image software


There is one thing we could do to improve the shadows. Return to the mentalrayiblShape1 tab in the Attribute Editor. Click the Emit Light Checkbox and set the Quality slider to 2.


Check Emit Light and change the Quality value to 2


Render your scene a second time and notice the added realism. This time you need to be patient. It might take several minutes to finish the render.


With Emit Light activated, the shadows appear more realistic