Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design - learn more

Online 3D Modeling Course

Maya I

If you're looking to create video game artwork, look no further than Autodesk Maya. Maya combines powerful tools for the major areas in 3D content creation: modeling, animation, texturing, and rendering. In this online 3D modeling course, you'll unlock the mysteries of Maya. You'll develop a thorough understanding of the Maya toolset, learning how to create, edit, and refine polygon models, add textures and apply UV maps, develop basic animations, and export your artwork into a game engine.

Online maya course image 

Maya model made from primitives

Learn powerful tools for 3D content creation

Instructor-Led Course

Feedback from design professionals

Creative Projects

Stretch your skills, grow your portfolio

Learn at Your Own Pace

Self-paced and scheduled programs available

Course Outline

1 - Intro to Maya

Lesson One kicks off your course with an orientation to the elements of the Maya interface: the view window, tools, buttons, and timeline. You'll learn how to customize your view, zooming in and out, and to navigate between different artwork displays through key commands and shortcuts. You'll create and adjust primitives to create basic 3D models, and using the Transform tools to move, rotate, and scale them in three dimensions. To help you organize your artwork, you'll learn how to group and parent objects and pivot them.

Project - Primitive character

2 - Modeling in Maya

Lesson Two introduces you to ways of manipulating the shape of an object to begin creating realistic or complicated shapes. You'll learn how to select components and edit them, rotating, scaling, and transforming the elements in your model. Any face or edge can be deleted, extruded, poked, or cut to add details to your objects. When you get tired of that, you'll discover the delights of using Booleans to overlap objects to merge or extrude new shapes. The lesson wraps up with a section on how to duplicate or flip components and a focus on how to use object history to keep track of the complexity of your art.

Project - Inorganic model

3 - Poly Modeling II

Lesson Three focuses on how to turn your complex polygons into smooth, polished models. First you'll examine how Maya calculates the number of triangles in your models when it renders. You'll learn how to split polygons by creating new vertices and faces and draw new polygons freehand. To round off all this complexity, you'll study how to use normals to create gradients and bevels to smoothen edges. A final section will explore approaches for modeling a character and reducing the poly count on your creations.

Project - Efficient character model

4 - Texturing and UV Mapping

Lesson Four focuses on showing you how to add texture to your models, so you can control their color, shininess, transparency, and reflectivity. You'll learn how to set up a basic light rig including a directional light, spotlight, key light, and point light, and render it from different camera views. You'll explore how the different controls in the Hypershade editor work and learn how to apply basic shaders. Then you'll examine how to add an image map and manipulate its attributes.

Project - Color, shading, and lighting

5 - UV Mapping

UV mapping allows you to take a 2D texture image and place it properly on a 3D surface, and for game artists this technique is an absolute must. You'll learn how to create and apply UV maps to your models, cutting and sewing them, and folding and unfolding them. You'll walk through the UV mapping of simple and complex objects, and you'll work in Photoshop to produce texture images to apply to your maps. The lesson concludes with some rules of the road for managing UV maps.

Project - UV and image maps

6 - Animation and Workflow

Lesson Six unleashes Frankenstein's monster: animation, the art of bringing life to the unliving. You'll start by learning how animating in Maya works, creating, moving, and editing keyframes on a timeline. Then you'll move on to another key topic: What to do with all this great art and animation you've made in Maya. You'll explore workflow techniques, naming conventions, and file structures, and rendering techniques so that you can provide clients previews of scenes.

Project - Environment design

Course Outcomes

Students in this course can expect to learn to:

  • Create objects using NURBS and subdivision surfaces and choose the appropriate geometry type for a 3D model.
  • Use a range of methods for creating NURBS surfaces including revolves, lofts, birails, and trims.
  • Create a skeleton of joints for a character that allows for accurate motion.
  • Bind a character to a skeleton and weight it for accurate deformation.
  • Develop constraints and connections on objects and learn how to manage forward and inverse kinematics.
  • Apply straightforward animation and non-linear animation techniques using character sets and the Trax Editor.
  • Create animations in which characters interact with environmental objects realistically.
  • Use animation and textures to create complex special effects including glows and lasers.
  • Apply Maya Dynamics to create particle emission effects, fire and fluid effects, and other complex environmental effects.
  • Use light types, light linking, raytracing, and depth maps to create lighting and shadows.
  • Create advanced renders, layered renders, and post-processing effects to complete a scene.

Course Registration

Interested in this course? Scheduled enrollment options are available. Ask Admissions about taking this course as part of a degree program.

Course LevelClasses startRegistration FeeTuition
Degree course
3-credit course, 15 week
Jan, Apr, Aug$200$510/credit
* Registration fees are nonrefundable after 5 days from enrollment. All tuition includes a digital materials fee for updates to course or program content.

Software and Supplies

To take this course you'll need:

  • Computer with Internet connection (broadband recommended).
  • Autodesk Maya and Adobe Photoshop.
  • Basic experience in the above software.
  • Three button mouse required for PC users, recommended for Mac users.

Who’s Teaching

Course developed by Nat Stein

Getting Started

Enrolling online is easy and convenient.

Chat with our knowledgeable admissions staff to select course and program options.

Complete your registration entirely online.

Related Programs

Did you know? You can take this course as part of an award-winning certificate or degree program.