Creating Rope And Tubing In Maya
This tutorial will teach you two techniques for creating ropes, tubing, etc. with UVs.
Download this curve.mb file.
There are two methods to make a tube or curve-like shape, but both of them involve starting with a NURBs curve in along the path of the tube you want to create. Once you've created your NURBs curve, you will wrap your geometry around in one way or another. The curve's direction must be going away from the location from where you start your extrude. The two best methods are polygon extrude or surface extrude. In my opinion, surface extrude is the better way to go; I'll explain why later in the tutorial.
Assuming that you're making a round object (pipe, hose, rope, tube, etc.), you'll want to start with a polygonal cylinder, then extrude one of the cylinder's end faces. Here's how you go about doing that.
Step three - Set the axis divisions to 30; this will ensure that the cylinder is smooth enough. You may want to go higher if you require the tube being extremely smooth. Click create.
Step four - Right click and go to face mode and select all the faces except one of the end faces; it doesn't matter which end.
Step five - Now go to object mode and select the model and go to modify>center pivot. This will make positioning it easier.
Step seven - Select the curve, then select the cylinder and go to the polygonal menu set, and then go to edit mesh>extrude; open the options.
Step eight - You'll want to change the division settings. This is how many divisions there will be along the curve. The more there are, the smoother and more detailed the curve will be. There really isn't one number that fits this, because it depends on the length of your curve; the longer the curve, the more divisions you will need. I normally use 200+ as the base number. Now click extrude.
That's just about it for using the polygon extrude technique. If your tube looks "blocky", you can select it and go to window>attributes editor, then go to the polyExtrudeFace# tab, then roll down to the Poly Extrude face History tag and increase the divisions.
This technique relies purely on curves. If you've ever used Revolve, you'll find it is similar.
Step four - Unlike polygon extrude, we have to do some prep work to the path curve, or the curve we're extruding along. If you right click and go to control vertex mode, you'll see that the control vertices are quite a distance apart. This is too large for our application, so we're going to add more in between. For this we're going to use the re-build curve function. Go back to object mode, select the curve, set the menu set to Surfaces, and go to edit curve>rebuild curve... Open the options.
The main attribute we need to change here is the number of spans. This is very similar to the divisions in the extrude option. In other words, it varies upon application. 200+ is a good starting point, but the longer the curve, the more you'll need. It is better to have too many, than too little. Click rebuild.
Now when you look at the curve's control vertices, they're much closer together and there are more of them. This is much better for application.
The only settings we need to change are the ones in the output geometry section. First set it to polygons. Second, set its type to quads and its tessellation to general.
Third, set the U type to "per surf # iso of params in 3D". Now, set the number U to something like 30; this is how many edges that will be around the tube. Fourth and last step, is to set the V type to "per span # iso of params". Now set the number V to 1 or 2, 2 being twice as many edges along the curve as if it was set to 1. If you did the curve rebuild correctly, you shouldn't need more than that. Now click extrude.
Optional Step - You may have noticed that the tube's ends aren't closed. If this is important to you, go to the polygon menu set and go to mesh>fill hole.
Why Surface Extrude Is Better Than Polygon Extrude
Surface etxrude might be a bit harder to set up because it requires more tweaking than polygon extrude, but it does give you a finer control. Also, unlike polygon extrude, in surface extrude, the UVs are already created. This is a long chore if you want to do this by hand for any pipe-like object.
Both of these techniques can have taper set-up on it. To do it for the surface extrude, simply adjust the scale setting in the options box. Set the scale to 1 and it will taper off to nothing at the end of the curve. For the polygon extrude, use the taper setting in the polygon extrude options. This works the same as the scale setting.
Thanks for reading this tutorial. I hope this helped you out.