Maya: Deformers


by Minkyung Choi

With Maya's deformers, you can quickly build and animate deformed surfaces with a high level of control.

Switch to the Modeling Module for these examples.
All these tools work with polygons or NURBs


Blend Shape
Blend Shape is different from other deformers. It is specifically designed to perform morphing tasks, and has a separate slider editor. You can also access blend shape sliders in the Attribute Editor or through the channels in the Channel box.

Blend shape is especially useful for facial animation. In this type of animation, a group set shapes such as certain phonemes or facial expressions need to be readily accessible, editable and blendable.

Create two spheres. Change the second sphere's shape by pulling points

Change the name of the second sphere to something that describes the motion, ie. blob.

Select the first sphere (base)
Choose Deform -> Blend Shape
(This adds blend shapes options in the channel editor)

Select  the second sphere (target), use shift to select the first sphere(base) too.
(The order is important)

Choose Deform-> Blend Shape -> Add
(If the 2 shapes have a differing number of points go in the options and uncheck Check topology.)

You may delete the second Sphere.

Look at the channel editor, you now have a new channel for the morph.

You may also select Window -> Animation Editors -> Shape Editor
An editor opens with a target slider. A blend shape node is created and the target slider is an attribute of that node

This allows you control the deformation of complicated objects with fewer control points than deforming object directly. Maya creates Lattices around the object and when you transform the influence lattice, the object inside it gets deformed.

Create->Polygon Primitives-> Helix->option.jpg
         coils 10, height 10, width 2, radius 0.2

select the helix and create Lattice 
             divisions: 2, 3, 2  -> Create
Select the Lattice, Hold down the right mouse button to bring up a mini menu, choose Lattice Point.
You may scale, rotate or move the points in order to deform the object into various shapes.

You may animate by using the s key or cluster lattice points to add a node.

Open Window-> General Editors-> Hypergraph: Hierarchy to view the 2 components of the lattice. These may also be manipulated for various effects.

Use a low resolution object to manipulate a higher resolution object.

Create->NURBS Primitives->Sphere (default settings) low resolution
Create->NURBS Primitives->Sphere->option.jpg
     Number of Sections 50
     Number of Spans 50
Select the high-res sphere, and then use shift to select the low-res sphere.
Select Deform->Wrap

Add a node to manipulate translate, rotate, scale for a group of component points as a group.

Select the CVs or vertices you would like to group together.

Select Deform->Cluster

Use Windows->Hypergraph: Hierarchy to select the cluster.

Soft Modification
Create a shape
Select Deform->Soft Modification

These are simple functions, but they're remarkably effective in creating their intended animations and deformations.

Bend - bends an object along a circular arc.
Flare - flares and tapers an object.
Sine - curves an object into sine waves.
Squash - stretches and squashes an object.
Twist - twists an object.
Wave - creates circular ripples on an object.

Sculpt Deformer
Sculpt deformation uses a sphere as a sculpting tool to make round or flat ring-shaped deformations. 

Create->Polygon Primitives-> Plane->option.jpg
Scale up the plane


Open Window->General Editor->Hypergraph: Hierarchy to view the 2 components of the sculpt deformer. You may want to move, rotate or scale both elements together.

Jiggle Deformer
Think belly, this is not so effective
First, animate a Torus rotating
Use the Channel box:
     stiffness .1
     force on tangent .1

Play the animation

Wire tool
Wire deformation works with an influence wire and a base wire, like Lattice deformation. The deformation occurs according to the relative distance between the two wires. Useful for creating facial expressions

Create NURBS->Primitives->Plane
     Width 3, Length 3
     U patches 16, V patches 16
Create NURBS->Primitives->Circle

Deform-> Wire 
  (default setting)
Maya asks you to select shape(s) to deform:
     Select the plane and press Enter
     Select the circle press Enter

The circle is now called a wire. Note that a hidden duplicate of the wire, called the base wire, has been created as well.
Translate up the wire as shown below, then try moving up the base wire. As the distance between the two curves decreases, so does the intensity of the Wire deformation.
To pick up the base wire, go to Windows->General Editors->Hypergraph:hierarchy

There are option to manipulate in the Channel box for the plane.

Point on Curve
Right mouse over a curve to add a curve point
Deform->Point on Curve
This add a locator which you can move, rotate or scale to manipulate part of the curve.

Shrink Wrap
This works with polygons only. Make sure the object has enough divisions.
Select the  object to shrink and then the base.
Select Deform->ShrinkWrap