Max 2 Maya

This page comes out of the month of issues I have had learning Maya. I have worked with 3D Studio products for 15 years so I have a "Max" way of working. For a Maya user my comments may seem bizarre as no Maya user in their right mind would even think about trying it "that way". The problems below may be my finger trouble, Maya bugs, or legacy Max brain getting in the way. Though probably it's Maya's fault, that is the liferaft I am clinging to at the moment.

There are some great things in Maya but this page is not about singing its praises, it is not meant to be a bitch fest of grumbles either. If anything seems "negative" it is not meant to be that way. I am sure a Maya user coming to Max would have many "What the...? Why the...? Oh for goodness sake" moments as well as some ".... cool!" moments too. That's what this page is.

To start with there are a bunch of hints and queries with suggestions. After that is the "I can do that in Max, how do I do that in Maya" bit that also has some more detailed work arounds

Feel free to comment, or, if you have a work around, suggest it. I am not saying there this is "the one true way" or that the suggestions below are the best way just these are problems I have found and here is how I got round them. There may well be / are better ways. 

Good luck and may your Gods go with you...

Alternate Terminology

                      Max               Maya
                 Loft spline = Surfaces/Surfaces>Extrude Spline
            Surface Patch = Surfaces/Surfaces>Loft Splines
                Sub Object = Component
            weld (vertex) = Polygons/Edit Mesh>MergeComponets
        Target weld UVs = You cann't...
                         Push = Polygons/Edit Mesh>TransformComponets ( a bit pants. Best use numeric entry in the channel box)
                       Attach = Polygons/Mesh>Combine
    SHIFT + drag (copy) = CTRL + d (object only - there is no SHIFT + (drag) functionality for faces, edges etc)
 0 (Render to texture) = Rendering/LightingShading>TransferMaps
                       Unhide = Show

General Workflow
  • Think outside the Max box. There are whole new and different ways of doing things. Some Max ways just do not fit with the way Maya thinks. Hold on to this thought: You are not going mad, your brain is not in backwards, you will get there in the end.
  • Break things up into smaller jobs to combine into the larger thing. 
  • Some tutorials on the net are done by folk who show their way of doing something. It is not necessarily the best way of doing things.
  • Use "Increment and Save" regularly rather than "Save". I use it as a mega undo file list.
  • Turn on Auto backup if it is not already on. Maya very rarely crashes, this is more for a mega undo list thing in case you don't increment and Save often enough.
    Window>SettingsPreferences>Preferences>Files/Projects   tick  Enable Autosave
  • Suggestion: Dont be "precious". Treat your first pass at an object as a quick and dirty "throwaway". Just use it as a guide for your finished object. I have built objects two or three times to get the best out of it. Remember; you are learning new software, don't beat yourself up. You are lucky if you come up with the best way the first time.
  • Just because you have the grid set to "meters" doesn't mean all the tools think that way. For some "10" will mean 10 meters, for others it means 10cm and for others it means 10%. There are too many quirks for me to list here so I'll leave you to find out.
  • Once you set your system to be in meters you will need to reset the grid (It will still be displaying 10 cm). To get it to update (and why wouldn't you?) Display>Grid [options box] then just press "Apply and Close". Why it doesn't do this automatically is beyond me.
  • Maya2015 is buggy. If something doesn't work as expected (or as it did the last time you tried it) Undo your last action(s). Press "Enter" then press "q". Go to Object mode. Deselect everything. Take a deep breath. Try again. Did it work this time?
Object Workflow
  • Each tool has tons of options hidden from you at creation time. Look in the Channel Box "Inputs" for more adjustments
  • The Channel Box rarely shows you the "Input" you actually want. Get used to rummaging inside other "Inputs".
  • The Channel box looks like, but is not the same as, Max's Modifier stack.
  • Inputs are not the same as modifiers. They are editable "after the fact" (nice, I like that), they can be re-arranged or deleted if you are willing to go into the node editor, unlink them then then link past them to the correct output node. Personally I am not confident doing that.
  • I like having all my inputs available to me so that if I need to raise that wall I extruded 2 days ago, I can. I also do not like playing in the node editor, for that reason I set my undo list to at least 100.
Creating Objects
  • Maya comes from Power Animator which was Nurbs based (they did Terminator 2 on it so it cann't be bad). It has a lot of spline base methodology that Max kind of sort of has but not done very well. In Max this was best avoided (except the original SplineTools plugin which was great). In Maya these tools work and they can be very powerful. They are, however, a completely different way of thinking from Max's polygonal approach and they use completely different language. Maya tries to replicate Max's polygonal / bezier splines so that you know how many polys you will be creating, but this is a fudge and has sometimes, occasionally, caused me "issues". Curve on polygon being a prime example. Also the "live surface" thing breaks if you try and mix Nurbs and Polygons. Don't know if it is a maths / Maya thing, or an Andy forgot to press a tick box somewhere problem.
  • Most of the Spline Tutorials on the net are not good and show the creator has no understanding of how Nurbs Splines actually work. The Coke Can tutorial is a good example of getting it wrong and making the job ten times more complicated and labour intensive than it needed to be.
Poly Objects
  • Interactive creation. Maya doesn't show you the dimensions of the thing you are creating as you create it, I find this irritating. Note: Interactive creation can be turned on or off here
    Create>Polygon Primatives then tick or untick Interactive Creation at the bottom of the menu. When turned off you get the poly created at default size and at 0,0,0
  • Lofting a shape down a spline. If you are used to Max's "loft" spline function, this will not give you the result you expect as the two softwares use the same words to mean different things. You want to "Extrude Spline"
  • Lofting actually creates mesh BETWEEN two (or more) splines that have the same number of control vertices (or knots if you are using Nurbs). You can then (in the Channel Box) change the number of intervening polys created along the surface (like Max could in the drop down). This is a great tool.
    Note: what is created is called a "Surface", Max calls it a "Skin". Skin has a specific meaning in Maya to do with weighting and bones etc where as in Max "Skin" and "Surface" are interchangeable.
Modifying stuff
  • MeshToolkit looks great to start with and is fine so long as you never want to "look under the hood" in the Channel Box. It sometimes does not undo cleanly and can leave your mesh in a weird state that you don't find out about until some later time (remember me saying "don't be precious"?)
  • Max has "modes". Once you are in a mode, you stay in a mode. Maya doesn't think like that, it is more freeform. This means you can start a cut operation, move the camera to see more faces and continue the cut operation. In Max moving from Cut mode to camera move mode would end the cut operation
  • In Max, once you set up a user defined pivot, you keep a user defined pivot. By default Maya doesn't think that way, it assumes that once you have used a user defined pivot you will either want the standard pivot or set up a new pivot for the new selection. If I choose to use my own pivot, usually I want to use it for more than one operation or for adjusting more than on vertex/vertex set, so Maya constantly resetting it is a paint to me, but... to fix this there is an easily missed tick box called "Pin Component Pivot" In the "Move Settings" Toolbox DAMNED USEFUL!
  • If you Extrude (loft) a shape along a spline, in both softwares, editing the spline at component (sub object) level updates the surface (skin)... But. in Max you can move either skin or splines at object level freely... In Maya, even at object level if you move the spline then you move the surface. Maybe Maya users wont care about this, but max users are going to hate that... It means you cannot create the object then decide to move the surface somewhere more useful, then move the spline path at a later point to (a) bring it to your surface (b) just move it out of the way
    Workaround If you want to be able to edit the spline and have the surface update then never move the surface. Move the spline instead - does'nt sound like much of a chore but when you have been used to the freedom of being able to move either, then ending up with the spline at a weird angle (in some instances) can make later editing... interesting.
  • If you are used to Max's SHIFT + LMB drag method of modelling, well it doesn't exist in Maya.  
    Select a group of faces or open edges, Polygons/EditMesh>Faces>Extrude (or Edges>Extrude) with Thickness set to 0 and Offset set to 0. Click Extrude then press q
  • In Max you press "ENTER" to end (accept the output of) a tool. In Maya most tools are ended by either clicking in blank space or pressing "q" (activate Select tool). Pressing ENTER seems to do nothing in most tools, though some pars of MeshToolkit do require ENTER rather than q.
  • Mesh Toolkit, however, has some tools that stay active and cannot be "ended" in the standard Maya way. This can lead to merry hell in your mesh if you don't notice... Remember setting the undo list to 100... Aren't you glad you did that now!?
  • When you select a few objects you can move them easily. Rotating them is a lot less fun. Maya will not rotate them as a group... unless you group them... and then move the newly created group pivot from 0,0,0, and then ungroup them once you are finished... and then group them again (and move the pivot again) when you want to tweak the rotation - pain in the arse. EDIT - Open the Group Options Box and there is a radio button to make he Group pivot "Center" automatically... Question - Why isnt this on by default, Maya. Why????
  • Note, there is a bug in 2015 so that if you group 2 objects that are on top of each other (for rendering normal maps etc) and then ungroup them, you cannot select faces without "accidentally" selecting the object behind instead. Only solution is to save your work, shut down Maya, load your file, now all is good in the world (until the next time you group things)
  • When you are in Component (Sub Object) mode Maya does not tell you any details as to how you are translating/rotating/scaling these components. There is no work around for this other than ticking the "Discrete move/rotate/scale" box and setting the Snap Size/Angle in the Move/Rotate/Scale Toolboxes
  • The "g" key is your friend. It does the last thing you just did - again... (mostly). This can be a great time saver, but...
    1. Some tools (especially in MeshToolkit) do not repeat.
    2. Sometimes the thing Maya says is your last action (icon below the "scale" icon on LHS) is different from what you actually just did. Is that because the tool is unrepeatable or because the icon is wrong? - There is only one way to find out...
Smoothing groups
  • Maya doesn't have these. You "Normals>Harden Edge" where you want creases and "Normals>Soften Edge" where you don't. This can be time consuming (remember the "g" key to speed things up). 
  • "Smooth"-ing a mesh (like TurboSmooth in Max) undoes all your edge hardening and makes all edges "soft.
  • "Smooth"-ing a mesh - does just that. If you have made your mesh to specific sizes and proportions, you just lost the lot. There is no option to "preserve smoothing groups" to keep 1 meter high walls 1 meter high. There are other ways to do" smoothing" such as selecting an edge ring and bevelling. Then go to the Channel Box and adjust the settings (number of divisions etc and "edge flow" to keep the curvature). This is much slower than smoothing but much more controllable.
    I find it is (sometimes) a bad idea to use the MeshToolkit edge ring tool for doing multiple edge rings (very tempting as it looks to do all you want in one fell swoop) it can create a shed load of Inputs (one per edge ring group) which makes adjusting a pig (just re-tested this and got a different result - hmmmm - this happens a lot in Maya). 
  • The Maya UV editor has some cool tools but can be clunky to use (Max 2015 is awful too). For example you select faces to apply mapping. You then have to convert them to UVs to edit them. The UV shell select tool should be modal, but isn't. Once it is on, it is ON (clicking it again wont make it go away).. It seems like it is impossible to get out of "shell" mode.. that is unless you change from move to rotate or scale or anything else usefull, then it magically un-selects its self.
  • Maya's default planar projection is down the barrel of the Z axis. Nope, that's not the "top" as it would be in Max, but from the left hand side (Max's Y axis)
  • In the UV Texture Editor window most of the controls for relax etc are under the "Polygons" menu item. Make no mistake, you have to select UVs to actually do something even though the menu item says Polygons
  • Bevels screw up UVs big time (they do in Max as well). I think this is just one of those things that UV maths cannot handle in any software.
  • You can select verts, edges and faces in the UV editor. Whatever you do, don't try and move them. It doesn't work. Convert them or choose them as UVs
  • Maya happily handles multiple UV maps. If you combine two objects and the UVs for one disappear, don't worry, they haven't gone it is just that they are not in the same UV map you are looking at. So far I havent found out how to move UVs from one map to another (there must be an easy way), so...
    Workaround - Undo the combine you just did, then rename both the UV maps (Create UV's>Rename Current UV set) to "map1" as this is what Asura Tools likes, and then redo the combine
The manipulator
  • Sometimes you can be picking things and the manipulator just keeps getting in the way. Press "q" to go into "Picking" mode and the manipulator hides (you cannot edit in Picking mode so you don't need the manipulator)
  • In a standard 3D view, if you are trying to edit your mesh but the manipulator wont show up it is because you are editing UVs rather than verts. (hint - are the "verts" brown or purple? If they are brown you are in UV mode. Change to vertex mode and you'll be fine. Did you press F12 by accident? That's how you got into UV mode)
  • You just combined two or more objects and now the manipulator has disappeared - Combining resets the pivot to 0,0,0. Use Modify>CentrePivot to bring it back to your object
  • The keys used for selecting things are not the same as Max. Initially you are going to spend a lot of your time accidentally tumbling the camera ;-)
  • "ALT" does not allow you to remove something from a selection - it adjusts the camera - ALT + LMB tumbles the perspective view
  • "SHIFT" is not used to end a list selection. "SHIFT" is INVERT the state of whatever I click on or swipe across
  • "CTRL" is not a modal "picker" - SHIFT, in effect, is. "CTRL" is REMOVE from selection
  • "CTRL" + "SHIFT" is ADD to selection
  • Alegedly holding down the "Tab" key lets you "paint" a selection. When this works it is great. Anyone sitting next to me can tell when I am using this tool because of the frequency of the phrase "Fuck Off". This is due to Maya deciding that the Tab key is going to rapidly switch between all available type in boxes in sequence rather than select the faces I want. I say "Fuck Off" a lot these days.
  • Turn on statistics and check you have the number of verts etc you think you should have.
    Display>HeasUpDisplay>Polygon Count
    Use the "f" key to "find" (centre the camera on) your selection. If it doesn't look right, you have more things selected than you thought.
    Note Max uses "z" to "zoom" in on a selection. Maya uses z to undo (CNTL + z also works as in all other Windows software). If you tried to frame selected but the camera didn't move, make sure you haven't just undone something (CTRL + y to redo).
  • Line of sight (put mouse over what you want and click) selecting in Maya is AWFUL! If the object you want to select is invisibly masked by the bounding box of a nearer object then Maya will pick the nearer object even though your mouse is not over any of its polygons. What idiot thought that was a good idea? If you want to select the object (or vert, or edge, or face - see how this can get anoying?) then you have to click drag to marquee select. This really is crap.
  • Object "Mode" is not like in Max where "I have this object selected so this is what I want to work on". Say, for example, you have two objects, one behind the other and you have just the front object selected in Object mode. Switch to face mode (while the mouse is over two overlapping objects), then BOTH objects go into face mode, not just the one selected. 
    Maya will let you select stuff on more than one object at a time (though some tools only work on one isolated... erm.. "bunch of stuff" at a time so don't expect your action to work on ALL the stuff you have selected just because you have it selected. This is especially true in Object Toolkit).
  • Maya does not have the concept of "elements". You can break groups of faces away using Mesh>Extract[Options box] then untick Separate Extracted Faces. This is what Max would consider an element. You can then select it in face mode by double clicking on a single face to select all connected faces, so you CAN do it, there just isn't a "mode" for it. Interestingly, if you combine a bunch of objects into one object (made of sub objects / elements / whatever you want to call them) You actually end up with a parent container that has no mesh of its own, but has all those elements as children. Kind of like an auto generated "group". Once again, this may be me getting it wrong and not combining things correctly. Post a comment if you know a better way.
  • I find I cannot trust Maya's selection tool when I have vertex snap on ("camera based selection" is a better option).
    Suggestion. Don't work with vertex snap on (as I was doing). Select the vert as normal and then press (and hold) "v" to activate vertex snap, that way the vertex and the manipulator are in the same place. Release "v" once you have snapped the vertex 
  • Maya sometimes does not pick the vertex I hover my mouse over. Maya suggests (and will pick) the nearest visible vertex ON THE FACE that it thinks your mouse cursor is hovering over, so if your cursor is slightly off the face that the vertex you want is actually on, it will pick a vertex on that (possibly further away) face. This would appear to be a Maya 2015 bug.
  • Sometimes you cannot select things in the way you expect or you get a weird selection that makes no sense. You probably have a selection constraint on. Have a look in Select>SelectUsingConstraints (very bottom of list). In "Constrain" area select "Nothing". then press "Close and remember"
  • Maya's snapping works. This may seem like a strange thing to say as you can snap quite well in Max, but once you get used to Maya's way of snapping it can become a joy, especially if you are happy to move the pivot for the selected group. This is a way of working you just don't have in Max. EDIT: - The selection bug mentioned above sometimes breaks Maya's snapping. Hopefully this will be fixed in Maya 2016.
  • Snap to Curves is a bit weird. It does not behave like any other snapping tool. To use you first turn on Snap to Curve. Grab hold of the yellow circle bit of the manipulator and place it over the curve you want to snap. Then let go. Now when you move the arrows on the manipulator you find you are sliding along the curve. - Told you it was different
  • For a Max user this can seem like a black art to start off with because settings in the move controller affect how groups of things snap. Also how you use the manipulator affects whether you are in 2D or 3D snap mode.
    GOTCHA. You have a group of verts you want to snap as a unit but they keep collapsing to a single point
    Workaround - If not already open, double click on the "Move" icon to open the Toolbox. Find Move Snap Settings and tick Retain Component Spacing
    GOTCHA. You have done a bunch of 2D snaps then when you look in 3D the verts have snapped to somewhere across the other side of the mesh
    Workaround -when 2D snapping in an orthographic window ALWAYS have the perspective view visible as 2D snapping can become 3D snapping without you realising it and only a 3D window will tell you. This "should" work flawlessly but 2015 broke this.
      Do two 1D snaps (using the left/right arrow then the up/down arrow) rather than one 2D snap (using the square bit of the manipulator)
  • "BACKSPACE" hides (un-draws) a selected edge or edges, it does not remove the vertexes associated with the edge, it just doesn't draw it to the screen any more. The triangle count in your object remains the same. If you want to then get rid of those verts to reduce your triangle count, select the verts and press "DEL" (not "BACKSPACE") to remove them. In Max this would cause a hole in the mesh, but not in Maya, face continuity is preserved. If you want a hole, select a face and delete that.
  • "CTRL" + "BACKSPACE" removes the edge and its associated vertexes. The triangle count in your object is reduced.
  • Maya by default doesn't let you import or export OBJ files. To activate this go to  Window>SettingsPreferences>Preferences>PluginManager  objExport. You do not have to restart the software, "it just works" (which is nice)
Finishing off the day
  • Some days you will believe there just isn't enough gin in the world... Make do with a pint :-) (more than that and you will be over the limit tomorrow morning anyway).

How to

Show the manipulator if it is playing hard to get.

Are the vertexes brown or purple/yellow? If brown the manipulator will be hidden in the 3D views as you are in UV mode Press F9 to go into vertex mode and try selecting something and pressing "w" (Move mode) Did that fix it?
If not, press the "t" key. This is the Show Manipulator Toolbox key. Stupidly named as this will hide the manipulator (because you are in the Manipulator Toolbox and not in Move/Rotate/Scale) but you can press "Reset Tool". Then press "w" or click the "Move" icon.
Tip: to change the size of the manipulator use the plus and minus keys on your keyboard

Stop things from mysteriously hiding

Thats legacy Max brain for you. Are you using the "h" key as the "scale" shortcut... Well in Maya that hides whatever you have selected

Unhide stuff

Depends what you have hidden... Open up the Outliner (Window>Outliner) then select the name of the Object you just hid and select SHIFT + h (unhide selected). Sometimes this doesn't work as Maya likes to complicate things and what you think you are unhiding isn't what Maya unhides. To Unhide All Display>Show>All

Show mesh statistics


Show open edges

Window>Settings_Preferences>Preferences>Display then press "Highlight Border Edges"

Show UV edges

Display>Polygons>Custom_Polygon_Display then in Highlight tick "Texture Borders"

Centre the pivot on the current object/component

Modify>CentrePivot (yes, it is that easy - you just have to remember it is there). 

Find Ngons

Select>SelectUsingConstraints (very bottom of list). In "Constrain" area select "All and Next". In "Properties area turn everything off then for "Order" select "Nsided"
  • GOTCHA At some point down the line you find you are unable to select any faces... vertexes, yes... edges, yes... faces, NO
  • FIX Change the "Order" radio button to "Off"

Extract a curve from a mesh

Modify>Convert>PolygonEdgesToCurve [Option Box]  Choose your degree "1 Linear" means poligonal spline. 3 means quadratic (Nurbs)

Snap something to a curve

Grab hold of the yellow circle bit of the manipulator and place it over the curve you want to snap. Then let go. Now when you move the arrows on the manipulator you find you are sliding along the curve

Add sub divisions to curved surfaces (and keep the curvature, hard edges and game dependant dimensions)

  • Method 1: Works well where all faces are of approximately the same size
Select the edges that make up the area you want smoother.
You are going to bevel the selected edges and rely on surface continuity to continue the curvature rather than just simply sub divide the flat polys

SHIFT + RMB on the edges then from context menu select the little box to the right of "Bevel Edge" in order to bring up the options box. Put a value in the "Width" setting. This tool is not interactive, you cannot tell what result you are going to get, don't worry if it is not right, we can edit it later.

Here is the result. Note:- it will need some face edge re-orientation fixes as the newly created edges have been connected together across the face and since this is a concave curve, those connections are not in the right place for us. If this had been a convex curve everything would be fine.

So, select the errant edges (in yellow below) and press BACKSPACE to let Maya re-orient the triangles for you (yes, it is as easy as that)

In the Channel Box now adjust the "Fraction" setting. In theory you can highlight the word "Fraction" to make it go orange then slide left/right to interactively adjust the value. Not sure if it is a bug but the interactive number tops out at "1" which is a pain if you want larger than 1. Some other tools seem to top out at 0.5 even though you can type in larger values, I don't know why.

Note:- Type-in boxes in Maya de-activate when you press "Enter" but still stay highlit so they look like you can continue changing the number. Remember to click on the box every time you want to change the value. If you find your 3D view changing to blobby mode or wire frame or some such, it is because you think you are typing into a number box but you forgot to re highlight it. You are actually using the keyboard shortcuts for 3D View Settings.
The finished, smoothed area with hard edges intact and parameter height and width for game engine use, intact.

Set UVs to a set size (4x4 meters real world for example)

This example assumes you want to planar map.
  • Go to face mode and select all the faces you want to map. There are two ways of projecting UVs
    1. CreateUVs>PlanarMapping[Options Box] then choose you settings (don't tick Create New UV Set unless you really need a second set of UVs on the object) or
    2. With the Polygons tab active 
      press the flat T Checkerboard icon to do a default planar map
  • Then in the Channel Box open up the "polyPlanarProj" Input and change the Projection Width and Projection Height to "4" (or whatever defined size you want the 0 to 1 map to be)
  • Note: By changing one of the Rotate (X Y or Z) to "90" you can change the default projection axis to how you want it if it is incorrect

Tip: the Automatic Projection (T Checkerboard icon) is a great timesaver 

if you DO NOT want full numeric control of the UV coverage. Otherwise do not be tempted to use it as its Input in the ToolBox does not have the right options to set the height and width (don't ask me why - it would seem logical to me)

UV a tiling texture along an undulating/curvy road / rail / cable etc (In Max you would UV along a spline).

This is just SO un-Max and alien to my way of UVing, but it works.
Note: It relies on you wanting to remap the whole object and that the whole object is made up of sensible quads. If you only want part of your object mapping this way, select those faces and detach them into a separate object Mesh>Extract[Options box] then tick Separate Extracted Faces
  • Select the faces/object you want and give them a planar/Automatic/whatever map (doesn't matter about settings as they are going to be completely over written - this is just to get some sort of UVs on the faces)
  • In the UV editor select all the face for the UVs (orange faces not the green UVs) - 
    if you can only select UVs make sure the UV Shell tool isnt active as this forces the selection to UVs only
    FIX The UV Shell tool isn't a toggle button, press the "q" button to get back to standard SELECT mode
  • In the UV editor window select Polygon>Unitise This separates and gives every face its own 0 to 1 UVs so all you can see is what looks like one square poly in the 0 to 1 space in the UV window
  • In the 3D window select one edge loop that runs the full length of the road/rail (double click on an edge to select the entire loop). In the finished UV layout this will become one of the outside edges of the finished map (either at 0 or 1 - it doesn't matter which at this point). Think of this as the control spline in Max.
    Note: in the UV window the edges selected may not be all along one side but it might look like the whole lot is selected. Don't worry.
  • Back in the UV editor, go to edge mode, hold down SHIFT and drag select over all the edge UVs. This inverts the selection, so that everything but the initial edge loop is selected. This is because we want to work on the rest of the UVs
  • Again in the UV editor window select Polygon>MoveAndSewEdges. This does what it says on the tin. It moves all the UV faces so that they are stacked inline and stitches the connected edges together again in a huge, vertical column.... Each face is now occupying the 0 to 1 space evenly which is fine if your mesh squares are all the same length.
  • If your road is made up of different lenth bits, here comes the cool bit.
  • Select all the UV verts then Polygons>Unfold[Option Box] radio button of Method>Legacy  in the Pinning section Untick PinUVs then radio button for Vertical then Apply and Close. You now should have some pretty well laid out and scaled UVs for your road/rail/whatever
GOTCHA It sort of looks right but is at a weird angle and some of the bits are bent
Workaround The Method radio button is set to Unfold3D rather than Legacy
GOTCHA Nothing happens
Workaround The radio button for pin UVs was still on (they are all pinned in place so they cannot move)
GOTCHA The UVs are still vaguely column like but swap over themselves weirdly
Workaround The radio button for Unfold Constraint was the wrong one, try a different one

Original Tutorial Videos if you have Youtube access (2nd one had some useful extra tips)


Move verts/edges/faces along an edge/face

  • Select the components you want to move
  • In the Move Toolbox (double click on the Move icon if it is not visible) Move Settings
  • Click "Set Orientation to Component"
  • Click on the component in the 3D window that you want to use as the user defined axis
  • Move your selected components around
  • Note: If you want to keep this axis available for another use, in the Move Toolbox tick "Pin Component Pivot" then when you want to re-use that axis, click radio button Custom.

Move a group of verts/edges along their respective edges/faces

Not found a way of doing this (so easy in Max). Anyone else got any clues?

Mirror geometry

To create a second object and auto merge it with the first (e.g. othe half of a head)
    • Mesh>Mirror Geometry [option box] Tick "Merge with Original" and choose either "Merge Vertices" or "Connect Border Edges".
    • Note:- Merge Vertices will weld the matching mirrored vertexes (if within the tolerance - always make this larger than 0.000). Connect Border Edges creates a ring of new faces between the two halves of the mesh EVEN IF all border edge vertexes are perfectly aligned (giving a ring of zero width faces - check the triangle statistics for proof)
To create a second object mirrored about the object centre (e.g. other wing of an aircraft)... 
    • Edit>Duplicate Special [options box] Then set the scale to -1 in the axis you want to mirror. This lets you duplicate as a new object or as an instance

Workaround to Maya 2015 sellection bug

Select a vert you want, not the one Maya wants you to have
Snap verts to the vert you actually want, not the one on the other side of the mesh

End note:
No, you are not going mad or developing "Rapid Onset Tourette's Syndrome", you are just learning new software.

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