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From Barnes & NobleAutodesk's Introducing Maya 2008 is simply the best low-cost way to succeed with Maya -- even if you've never touched a 3D or animation tool before.
Dariush Derakhshani covers the entire process of building, rendering, and animating digital models and scenes for film, video, gaming, or 3D design. Introducing Maya has always had a strong hands-on focus; now he's introduced an additional case study, in which you'll model, texture, light, and render a child's rocket in 3D, using photos for reference.
As you practice, Derakhshani systematically introduces you to through virtually every technique professionals need to master. You'll start with one of the simplest animations possible -- the solar system -- and as you do, you'll gain a clear sense of the Maya preproduction and production processes, and start getting comfortable with its Outliner tool.
You'll walk through modeling with both polygons and NURBS, mastering techniques like patch modeling (Derakshani's example: a detail from a larger locomotive project). Step by step, you'll work your way through deformers, subdivision surfaces, shading, texturing, essential animation and lighting techniques, and a whole lot more. Not least, there's a practical introduction to dynamics, including rigid and soft dynamic bodies, particle effects, and paint effects. Along the way, Derakhshani introduces several of Maya 2008's key enhancements. And, beyond the previous edition's extensive set of tutorials, he's also added widely requested topics such as lattice deformation to soft shadow mapping.
Check out the color insert showing how good "beginner" Maya work can be. Then, load the free Maya Learning Edition and accompanying CD-ROM project files, and prepare to do some great work of your own. Bill Camarda, from the January 2008 Read Only