by: Christina Douk
At the beginning, when I first used Maya, I barely used any marking menus, until I was influenced by an instructor of mine. I used hotkeys and shelves before, but I noticed how much more efficient I was to just do a couple of pen flicks to use a tool. I used to spend a lot time digging through menus but it would always make me lose focus, and it would drop my momentum. Also, I personally found it best to work with a cintiq or a tablet because it is a lot more fluid than using a mouse, and it doesn't agitate my carpal tunnel.
How I decided where to put the marking menus and hotkeys was a lot of trial and error, but the main idea is that if you use the tool very frequently, I'd turn it into a hotkey, if I use it frequently and it has multiple settings, I'd make a marking menu, and if I use it an average amount of times, it can be in a marking menu or on a shelf. Nowadays, I pretty much just try to avoid any digging into the interface menu when modeling.
Setting up your menus, hotkeys and shelves varies on the way you model. I don’t recommend copying what I do to the point, which is also why I don’t share my menus unless you know what is going on first, and it is also better for you to learn and adapt to your menus that are made by you for you.
Lets start off with how to make a Marking menu and hotkeys for them. I’ll have to go through the boring way to do that first, to show where everything is at. ;P
The Marking Menu Editor is located in the WIndow>Settings/preferences>Marking Menu Editor
For my example I will make a menu for my UI menu items. I dont know about you, but I instantly got tired of searching for all these windows throughout the interface. It was an absolute pain in the ass, and took up so much time because I kept forgetting where they were located.
Here is a rundown of what you will be looking at when opening the MME (Marking Menu Editor).
After familiarizing yourself with the MME UI, you can start adding items to your menu navigation. The easiest way to go about adding tools in is by putting it on your shelf first. Easily done by going through the menus holding Ctrl+Shift and clicking on the item you want to add onto the shelf.
After setting up your shelf, you can then Middle Mouse Drag the tool into the empty squares of the marking menu editor, to make something similar visually like the menu below. The marking menu opens up radially, so plan out which way you want each item to pop out.
When you are satisfied with your marking menu, make sure to hit save. One more thing to do while your MME is still open, make sure to turn on the hotkey editor setting, so that it will appear in that window.
Now open up the hotkey editor to make this menu work.
Hot key editor
If you haven’t familiarized yourself with the hotkey editor, spend sometime searching for tools and figuring out where some of them are located. I use this to find actual tool names for scripting simple techniques as well.
Your hotkey editor is located in Window>Settings/Preferences>Hotkey Editor
In here you will find a whole list of Maya’s interface items organized in a list where you can either add or change hotkeys. For the marking menu, we want to add a hotkey to easily bring up the menu when working. To do this, scroll down to the bottom of the list to User Marking Menus. Example is listed below.
After you applied your hotkey to your marking menu you can then now have some fun. Hold your trigger keys that you assigned then hold the left click to see your menu pop up.
Congrats! You just made your own Marking menu!
A more advance use of this would be to put multiple marking menus within the one menu. Dont try to overdo it though. I tend to only go 3 menus deep total, otherwise you might get lost in your pen flicks. To edit your marking menu and add in multiple tools, you can do so by opening up the MM editor, select your MM you want to affect, and hit Edit Marking Menu.
In here, you can add a submenu, which allows you to put even more tools within the menu, click Popup Submenu and another window will open up. For example, you can see below, there are many cube sub items within the cube menu.
*Word of caution: make sure you are editing the right item. If you click popup submenu over one of your already working tools, it may delete the item and can only be reverted by either rebuilding the menu or reopening the submenu that was previously save.
And with this, I will segway into some of my menus below, showing some more examples of submenus
1. Poly Primitives
Of course it depends what type of primitives you use frequently and what is worth putting on your menus. Having both the primitives plus their variant sizes and division levels allows me to make an initial base mesh instantly, instead of having to fumble through the settings in the channel editor. To achieve this, you will use the initial primitive output as your base, and do the size adjustments within the line of text where you will input in the Marking Menu > Edit Menu Item command box. Which is also shown in the previous image above.
To get the location of the strings, open up the Script editor and click to create an initial cube. The action will always be at the beginning of the string, then the variables will follow after, and the string will end with the ";" symbol. That is what you will copy from the script editor and adjust.
For ex. a generic 1x1x1 cube looks something like this in the script editor.
You can then use that line, and replace numbers based on the look you want for the cube. Example below, I changed the height and the subdiv y settings to 2, giving me a cube that is twice as high and had two divisions.
The possibilities are endless, just don't go too crazy, because you may forget where things are located if the menu gets too busy
This here is my full marking menu for poly primitives. Which all use 3 pen flicks at most. From what you learned from above, it is actually quite easy to get the primitive setup within your marking menus. It just takes time.
This menu is mainly for my most used primitives/ division levels. It is based on the unit settings established in the maya file ( mine is usually set to cm unless told otherwise).
2. Modeling Tools Set 1
This one is probably my most used menu, which consists of a lot of poly editing tools.
3. Modeling Tools Set 2
This is more of my model clean up menu.
4. Modeling Tools Set 3
This one is more extensive because there are a lot of random tools that I use for modeling on occasion, and it makes it easier to view with the use of one button.
There are a lot of ways you can select something in maya, and I found it a lot easier to just toggle through a marking menu. Each of these are scatter throughout the interface.
6. UV Mapping
7. Cameras and Lights
8. File Options
9. UI Menus
I hope this tutorial helps you and makes 3d modeling even more enjoyable than before. If you have any questions or would like me to elaborate on some of the parts, feel free to contact me through email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading!
Last updated April 02, 2015