Organizing your work

From TOI-Pedia


As with any computer program, it's important to keep your work organized. This is especially true when working with complicated [[Maya] scenes that include texture files. A texture file is usually a .JPEG image of a material (for instance a brick wall). It's important to keep all these separate files together otherwise Maya won't be able to find them. There for you need to set your project and organize your scene by using convenient naming of the objects and by using layers and groups. Don't just use one of these methods to organize, but use a combination to be able to handle your scene with the optimal ease.


A Maya project can consist of many files in various categories. To keep all this data structured, Maya uses a defined project structure. It is important to use a Project to make sure all relevant data can always be located. You may run into trouble, especially with file textures when you don't use this structure or when you forget to Set your project.

Some typical locations for different types of files within your project

Maya scene files (.mb) are stored in the scenes/ directory.
all pictures used as file textures are stored here.
all rendered images data are store by Maya are saved here.

Starting a new Project

  1. Go to File » Project Window
  2. Click New
  3. Enter a name (Current Project field)
  4. Choose a location by clicking on the folder icon.
  5. Click Accept

Continuing an existing Project

Every time you start Maya, the first step is to tell Maya which project you're working on:

  1. Go to File » Set Project
  2. Choose the folder in which your Maya project reside. This would be the directory with your project name that is created by Maya when you start a new project.
When you've worked on a project before on a specific computer, you can select it from the Recent Projects list in the File menu

File Management

Now that you know how to set a project it's time to look at some basic rules of file management. By following these rules you'll be sure that you keep your work organized and efficient.

Beginning a project

First, set your project. (by setting a project Maya knows the location where all files of your project should be saved and files will automatically be placed (and found) in a proper location)

Don't use spaces in file names (spaces aren't always supported properly, for example when using batch rendering).

Always use comprehensible file names:




The description should point out whether a file is relevant for the current project. De description 'construction' helps other people that work on the project to identify the contents of a specific file. By including the authors name, everyone knows who to address when there's a problem. The date shows when a file was last modified and whether or not a file contains information that is up to date. Adding a version number refines this, so different versions can be saved for a specific date.

When file referencing is used, it's more convenient to strip the date and version number. Nevertheless it's recommended to use a date and version number for archived files. The file that should be used for referencing could be named filename_current.mb.

File textures

Use clear names for file textures.


Textures: filetype and resolution

Save textures as JPG (non progressive!) using maximum quality (minimum compression).

The resolution depends on the desired quality and the size of the texture in the final render. Use very large textures with caution: it can negatively affect the render speed. Use resolutions between 640-480 and max. 1600-1200. Higher resolutions should only be used exceptionally.

Store textures in the sourceimages directory of the Maya project, so NOT in the textures directory!


The layer box in Maya can be found under the channel box. Layers are very convenient to work with as you can organize your scene, assign colors to them, you can turn them on and off, you can select all objects in it all in once, etc.

You can create a new layer by going to layers > create empty layer or clicking on the new layer icon:


You can change the name and properties of this layer by double clicking it and adjusting the name and color (the color will be visible in wireframe mode, it is not a way to assign a color to your geometry!):


If you want to use colors it is easiest to not use the first 5 bottom colors because Maya itself uses these colors to indicate selections etc, so this can cause some confusion.

To get the objects in the created layers you select the objects, then click on the layer with the right mouse button and let go above 'add selected objects'.

You can remove a selected object from a layer by doing the same but letting go above 'remove selected objects'. To remove all objects from this layer let go above 'empty layer' and to delete the layer let go above 'delete layer'.

If you want to delete a layer you can right click on the layer and let go above delete layer. If the layer has objects in it, the objects will become layer-less again.

Putting all objects in layers in a logical way will make working in Maya easier because now you can for instance make all objects in a layer invisible, shown as a template or as a reference. To make the objects in a layer invisible by clicking on the V in the first box next to the layername. To make a layer function as a template click on the second box (the empty one) next to the layername until it shows a T. Now only the objects' outline can still be seen and you cannot select or do anything with these objects. To make a layer function as a reference click on the same box again until it shows an R. Every object in the layer will still be visible and it is possible to snap to components of the objects, but you cannot select or adjust them.


You can also select all objects in a layer in once. You select the layer by clicking on it so it will be marked with blue (you can select a second layer by pressing shift and clicking on the second layer) and then go to layers > select objects in selected layers:


In this menu you can also delete all unused layers. Check out the other options in this menu too.


Groups are also very useful to help to organize your scene. It is wise to group together the objects that you need to move, scale, rotate or adjust in some other way together as a whole, you could for instance group together a glass panel with its framing. Mind that grouping objects doesn't turn them into 1 object. To group objects together, select all the objects and go to edit > group:


Give the group a convenient name in the channelbox. You can now select this group by going to hierarchy mode:


In this hierarchy mode you can only select groups, so if you want to select single objects again go back to object mode (the button on the right side of the hierarchy mode). You can also see and select the group in your outliner:


You can now also see why it's so important that you give your groups and objects logical names. Another way to select a group is by selecting an object belonging to the group you want to select and then pressing the arrow up on your keyboard.


To keep your scene orderly it's important to pay some attention to the naming of your objects and groups. If there are a lot of objects in your scene this can help you retrieve objects or groups in the outliner more easily.

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