Using The Viewport
This tutorial will be covering how to use the texture viewing, fog, real time lighting, shadows, and high-quality viewport.
Download this scene file. It includes the examples. This scene has one sphere with a checkerboard bump map attached to it, another one is colored with a checkerboard, and another one is colored red. It also includes one spotlight with shadows on and a directional light (no shadows) that's shining upwards to simulate light bouncing back from the spotlight.
Set the menu set to polygons.
All of the features are toggles. In other words, to turn them on, click on them (it will be checked), to turn them off, click on them again (it will be unchecked).
This section covers shading.
First let's go into basics of using the viewport: wire frames, shading, etc.
To go to shaded view, go to shading>smooth shade all.
Now go to shading>smooth shade selected items. It will seem to go to wire frame view. But if you select one of the spheres, it will become shaded.
Now go to shading>flat shade all. You'll notice the spheres will become choppy and lose their smoothness. This is because, by using normals (not covered in this tutorial), Maya will smooth out the edges.
Flat shade selected items work just like smooth shade selected items.
No, this didn't turn your model into a box. Bounding boxes are cubes that are the same size as the original object. All renderable objects have bounding boxes.
This mode will only display an objects points (on a polygon object, this would be a model's vertices).
Notice how the red sphere turns gray. That's because it takes all the objects and displays them with the default Lambert gray.
Not a whole lot to explain.
This makes the objects transparent.
First let me explain the interactive shading. Whenever you move the camera, this will switch you to the predefined interactive shading mode. And when you stop moving the camera, it will go back to the previous shading mode. The reason one would turn this option on is to lighten the load on the GPU (graphics processing unit). If we set our interactive shading mode to bounding box (the most GPU efficient) and click close, when we move our camera (using tumble, track, dolly, etc. tool), the viewport will change to bounding box mode, and when we stop it will go back to smooth shading mode.
Now go to shading>smooth wireframe (it's best to be in wireframe mode to see it).
Basically does what it says.
Texture In The Viewport
In the beginning of the tutorial I mentioned that the center sphere has a checkerboard texture (color) assigned to it. You can't see this unless you render it.
To display this texture in the viewport, go to shading>hardware texturing... Once again, open the options.
Texture Blending - You have two options: multiply and over. Set it to multiply and you'll be able to see the surface shaded with the texture on top.
Texture Filter - I recommend you read this tutorial.Link
High-Quality Filtering - Does what it says.
You can simulate fog in the Maya viewport by going to shading>hardware fog... Open the options.
Falloff - You have 3 methods. Linear, exponential, exponential squared. Linear enables the options start and end.
Start defines how far away from the camera the screen will start turning to fog, and end defines when it will be completely fog.
Color - This is the color of the fog.
Maya lets you see the lights in the scene in real-time in the viewport.
The results are pretty close to the rendering, but the spotlight's edges are very rough.
This is because this feature uses per-vertex lighting.
A way of enhancing the edges is to add more vertices to the polygonal plane since this is where we can see this issue the most.
Set the division levels to 4 and click add divisions.
You can also use only selected lights. Go to lighting>use selected lights. Now select the spotlight. Now the spotlight will light to viewport. Deselect it and it will go back to black.
Shadows can also be viewed in the viewport. Go to lighting and click on shadows.
High Quality Rendering
You can bump up the quality of the viewport by going to renderer>high quality rendering... Open the options.
Low Quality Lighting - This sets the lighting to per-vertex lighting. In other words, very similar to what the viewport was already using. In other words, pointless.
As you can see, the bump map that's assigned to the first sphere can now be viewed in the viewport.
There are some common keyword shortcuts used for all the features above.
The graphics card and driver that you have defines the look and the results, so yours might look different from mine. Some graphics cards won't support any of these features.
I hope this tutorial taught you how to use the Maya viewport.