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How to solve a simple Move Tool problem in Autodesk Maya
Have you ever entertained a dark thought about what to do with Maya when this dear monster of a 3d package balks at you unexpectedly? I have.
Let's say you are a Maya newbie, or even an intermediate user, and so far, you are very happy with the way your 3d model has been morphing into something you can parade around for friends to see. You've also been telling yourself that once the model is completed, it might not be a bad idea to flaunt it in some 3d forum online. And why not - hey, your diligence is paying off handsomely, so much so you can hardly believe that from the rudiment of a boring primitive you once plunked onto your Maya scene, this thing is turning out to be mmuah!
But now Maya is acting up and has presented you a problem you have no idea of how to get around. And the problem is, whenever you select a single component like a vertex or an edge to translate it as depicted in Figure 1, instead of Maya acting on just the selected component, it translates the entire mesh. It's as if you are in object mode and you are translating the entire object, even though that's not what you intend (Figure 2).
To make matters worse, your woes with this weird behavior by Maya isn't just restricted to the Move Tool: the entire shebang of the translation tools (including the Rotate and Scale tools) has come under this awful spell. "Is it a bug?" you ask yourself. Did you, perhaps, tap a key on the keyboard or click on something unknowingly to which Maya responded with this? Or maybe, while you were away getting a lil somethin', your younger sibling was also busy clicking about in your Maya space and fingering the keyboard fiendishly and ended up upsetting the calm within Maya? Maybe.
But all of that is not nearly as important as your aching desire to get this over with. So now as you're humped over the keyboard with your poor mouse under a merciless sweaty palm, you are also simmering with frustration - which has led you in the direction of considering to venture into the Q & A sections of the online Maya community forums for help.
Relax. Before you throw at Maya any more of those familiar harsh epithets, or before you embark on that long trip into the forums, rest assured that the solution to this problem is simple and lies in the options window of any of the three translation tools. For this interaction, we will restrict ourselves to the Move Tool's options window. But if you choose to, you may go with either the Scale Tool or the Rotate Tool, as long as you can access the options window of the tool of your choice. It's all up to you.
So here we go: First, open up the options window of Maya's Move Tool. Do this by going to Modify > Transformation Tools > Move Tool > Options (Figure 3). (Usually, it's so much easier to open a tool's options window by double-clicking on the tool in the tools palette. So if you haven't, why don't you adapt this practise starting today?)
You now have the Move Tool options window up (Figure 4). Next, scroll down to the Soft Selection section in the window and click on the toggle triangle on the left to expand that section for its options (Figure 5).
Once that's done, you will notice that there's a check mark inside the Soft Select box. Click on it to disable it and proceed to close the options window (Figure 6). Now go back to your object in whatever view port in Maya you were working in and select the component you had wanted to move and move it now. Voila! Now the tool only affects the selected component(s) and everything else is left rooted in place (Figure 7).
That's all you needed to do. Had you known it, you wouldn't have wasted all those precious minutes fumbling around the interface and doing countless restart sessions of Maya just to see if it helps this time, would you? Well, now you know.
But before you head off in celebration, there's one more thing you need to do: pick up the hair you dumped on the floor and try to figure out what to do with it (sorry I'm unable to offer any help on how to place it back on your sore patch on the head. Nevertheless, good luck with your Maya escapades).