What I am going to cover in this tutorial is taking a drawing or a sketch, importing that into Maya as a texture, applying that onto a plane and beginning to model a basic block in environment.
So lets start.
This is my top down drawing I am going to import and use as a reference to build from.
You don't have to have anything fancy, as you can see this is just a top down view of my environment, very loose and sketchy.
Here I have a texture that is 800x800 at 72 dpi. Size here doesn't matter, but I tend to keep the dimensions square.
Keeping everything organized. Lets set up a new project folder.
File --> Project --> New
Change the name to something more reasonable and click on Use Defaults. That will create all the necessary folders for you.
Now every time you save your model, Maya will save it in appropriate directory, it will reference your textures in source images folder. This way you can keep everything organized.
Now we start with a blank canvas.
Create a cube and set its height to what the scale of a human would be. This will depend on the game engine you are using. All of them will have a different scale set when modeling in maya or max. If you are importing this into a game engine to check the scale setup.
For example in Unreal 3, Maya units and Unreal units are the same. So if I create a box with 96 units height in Maya and export it to unreal it will match the character's height exactly.
So make sure you check with your game engine.
Now, create a plane.
Create --> Polygons --> Plane.
Uniformly scale it so it holds the square dimensions. That is why I had my texture at 800x800. You can save your texture at 1000x1000 or other size, just keep it at square, its easier to apply.
Open Hypershade editor.
Windows --> Rendering Editors --> Hypershade
This is where we will create and assign a texture to our plane.
Create a new Lambert material by clicking on the left hand side of the Hypershade. Lambert2 will pop up in the work window.
Double click on the lambert2 and the attribute editor will expend on the right side.
Click on the checkered color tab.
New window pops up asking you what do you want to do with the color property.
We want to assign a texture from a file. Click on the file tab.
Now the attribute editor window displays a new selection. Click on the folder to specify the texture we want.
You should save all of your textures inside your projects folder, in the sourceimages folder.
So if you haven't done so already, move your top down drawing to this folder. It will just keep everything organized and easier for you and Maya.
You don't have to and it will work by navigating outside the project folder but it is good practice to keep everything under one roof.
Go inside your source images folder and double click on the texture. It wil now apply it to our lambert shader. Now we have our texture inside Maya.
Middle Mouse Click and Hold on the lambert shader and drag and drop over and onto the plane to assign the texture.
If you can see the texture press number 6 on the keyboard to see textured view.
At this point what I did was I scaled the plane to match the human scale I have placed in the scene.
Now, we can start creating our blocked in city block environment.
You have an option creating a cube and modeling it this way.
But there is a better and more intuitive way of doing so, and it is Create Poly Tool.
Make sure you have polygon selected under drop down menu and go to
Mesh --> Create Polygon Tool
Now go to Top view in the viewports and begin to draw by clicking and referencing the plane. Don't worry if it looks weird when you click to create you polygons, it often look weird until you have most of the shape created. Once you like it where it is click enter to complete the creation process.
This is what I ended up with.
Also as you create your polygons if you press shift as you click it will keep the lines straight during the creation process. So hold shift key as you create your polygons using Create Polygon Tool for straight lines.
I then used the split polygon tool to make sure everything was in quads and not 5 plus sided polygons. Then by selecting each individual face I was able to Extrude the faces by going to
Edit Mesh --> Extrude