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Maya: Complete Guide to Extrude Along a Curve Techniques and Tips (Perfect for Wires, Cables, Ropes, Branches)

Category: Maya
April 27, 2023

Extrude Along a Curve is a modeling technique used to create cables, ropes, wires, tentacles, branches and more.

You draw a curve then you extrude a set of faces to follow that curve to create your polygonal shape.

In this tutorial you will learn how to use Extrude Along a Curve technique and additional tricks and secrets that I haven't seen shared...

Video Tutorial

The Basics of Creating Curves

You need to create a curve along which the extrusion will be made.

Go to Create > Curve Tools:

You will have a lot of curves to choose from. Start with either EP or CV Curve Tool. The one I recommend and use is EP Curve.

The difference between all these Curves is how they will be created and their control points. But in the end they are all the same type of curve. Only how they are created and controlled is different.

  • Left-Click to place the first curve point
  • You will need at least 3 curve points to make a curve
  • Once you have 3 or more points placed, press Enter
  • All curves drawn will be created on top of the grid

Pivot point will always be at the world origin, regardless where you've drawn the curve:

You can modify the curve's pivot point by using the same shortcut keys for polygon objects:

  • Hold D then X and Middle Mouse Click Drag = Snap Pivot Point to the Grid
  • Hold D then C and Middle Mouse Click Drag = Snap Pivot Point to Curves/Edges
  • Hold D then V and Middle Mouse Click Drag = Snap Pivot Point to a Vertex

Right-Click on the Curve to see Component Mode for the curve:

Use Control Vertex to modify the curve points and reshape it:

Go back to Object Mode once done.

If you ever need to make a curve linear or straight go to Curve Tool Options and choose Curve Degree to 1 Linear:

Extrude Along a Curve Technique

To Extrude Along a Curve you need two things:

  • Curve (use EP Curve)
  • Faces of polygon object

Step 1: Create the Curve

Step 2: Create a primitive polygon shape or existing geometry

Step 3: Position the object near the start of a curve

Step 4: Select the faces on the object you want to Extrude

Step 5: Shift select the Curve

Step 6: Edit Mesh > Extrude (Ctrl + E) and Add Divisions

Two Important Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Select faces first, curve second then Extrude.
  • Places the faces to be Extruded at the beginning of a curve, not at the end. Beginning of a curve is where you started drawing the curve.

As long as you keep history on the object, select Curve and its Control Points and Modify the Vertex Control Points to edit the shape and the extrusion

You may still edit the Curve Vertices and the extruded shape will be updated:

Once you Delete History on the object, the curve is no longer attached and won't update the extruded shape. Keep the history as long as you need but at some point I recommend Deleting History on the object.

You can also Twist and Taper the extrusion. Access these inside the Channel Box Input:

Or add these options into the Extrude floating window by clicking on the small icon at top right then enable Twist and Taper:

Reversing Curve Direction

If you Extrude Along a Curve and getting this result, this means you are extruding from the wrong end of the curve:

You need to reverse direction of the curve by going to Curve > Reverse Direction:

Then extrude again and it will work.

Tricks and Secrets

Here are few useful tricks and secrets.

Convert Edges to a Curve

Select edges on an object you want to become a curve then go to Modify > Convert > Polygon Edges to Curve:

Selected edges will now become a curve for you to extrude along.

Extruding Shapes

You can select any faces you want to extrude along a curve.

Here is a hollow shape extruded:

Snapping Curves on Objects

You can snap a curve onto another object as you create it.

Hold C or V then Left-Click on another object to have that curve snap to an edge (C) or to a vertex (V).

  • Hold C or V = Snap Curve Points to Edges or Vertices

Find a Center of a Face

Sometimes you want to snap a curve to a center of single face. But that quad doesn't have something to snap to. You can temporarily create a vertex to snap to by using Poke.

Select a single quad and go to Edit Mesh > Poke:

This will give you a vertex in the center of the face to snap a curve to, then you can delete those extra edges.

Maya Foundation Home Study Course

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About World of Level Design

My name is AlexG. I am self-taught level designer, game environment artist and the creator of World of Level Design.com. I've learned everything I know from personal experimentation and decades of being around various online communities of fellow environment artist and level designers. On World of Level Design you will find tutorials to make you become the best level designer and game environment artist.

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