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Maya: How to Create Spiral Geometry Along the Curve (Works for Wires, Chains and More)

Category: Maya
June 29, 2023

Creating simple wires or cables that follow a curve is simple. You either use Extrude Along the Curve or Sweep Mesh.

But how do you create more complex geometry to follow a curve such as spiral wires or chains?

The answer is to use some of the Maya's animation tools.

Video Tutorial

Step 1: Create a Curve

First you will need to have a curve.

Go to Create > Curve Tools and create a CV or EP Curve.

Draw the curve shape you need. Eventually this will have a spiral wire or chain follow the curve.

Step 2: Create the Geometry

Next create the geometry that will be used for your object. For spiral wires use Helix primitive shape.

Create > Polygon Primitive > Helix:

Define various settings for it in the Inputs:

Make the geometry as lengthy as you need it to fit along the curve. Make it bigger than it needs to be because you can always delete geometry you won't need.

Remember: this will be your final geometry, so make the settings reflect that.

Step 3: Attach to Motion Path

Now we can attach the geometry to the curve.

Select the Curve first and Helix geometry second:

Change to Animation:

Go to Constrain > Motion Paths: Attach to Motion Path Options:

Set the Options to:

  • Time Range: Time Slider
  • Front Axis: Y
  • Up Axis: X

Click Attach.

Move Time Slider to see the geometry follow the path:

Step 4: Flow Path Object

Select the Helix geometry and choose Constrain > Flow Path Object with default settings. Move Time Slider to make the object follow the curve.

There won't be enough divisions so go to Inputs and increase T Divisions:

Step 5: Final Geometry

As long as you still have history on the object, you will be able to adjust the Curve and scrub the Time Slider to change the position of the geometry along the path.

Once done with position, Delete History on the object.

Important: you will have animation tied to the geometry. If you move the Time Slider, the geometry will move as well. If you don't want this, Duplicate the geometry to make it a Static Object.

Delete any hidden extra faces that are inside the object.

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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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