Top 18 tips to effectively use the software for Fluid Architectural Modelling

Create Marvels with Maya

Fri Dec 9, 2022

Have you recently stepped into the world of Fluid Architecture? Are you having a hard time getting your hands on the proper tools and softwares?

If you resonate with these scenarios, Maya is the solution to your problems. It is an animation software that helps you put a myriad of tools to use. Through the versatility and dynamism of Maya, you can curate designs by using solutions related to modelling, visual effects, animation, and rendering. This convenience that Maya adds to the process of Fluid Architectural Modelling is what makes it so popular.

What is Maya?

Fluid Architectural Modelling

A popularly used 3D software, Maya is used for a plethora of purposes. These range from curating realistic characters to putting together sprawling landscape designs. Currently owned and developed by Autodesk, Maya is most prominently used for 3D animation, modelling, texturing, simulation, rigging as well as rendering. 

The software entails rendering engines that facilitate the creation of top-notch designs. Besides that, it also allows third-party renderers that help you in experimenting with architectural designs. Using Maya you can onboard the world of fluid architectural modelling by creating, animating, and rendering your 3D scenes.

Why use Maya for Fluid Architecture Modelling?

Fluid Architectural Modelling_Maya

Think Parametric

Maya is an animation software equipped with tools that let you shape 3D objects and scenes with intuitive modelling solutions. It makes way for embedded intelligence and performative criteria to define complex parametric relationships and behaviour. These properties come together to provide a power-packed software that refines the process of fluid architectural modelling making it easier to learn and use.

Expressing the various uses of Maya in the Fluid Architecture fraternity, Irfan Bhakrani, Zaha Hadid Architects, London quotes, “Maya is a highly intuitive design tool primarily used for animation and sculpting organic forms. Over the years it has successfully found its place within architectural design workflows, enabling the user to generate complex geometries with ease hence accelerating and aiding the process of preliminary  form finding." 

Maya Core for Architects | Irfan Bhakrani | Zaha Hadid Architects | Futurly

Instructor | Irfan Bhakrani

He continues, "Based on its application Maya performs exceptionally well during the brainstorming process as well as the latter stages of design that require precision and finesse.” 

However, to obtain a productive workflow and utilise these solutions in the right way, you need to dive into the know-how of this software biggie. To make it easier for you, we have sorted some tips that can come in handy while using Maya for Fluid Architectural Modelling. 

Top 18 tips to effectively use Maya for Fluid Architectural Modelling

Futurly | Fluid Architectural Modelling_Maya 3d | Mariana Cabugueira

1. Maya is Case Sensitive

Maya has various hotkeys to simplify the workflow for its users. However, this feature might get messed up because of the fact that Maya is case sensitive. 

This means that you would have to keep the caps lock key in check while putting in different commands. Simply use the correct commands in accordance with the caps lock key and you are sorted. 

2.  Start by Creating Base Meshes

Creating a new base mesh when you want to opt for textures for every new geometry can be time-consuming. This can be made quicker with the “Texture to Geometry” tool.

Opt for the required texture, curate a new aspect plane and assign the texture to it. This will be followed by clicking modify and then choosing the convert option. Once this is done, find the input image and apply the “Texture to Geometry” tool. 

3. Always use Lattices

Lattices can save you from a lot of hassles while working on Maya. These facilitate the application of larger changes in a shorter span, thereby, helping you in experimenting more easily.

4. Switch between Viewports to ease your Workflow


Switching viewports can make your workflow smoother and easier. This can be done by putting the space bar to use. Tapping this key minimises your viewports. This helps in saving some seconds and makes the switching part quite seamless. 

5. Hotkeys help you save time

Shortcuts always come in handy when you want to make your workflow quicker and more efficient. These shortcuts in Maya are known as hotkeys. 

For example, Ctrl + C is a hotkey that helps in copying elements in a project.

6. Curate Custom Marking Menus

It is always better to have customised tools as per your project’s requirements. This is made possible with the help of the Marking Menu Editor option.

You can select this option from the Settings menu. Open the creator, drag the tools you need and save your custom tool shelf. With this, you will be able to create your customised tool shelves seamlessly.

Fluid Architectural Modelling


7. Isolate Objects to work on them individually

When you want to save yourself from the hassle of handling the entire model at once, this is a pro tip for you.
If you want to work on a single element, isolate the rest of the model and save time. You just need to select that particular element and press Ctrl + i. 

8. Save your Viewport Layouts

Saving viewport layouts means cutting down on the tedious process of creating them time and again during the modelling process. Go to the Window Menu and click on the “Save Current Layout” option. You can now name the viewport and access it from the “Saved Layouts” Panel at your convenience. 

9. Check Polycount often 

The more polygons in your project, the heavier or slower the workflow. Therefore, it is suggested that you keep a check on the polycount quite often. Turn on the Poly Count option in the Display Menu to keep an eye on the number of polygons and alter the complexity of your project.

10. Opt for Soft Selection

Fluid Architectural Modelling_Autodesk Maya


This one is a power-packed tool that can be put to use for refining models. Soft Select puts a falloff radius to every edge, face, and vertex in a particular selection. This means you can make changes in one vertex and see the effects on the other ones in the selection. Use the soft selection tool subtly and touch up things in the model.

11. Assign Material when things turn Green

If you notice certain green patches in your model, don’t worry. Such green patches indicate that the element you are looking at does not have a material assigned to it.

The green element might have been accidentally deleted during work. There is also a possibility that no material was assigned to it in the initial stage. This can be tackled by assigning material to that particular green patch before continuing with the modelling. 


12. Look out for Deformations

Checking for deformities is an essential step so that you can avoid any hassles in the further stages. If you keep the deformities in check since the initial stages, the outcome will be more refined.

This can be done by curating rigs for the models. Creating them on an initial level and performing tests can help you look out for any deformities that are present in the model. 

13. Work in Parts

This is a tip that will be your saving grace if you are into refining the details. Break the larger modules of your project into smaller elements.  With this you can detail out the constituent small parts, thereby, cutting down on the complexity of your project.

14. Create Copies using Duplicate Special

There is a great chance that you might find the need to copy certain elements throughout your model. This can be easily done by putting the “Duplicate Special” option to use. Just pick the element you want to copy and apply this option. You will have multiple duplicates of the chosen element. You also have the scope of experimenting with the scale and orientation of the duplicated members.

15. Smoothen using Relax Brush

Fluid Architectural Modelling


If you are facing issues with lumps in your model, the Relax brush could be your saviour. This tool facilitates the averaging of spaces between multiple vertices on the shape, thereby, cutting down on the lumps.
Select the desired element, right-click and opt for the Paint menu. This will be followed by choosing Sculpt and then the Relax brush. Move it over the desired surface to even out the lumps.

16. Model using Quads 

Maya allows you to play around with a plethora of shapes. This is made more seamless by putting quads to use. Quads help you in the subdivision of various elements. You can also achieve better results while adding textures to the model. 

Fluid Architectural Modelling

Source: Instructor | Irfan Bhakrani

Futury | Maya Core

17. Use Mental Ray for Rendering

“Maya collaborates with multiple rendering engines through installable plugins that aid the process of creating visuals via its interface.” quotes Irfan Bhakrani, Zaha Hadid Architects, London. Mental Ray facilitates the rendering of your Maya Projects. However, to use it properly you need to enable it from the Plug-in Manager. This can be accessed from the Preferences Menu. Enable the file named Mayatomr.mll and you are good to go. 

18. Save your File frequently 

You do not want to lose out on your work progress because of some slight errors. Therefore, saving your file frequently helps in keeping your model updated and saved to avoid the loss of data. This also facilitates an efficient workflow.

Summing up….

With all these tips and tricks, you will have a great time learning and accessing multiple tools on Maya. Even though it might seem a bit tricky at the start, the diversity allowed by Maya will be efficient and helpful while creating models that are nothing short of marvels.

You can make your learning quicker and better with the help of some basic tutorials. Platforms like Futurly help in grasping the basic concepts better, thereby, improving your knowledge and skill set that can cater well to the user interface of Maya.

FAQs: Maya Architectural Modelling

1. Why is Maya used in architecture?

Maya helps in purposes such as modelling, texturing and rendering which can be useful when it comes to architectural projects. This is why the software is used in architecture.

2. What are the advantages of Maya?

The following are the advantages of Maya:

  • Provision of multiple visual effects
  • Less complex to use
  • Allows scope for rendering, texturing, and rigging.
  • Entails built-in rendering engines
  • Easy to learn

3. What is the use of the relax brush in Maya?

If you are facing issues with lumps in your model, the Relax brush could be your saviour. This tool facilitates the averaging of spaces between multiple vertices on the shape, thereby, cutting down on the lumps. 

4. How is Mental Ray used in Maya?

Mental Ray facilitates the rendering of your Maya Projects. However, to use it properly you need to enable it from the Plug-in Manager. This can be accessed from the Preferences Menu. Enable the file named Mayatomr.mll and you are good to go. 

5. Is Autodesk Maya used in industry?

Yes, Autodesk Maya is popularly used in the 3D animation and fluid architecture industry.

Ar. Saili Sawantt_Architectural Journalist

Saili Sawantt
An Architect + Writer, Saili has worked as an Architectural writer & brand storyteller where she has collaborated with firms, studios, organizations, luxury brands, events & educational institutions to communicate in the real estate & travel industry. Her recent initiatives include curating an online workshop on communication and networking within the AEC industry. She is a commentator on the design industry’s upkeep through her social handles while also being an avid reader and traveler.