View Cart
Category Tutorial TopicsLevel DesignUnreal Engine 4UDKCryEngine 3 SDKGame Modeling: MayaCounter-Strike: Global OffensiveLeft4Dead 1 and 2Time Management and ProductivityGame Environment Art+DesignGetting StartedBrowse Full Tutorial List

Maya Beginner Basics: Custom Shelf

Category: 3D Modeling: Maya
September 19, 2010
Full Text Tutorial and Notes:

Maya Beginner Basics

The following is a 10-Part series on Maya Beginner Basics. The tutorials are set up in-specific to game environment modeling.

Maya Custom Shelf tutorial covers the basics of how to set up a custom tool shelf in Maya for game environment modeling.

Tutorial covers:

  • Tool Shelf Editor
  • Setting Up a Custom Tool Shelf
  • Adding Modeling Functions to Your Tool Shelf
  • Deleting and Moving Items on Your Tool Shelf
  • Access Options from Your Tool Shelf


Tool shelf allows you to access most commonly used functions within Maya.

By default, Maya comes with pre-set tool shelf.

Maya Beginner Basics


Shelf editor includes various options of creating new shelves and editing current shelves.

Click and hold on the upside down triangle and choose Shelf Editor.

Maya Beginner Basics

Shelf Editor allows to rename, add/delete, change icons, backgrounds etc. What we want right now is to simply set up our own custom tool shelf.

Maya Beginner Basics


Setting up a custom tool shelf gives us more control of what to include.

You can set up a custom tool shelf using the Shelf Editor.

Click and hold on the upside down triangle and choose New Shelf.

Maya Beginner Basics

Maya Beginner Basics


Lets add some commonly used functions for modeling game environments. Make sure you have Polygons selected.

Maya Beginner Basics

To add functions first hold down Ctrl+Shift. As you keeping these two keys down, go up to any drop down menus and begin selecting functions. They will begin to appear on your custom tool shelf.

Add the following:

  • Create Polygon Tool
  • Sculpt Geometry Tool
  • Extrude
  • Append to Polygon Tool
  • Cut Faces Tool
  • Split Polygon Tool
  • Insert Edge Loop Tool
  • Merge Vertex/Edge Tool
  • Basic Shapes such as Sphere, Cube, Plane and Cylinder

There will be more functions added later as we begin to model game environments.


Moving icons on your tool shelf is simple. You can either go to Shelf Editor or simply MMB Click and Hold on the icon and drag it to new location on the shelf.

Maya Beginner Basics


Deleting icons from your tool shelf is simple as well. You can delete it by going to Shelf Editor or simply MMB Click, Hold and Drag the unwanted icon over the trash can on the right hand side of your tool shelf.

Maya Beginner Basics


Many functions in Maya have options, allowing to modify how that function behaves. You will notice that many drop down functions on your Menu List have a square box off to the side. This means that this function has options for you to set, if you need it.

Maya Beginner Basics

If you already placed the function on your toolshelf, you can access the option box by simply double clicking on the icon from your tool shelf.

Maya Beginner Basics

10-Part Maya Beginner Basics Series:

1. Interface Overview
2. Setting Preferences
3. How to Create a Custom Shelf
4. Viewport Navigation
5. Geometry Modeling Basics
6. Geometry Modeling Basics - Exercise
7. Custom Polygon Display
8. Outliner, Hypergraph and Hypershade
9. Snapping and Pivots
10. How to Set Up a New Project

Updated & Revised - Preproduction Blueprint: How to Plan Your Game Environments and Level Designs

© 2008-2016. All articles on World of Level Design™ are copyrighted.
Not to be reproduced without prior written consent.