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Tutorials to Becoming the Best Level Designer and Game Environment Artist (since 2008)

Maya LT/Maya: Viewport Viewing Options for Modeling - Beginner Tutorial Series 5/13

Category: Maya LT/Maya
September 10, 2016

The following tutorial is directly from Module 1 of 3 in "3D Game Environment Modeling Foundation" series. I've released this first Module completely free. It is focused on teaching you how to get started with interface overview in Maya LT/Maya specifically for game environment artist.

  • First Module is focused on interface overview for game environment modeling (start here).
  • Second Module is focused on game environment modeling techniques.
  • Third Module is focused on UV mapping, UV unwrapping and UVing.

The full series is designed for game environment artist to learn Maya LT or Maya specifically for modeling and UVing game environment art.

The entire "3D Game Environment Modeling Foundation" tutorial series contains 9 hours, 53 videos and all 3 modules.

Following free 1st module features 13 video tutorials. You can start from the beginning here and watch all videos sequentially.

Each viewport contains a lot of various options to help you model geometry.

You only need to know a few to start with for game environment modeling.

Setting Up Viewport for Modeling

First thing you should enable is "Wireframe on Shaded". This is very useful for modeling.

Click on "Wireframe on Shaded" icon in Perspective Viewport:

Next 3 important viewing options are "Wireframe", "Smooth Shade All" and "Shaded View Textured":

You can left click on each icon to activate it but shortcut keys are faster for workflow:

  • 4 = wireframe view
  • 5 = smooth shade all view
  • 6 = shaded view textured

Wireframe View:

Smooth Shade View:

Shaded View Textured:

There is also "Use All Lights" view, but you won't be lighting your scenes in Maya LT/Maya, as it will be done inside the game engine.

During beginning stages of game environment modeling activate the following:

  • 5 for Smooth Shaded View (should be On by default)
  • Wireframe on Shaded

Side note: 1, 2 or 3 keys will preview Smoothness, if you click on them by accident your object will change shape drastically. Select the object and press 1 to set it back to normal.

X-Ray View

Unlike Wireframe view, X-Ray view will make your objects in the scene semi-transparent.

Activate X-Ray view from viewport toolbar:

X-Ray view is often used for modeling objects.

Orthographic Viewports - Wireframe

By default, orthographic viewports will be set to "Smooth Shade All":

It's recommended to switch all orthographic views to Wireframe.

Switch to Four Viewport layout, hover your mouse over each orthographic viewport and press 4 for Wireframe:

Adjust Viewport Background Color

Default viewport background may not be what you like. Press Alt+B to switch between 4 different options:

  • Alt + B = switch between different background viewport options

For more customization go to Window > Settings/Preferences > Color Settings:

3D Views:

Exposure and Gamma Adjustment

Quick and useful way to control brightness within a specific viewport is to adjust Exposure and Gamma.

Inside each viewport you will see input controls for both:

Change one or both to set a different Exposure and Gamma.

Defaults are:

  • Exposure: 0.00
  • Gamma: 1.00


  • Exposure: 1.00
  • Gamma: 1.2

Enable/Disable Grid: On/Off

Sometimes you'll need to disable grid from displaying in viewport to better see your model such as when you need to check bottom of the object.

Click on "Grid" icon to cycle it on/off:

Isolate Select

Isolate Select is extremely helpful for game environment modeling.

If you have multiple objects in the scene but you need to hide everything else from view except for one object you are working on, use "Isolate Select".

Select the object you want to keep in view and click on "Isolate Select":

Everything else will be hidden except the selected object:

When you need to show all, click on "Isolate Select" again.

Seeing what is inside the viewport is important, but what's more important is being able to use Maya LT/Maya for game environment modeling.


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About World of Level Design

My name is Alex Galuzin. 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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