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Tutorial: Maya – How to select and manipulate objects.

Updated: Jul 16, 2023

(Noted from Lynda Tutorial)


Selection tool: Q

Left Click to select an object. Click empty space or another object to deselect it.

Shift + L Click to select multiple items. Will also deselect individual items from a multiple selection

You can click and drag a marquee over objects to select them. Underneath Select tool is Lasso tool for making odd selection shapes. NB – doesnt need to comletely suround an object. just touch it.

Alt D: Deselect all.

Ctrl + Shift + I: to select inverse.

Move Tool: W


With an object selected, Click on an arrow to move in that axis. Unlike 3DS Max’ yellow triangles, click on the little coloured squares to move on that plane perpendicular to the same coloured axis.

Double Click on the Move tool and we can open move settings. Here we can switch axes from World orientation to Object orientation.

We can also activate a soft selection mode from here where we can move multiple objects. Global mode will skew objects, whereas object mode will keep their proportions but space them apart.

Rotate Tool: E

Maya uses the same circular axes gizmos to rotate objects that 3DS Max does. The outermost ring allows you to rotate the object at an axis perpendicular to the camera itself.

Similar to the move tool, we can get rotation settings by double clicking on it – allowing us to get object or world orientation for the axes. Note that in object mode, rotating objects will rotate them around their own individual axes, not as a group.

Scale tool: R

Scale works similarly to move and rotate – gizmo controls allow you to scale to individual axes.


The pivot point for an object defaults to the centre of its mesh.

If an objects pivot is off centre and you want to reset it, go to Modify > Centre Pivot.

Press the D key to open a special gizmo that can both rotate and move an objects Pivot, for manual repositioning.


If you need to precisely manipulate an object, this can be done in the channel box, located on the right of the screen. Here numerical values for each axis are displayed.


The bold text above is the name of the object. click on it to change it.

If you highlight a propety and drag the middle mouse button over an empty patch of 3D space, you can slide the value up or down. This works for multiple selected values at once.



The attribute editor is another tab on the right hand side of the screen. Here you can still change position, rotation data etc, but there are also separate tabs for each material applied to an object. These tabs are referred to as ‘nodes’.

The first node generally deals with positional data of the object. The second node is the shape node, for altering properties for the geometry of the object – smoothing, rendering options etc.

Adding modifiers or materials to an object will add new node tabs to the attribute editor.


We can set the default position of an object in world space (in essence, its 0,0,0 space) by going to Modify > Freeze Transformations. Note that this can also reset its default scale to 1, no matter what size it was.

If you move an object and want it back to its original position, you can select its attributes and change them back to 0.

Alternatively you can go to Modify > Reset Transformations, but this also has the effect of moving the objects pivot point to the origin point in world space, which you may not want.


Snapping is when we position an object to a precise location, such as a grid point, or vertex on another object. To activate snapping, click one of the little magnet icons along the top toolbar.

Note that when activated, an objects pivot point will change from asquare to a circular gizmo icon.


Edit > Duplicate or Ctrl + D can duplicate a selected object.

If you move the duplicate along (say as part of a row of chairs) then select Edit > Duplicate with Transform, a further duplicate will be produced, moved by the same amount.

Edit > Duplicate Special is where we can create an array – to automatically duplicate and transform an object multiple times. Click the little square box icon beside it to open the settings box and actually set up the array.

From this box, click the ‘Duplicate Special’ button to see the array.

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