Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Maya selecting the Shape node instead of the transform node

Sometimes, I wonder what's going on in the head of the people at Autodesk, because for some reason, Maya or 3dsMax behave in a very weird, non intuitive way.

I came across a problem the other day with Maya, when I was trying to select my controls to animate a rig, but every time I click on the control in the viewport I would select the Shape node instead of the transform node. The curve ball here is that I could still select the control through the outliner or the rig's selection tool (those small windows were you have all the controls for the rig).

After 10 minutes digging into Maya's settings and preferences, I decided to call for help, and I did what every animator should do in case of emergency: Ask Google.

I find this little thread in an Autodesk forum. Basically, it says that whenever you want to select an object that is locked through a layer, you will select the shape instead of the transform. Go figure!

The thing is most splines used as controls in a rig are basically made of two objects (or nodes): the shape and the transform. If you don't believe me, check your outliner, right-click on it and select "Show Shapes" (if it's not already active) and you'll see that every control is made of a transform node (top node) and the shape (child). So generally, by clicking on the object itself on the viewport, we're selecting the transform node, which is the one we animate. Since the transform nodes are the ones that go into the layers, whenever that layer is locked, Maya selects the shape instead, which IMO is useless.

Anyhow, it wasn't Maya's fault, it was my fault for inadvertly locking the control layer of the rig. My bad.


Yonni Aroussi said...

I have asked google and found your answer :)

aboudiamond.blogspot.com said...

Same here, locked the layer and restart maya 3 times wondering why i cant select the shape node…
Useful lil' post

Grieever said...

Very useful. Thank You, I was really having a bad moment with this issue.


Unknown said...

So I just ran across this same issue, however I have NO LAYERS in my scene. I'm banging my head against my keyboard.

With certain controls I do get the transforms, while others I get the shape.

Ricardo Ayasta said...

Hello Fabian,

For those shapes that you can't select the transform node, have you checked that there actually is a transform node? I don't know which rig you're using, but it might not be consistent.

Other than that, I can't think of anything else. I'll let you know if something comes up to my mind, but if you find the solution to the problem, it'd be cool to share your solution here in the comments!

Good luck!

Unknown said...


So I've figured out the issue, on the root control of the character I had drawing overrides turned on and set to reference. When I turned that off I could select the transform of the control again.

This fits in with your original solution since maya layers are actually controlling the drawing overrides of the objects that are part of them.

Also this only affects transform, not shapes, because drawing overrides of transforms get inherited, whereas shapes don't.

Ricardo Ayasta said...

Thanks for sharing the solution to the problem and for the explanation fo how layers work. I hope it will help someone that has a similar problem.

Danilo said...

Thanks ALOOOOTTT, it was driving me CRAZYYYYY

Ernie said...

This may all be fine, but no one answers to the fact that when an object is added to a layer that's set to Template or Reference, because I DON'T want it selected, just viewable, it now still selects the shape node. How is this a good thing? And how can we get Maya working like it used to so I can use layers again properly, instead of this broken junk.

I also have to manually break the connections to my "Enable Overrides" attribute on the transform afterwards, or it's stuck that way. I'm only using the layers the way I always have with no problem up until now. I'm not doing anything fancy, just adding objects to layers.

Anyone have any ideas how to get it working properly again?

Oak said...

Thanks a ton man. Usually these weird Maya issues take hours to figure out but thanks to your little post it took minutes :)

Unknown said...

Oh my goodness, I am learning Maya and I have had a problem about seeing the transform node with the shape node in my outliner (I basically couldn't). I never thought that it was as simple as turning on Shapes under display in my outliner (again, I'm super beginner). Thank you so much for posting this blog because I would have never been able to solve my problem!

Unknown said...

Thank you. I had a problem too.