Modeling a Theme Park Ride in 3d with Maya (Beginner)
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Modeling a Theme Park Ride in 3d with Maya (Beginner)

Learn how to utilize various 3d modeling tools and methods in Maya to create a fun theme park ride - a ROLLER COASTER!
4.4 (18 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
832 students enrolled
Created by Virtual Dreamz
Last updated 4/2017
Current price: $10 Original price: $20 Discount: 50% off
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  • 15.5 hours on-demand video
  • 1 Article
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Learn how to create a cool roller coaster track and car
  • Learn how to create a fancy 3d sign / logo
  • Learn various modeling tools and methods
  • Learn why some methods were chosen over others
  • Learn how to use various deformers
View Curriculum
  • Maya 2013 (Preferred) Other Versions should be ok
  • Alternate 3d software may work as well
  • PC or MAC

In this Maya based course, we will cover various tools and methods to create our very own theme park ride, the roller coaster. We will focus on creating the ride itself, including the track, the car models, and , however within the bonus section we will also be creating some of the elements associated with theme park rides - walkways, trashcans, grass, gates, flags, and turnstiles.

This course is aimed at the beginner / intermediate Maya or 3D user, which means a very basic understanding of core 3d terminology and workflow is assumed. All other methods, tools, techniques and workflows, will be explained to the extent that an understanding of the "why" certain methods were used, will be gained. This will serve to deepen the knowledge of the tools/techniques and allow them to be used in the future on your own projects.

The style of this course will be both tool/technique and element/project based. What this means, is that not only will you learn how to use a particular tool or technique, but you will also put them to use by building various elements geared towards this project.

We will be utilizing Maya 2013 (recommended) for the duration of the course, however most of the methods and/or techniques can be completed in prior versions as well as many other 3d applications.

If you do NOT have Maya 2013, Autodesk offers educational versions of their software FREE of charge. Here is the link for more details:


  • Scene Files (Maya Specific)
  • Reference Images
  • Bonus Scene Files (Unspecific 3d format - OBJ, FBX, etc..)
  • Bonus Models (Maya Format and OBJ / FBX)
  • Bonus Simple Modeling Light Setup Script


  • Over 12 Hours for Main Course Material
  • Over 3 Hours Bonus Material
Who is the target audience?
  • Everyone interested in Modeling in 3D
Compare to Other Maya Courses
Curriculum For This Course
40 Lectures
6 Lectures 01:50:57
General Info - Material Downloads

Brief introduction and scene display. Maya in general has a lot to offer to its users, in this course we will be focused on modeling tools and techniques ONLY.

To download Autodesk Maya 2013 Educational Version with a FREE 3 year license - use the following link:

Preview 01:42

Setting up your project folder is extremely important in Maya, and within production in general. In this way all of your files will remain grouped together in some way - within each folder, based upon project. This is a very good habit to get into with all of your projects.

To download the Course Materials use the following links:



Keep in mind both extensions RAR + ZIP contain exactly the same materials, so ONLY download whichever format works best for you.

Project Setup - Acquire Course Materials

In this video the discussion turns towards workflow, and how to setup Maya to possibly increase productivity, by using Hotkeys, setting preferences, and installing simple scripts.

Included within the downloadable materials are 2 light scripts - both of them are very similar - the one used throughout this training series is "lights.mel". You may also find this script within the "Scripts" folder within your project directory.

Preview 31:28

Overview of using polygonal objects, and their different components. If you are not a beginning user of 3d or maya, then you may skip ahead to the MineCar section.

Modeling Workflow - Polygons

Modeling overview / workflow using nurbs surfaces - covering the basics, to ease terminology and use later in the course.

Modeling Workflow - NURBS
Creating the Roller Coaster Track
10 Lectures 04:09:02

Most good design comes from lots of research, ideas, and concepts. Within this section we delve into creating the roller coaster track, but before diving in head first - we take a look at a handful of actual roller coasters and various elements that make them up.

Roller Coaster Concept, Research, Design

In this video we take a look at the process used for creating a track in a simple way. A little bit of practice on this simplified track goes a long way in understanding the technique prior to diving in to the real deal.

Create the Practice Track Course

Using the techniques previously discussed, we begin the creation of the roller coaster track we will be using for the rest of this course.

Creating the Track Course - Initial Path

In this addendum - we cover saving our scene file and the format being used.

Track Course - Addendum

Here we add some height to our track - with some simple vertical adjustments

Adding Height to the Track Path

The look and feel of the objects you design is important in creating something that appears to be semi-believable or tangible. For any subject matter, it is best to gather some research of similar objects and try to borrow ideas from the different references and create your very own style. This goes a long way into developing your own personal style. In this video we tackle this aspect by checking out some references and then creating the look and feel of our track.

Design Track Look and Feel

Now that we have the look and feel down - we can finally see what this track will look like fleshed out. In this video, we go over the process used to generate the geometry, from the initial design completed in the last video.

Create the Track Geometry

In reality, having a banked turn allows a vehicle to stay on its path without leaving the path boundary at a given speed. Normally this is done via an incline towards the inside of the turn. When it comes to roller coasters, banking allows the track cars to pivot around turns at high speeds with minimal force applied to each passenger (downward force). This downwards force keeps each person from being thrown from the car/track, and/or jerked violently resulting in a whiplash injury, as the car would have kept its course on the defined path (horizontal force).

In this video, we cover manually adding banking to our track curves using a function of the motion path we used to generate the track geometry.

Adding Banking to Turns

There are many different types and styles of track supports - each with its own form and function. After looking at a few examples, we begin to tackle the creation of the track support geometry.

Creating Track Support - Geometry

Now that we have the track geometry completed - we need to add it to our track. In this video we place our geometry and use a series of techniques to manipulate it in such a way for it to follow the track without too much manual placement. Special attention is then given to the areas where the track overlaps, as the support bars would normally intersect with the path - in these cases we use our secondary geometry that we had created in the last lesson and place them only in those areas that need it.

Once all of the support bar geometry is in place - our track is technically complete. In the next section we tackle the creation of the roller coaster car.

Adding the Track Supports
Creating the Car
11 Lectures 06:24:07

In this lesson we go over the design ideas and reference for our car. We also take a look at the finished product, and some of the components that make it up.

Car Overview - Research & Design

After checking out some examples we begin modeling our car geometry base. A slew of techniques are discussed and used to create the main body component of the car. We will also touch on optimizing some of the model areas after the initial creation stage, so that we are not left with an overly heavy model.

Creating the Car Geometry - Base

Now that we have the base car geometry completed, we start the process of adding in the details. This includes adding bevels, headlights, front plate, bars, bumpers, rivets, etc.

Refine the Car Base - Adding Detail (Headlights, Front Plate)

We continue to detail our car model - adding in the Piping, and the Front Bumper.

Detailing Pt 02 (Pipes, Front Bumper)

Detailing any model can be daunting, and sometimes it is hard to judge how much is enough. In this final detail lesson, we wrap our process and add in the final details, rivets, and mirroring.

Detailing Pt 03 (Rivets, Final Details, Mirroring)

No roller coaster is complete without a seat. In this lesson we create the seat base for our car.

Creating the Seat Base

Now that we have the base structure of the seat completed, we may proceed with adding the details. This includes the rest of the support bars, and the locking mechanism object behind the seat itself. We will also adjust any other pieces as necessary to get a better look and feel for our seat and car.

Adding Seat Details

No ride seat is complete without a restraint system. In this lesson we go about creating a restraint harness for each seat.

Seat Restraints

Without some wheels on our car - it will not function very well. In this lesson we get started creating our wheel assembly, as well as some design aspects.

Wheel Assembly Geometry

With our wheel assembly finished, now we are tasked with attaching it to the car. In this lesson we will cover adding, duplicating, and mirroring the assembly to position and place them onto the car geometry. We will also need to create some kind of mechanism to make it appear like it is a part of the car.

Putting together the Wheel Assembly

Here we finally get to put it all together - the mine car and the track. We also tackle the process of making it look like there are a bunch of cars on the track as opposed to just the one.

Putting the car together and adding to track
Creating the Fancy Entrance Sign / Ride Logo
3 Lectures 50:40

What is a ride without a cool sign and name!!! In this lesson we go over some references and ideas for what we will be creating. Remember it all starts with a simple idea.

Sign Overview - Concept

Create Base Sign Backdrop

Adding Text + Details
BONUS: Creating theme park elements
8 Lectures 02:08:20

Bonus Content - Theme Park Elements help to bring your theme park to life, and allow for limitless customization and personalization of your ride. In each of these short videos, we will cover modeling each of some of the most common elements found in theme parks.

The Purpose of these bonus videos is to introduce modeling methods that we may not have covered throughout the rest of the course. Typically shorter, each video will cover a method of creating an object that can be used repeatedly. While there are many methods and techniques that can be used and/or interchanged with the ones shown, we will cover a decent range of different techniques to help you in the future on your own projects.

Preview 02:52

In this video we create our first Bonus object - the trash can. While not overly complicated, this object can be used in many different types of scenes, not just the themepark.

Creating a Trash Can

In this short bonus video, we will create a modular gate / piperail. This is also one of those objects that is very useful for many different types of scenes. The boolean command is used to merge 2 separate objects together - this same command can also be used to subtract one object from the other - or to leave just the intersection of the 2 objects - thus creating a sort of compound object. The main downside to using Boolean Intersection and/or Boolean Difference is that the resulting mesh will rarely be properly formed, and thus may require more tweaking if they need to be reworked in any way. The same applies to Boolean Union, which is what we use in this lesson - careful planning can help the resulting mesh and require less work post boolean.

Creating a Gate / Pipe-rail

Here we look at a method to create a type of flag that has some nice wind shape to it. Deformers are used to help "deform" our flag object to get it to the desired look.

Creating a Flag

In this lesson we will take a look at a method to create a turnstile. Turnstiles are used at a wide variety of areas, including parks ,stadiums, rides, museums,office lobbies, exhibits, etc... Also turnstiles can be used to give an accurate count of attendance, and help keep individuals in single-file through a particular route. As with most individual objects or items, this can be put into a model library, and re-used as seen fit.

Keep in mind the methods used to create any of these objects, is but one method of many, and is solely meant to increase ones thought process and understanding of the modeling process.

Creating a Turnstile

Here, we go over a few different methods to create walkways in your scenes. Walkways simply help bring your scenes together and add that final touch. Creating modular walkway sections can be a great way to quickly populate an area or level.

Creating Walkways

Foliage can be one of those daunting tasks that many artists fear. Luckily in this lesson we discover one of Maya's helpful tools - Paint Fx. We will only be using this tool to help generate our foliage, but it has many other uses as well.

Keep in mind when creating trees, grass, etc.. with this tool, it is in your best interest to create a few different versions - then convert to polygons, and save them each individually. In this way we can add them to our library of usable objects and have them on hand in the future.

Creating Simple Foliage

Creating a landscape for your scenes, even if it is a simple one, can add a lot depth and take them to the next level. Pair them with a few stray objects or foliage and it can help the scene look more realistic and natural.

In this lesson, we go over creating a simple rolling landscape for our roller coaster, using some of Maya's sculpting tools. These tools should not be limited to creating landscapes from a plane, but can also be used to perform a wide variety of tasks within your modeling repertoire.

Creating a Simple Landscape
BONUS: Putting it all together
2 Lectures 13:02
Put it all together - Overview

In this BONUS - section we will place all elements into the scene to create our finalized composition.

If you would like to use the BONUS files created for this course use the links below:



Importing and Placing Elements
About the Instructor
Virtual Dreamz
4.4 Average rating
18 Reviews
832 Students
1 Course
Envision - Invoke - Inspire

Virtual Dreamz, Inc. is a Multimedia Studio out of sunny South Florida, providing high-quality multimedia content, design, web and animation.

Envision - Invoke - Inspire.

About your Instructor - Brian Heinrich
Brian is an experienced 3D and multimedia designer with a passion for creativity and an eye for design. He possesses an extensive skillset including 3D Design, Web, Graphic, and Print Design, UI layout and design, XHTML, CSS, and Flash.

With over 5 years of professional technical teaching experience, he has a knack for making complicated topics and/or tasks easy to learn and understand. Brian's teaching style is friendly and laid back. Instead of overly technical terms and ideas, Brian makes it a point to explain things in plain and simple language, which is informative and straight forward. His thirst for knowledge keeps him updated with many of the latest design trends, technologies, and methods.