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UV Layout, keeping shells together

Message 1 of 19
21515 Views, 18 Replies

UV Layout, keeping shells together

Hi Autodesk,


I love your new UV editor and the excellent new tools, could in a future update we be able to group shells together and keep them together when doing a layout? currently they layout put un-gathers the shells and I then have to do a manual clean up and place back flipped or similar shells on top of each other again. Would save me hours of work in the future.


If there is currently a way of doing this could you let me know.


Many thanks

Message 2 of 19
in reply to: chrisQW743

Hi @chrisQW743 and welcome!

    If you're talking about shells that you have stacked on top of one another there is a tool for this under Modify>Stack Shells.

    This way you can layout your shells then select the ones you want to stack on top of each other then select Stack Shells.

    Let me know if this solves your issue!

Please hit the Accept as Solution button if my post fully solves your issue, or reply with additional details if the problem persists.

Kudos are greatly appreciated. Everyone likes a thumbs up!

Message 3 of 19
in reply to: sean.heasley

Hi Sean,


Thanks for a very quick reply, this new feature is amazing and I use it a lot now. My only issue is after I have done an auto layout using the layout tool it will ungather the shells and I need to re gather them again which then leave gaps in my uv layout.


Steps I would like to do is:


1. Auto Layout

2. Gather shells 

3. Re run Auto layout to fill in the gaps I now have in the UV layout BUT keeping the gathered shells together in the new layout

Message 4 of 19
in reply to: sean.heasley

I guess a good quick fix you guys could do is to have an option in the unfold that ignores pinned uv shells and we just pin the gathered shells?

Message 5 of 19
in reply to: chrisQW743

Hey @chrisQW743 I did some more digging and found out this is slightly fixed. You should be able to pack only selected shells so you want to avoid packing stacked shells, you can just deselect them).

Hopefully this workaround works for you but I have logged this issue with our dev team!

Please hit the Accept as Solution button if my post fully solves your issue, or reply with additional details if the problem persists.

Kudos are greatly appreciated. Everyone likes a thumbs up!


Message 6 of 19
in reply to: sean.heasley

Yes that works, its a workaround but not ideal as the layout still then requires you to manually place the non selected shells. For now I'll work with this workflow but it would be awesome if the layout in future updates would keep gathered shells gathered when laying out...

Message 7 of 19
in reply to: chrisQW743

Yep. That's the only thing that i am missing now on Maya UVLayout. I am a 3dsMax user too and Max has a simple button called "GroupUvs" , so you can group UvShells and that group of shells will be treated like a single shell, so you can organize or pack groups individually. This is a life changer sometimes. 🙂 I could not find a way of doing this in Maya. (yet). The dev team should just "borrow"  that feature from Max. 

Message 8 of 19
in reply to: msouza

I agree. A shell grouping feature (or shell paper-clipping feature since I like to imagine shells as unfolded origami paper lol :P) would be perfect... Or maybe even just something as simple as an option box for the modify>layout that has a checkbox to "keep overlapping shells together"; if any shells are overlapping in any way, they would move together with the layout when that option box is checked. 

Message 9 of 19
in reply to: chrisQW743

Ouh! So disappointing there is no UV grouping in Maya!

Message 10 of 19
in reply to: Anonymous

In maya 2019. if you go into the options for layout. Modify > Layout [] There is a checkbox for "stack similar" This would stack any flipped UVs automatically with eachother so it doesn't double up everything on the grid. You can also find the stack similar manually in the "Arrange and Layout" dropdown menu on the side. From what I can tell, its pretty accurate. I'm working on a hard surface weapon with hundreds of tiny complicated parts that are almost all flipped UVs. It got them all without any hiccups.

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Message 11 of 19
in reply to: arkeyark

I think there is some miscommunication on this topic.


Stacking similar shells is one thing but grouping uv shells is completely different. I know what these guys are getting at in regards to grouping.


I would indeed be a huge timesaver for UV mapping in Maya if there was a grouping facility. A very large part of my work time is taken up arranging uv shells from one connected mesh to be close to each other in UV proximity. This is particularly true if you are a Hard Surface Modeler. There are far more uv shells to arrange and distribute than say a character artist/organic modeler.


Please see the attached image. This is an example of the manual UV grouping done manually by me. If I could have that group of meshes and all their shells 'grouped', then let maya do a layout with those shell groups to best fit them within the UV space that would be a big time saver. I think some kind of flexible grouping that kept shells together but allowed them to rotate and fit semi organically with the other shell groups would be the ultimate, but I'm sure that would be difficult to code.


Please, if this were added to Maya it would make it's UV toolkit very competitive. Right now I am definitely looking into using RizomUV or something else to speed up my worklflow.


Thanks for reading.

Message 12 of 19
in reply to: guy

I would LOVE a grouping function. It was part of Hedus, and man, it was so nice to be able to get a layout of similar (but not identical) objects and lay them out, then "lock" them as one big 'shell', so they'd stick together in subsiquent layouts. 


This lets you have MUCH cleaner UVs, even at the expense of a few pixels of texture density.  Max has it, other plugins have it, Maya just needs to catch up. 🙂

Message 13 of 19
in reply to: Lindsey_Robbins

I am amazed this was not a part of the UV editor updates. Grouping stacked or overlapping UVs and then being able to pack them and have them stay together is incredibly important. I really hope this functionality gets added as soon as possible.

Message 14 of 19
in reply to: sean

Agreed! Considering Max has it and Maya is the most expensive thing in the
world. Haha.
Message 15 of 19

This is the real fix

Message 16 of 19
in reply to: sean.heasley

6 years later and still no improvement done. Very disappointed, feels like maya development halted in 2018.

better autodesk get back to work or in the years to come will lose against blender fast development. 
and also the amount of free information out there for blender Is astonishing.

Message 17 of 19

6 years ago lol. i think i found a way around this. in the layout submenu in the uv editor 



you can check the "stack similar) box, it will help stacking similar uvs when executing the layout function. i've found this helpful for my models and for identical uvs. 🙂 i hope it helps to someone. 


Message 18 of 19

yea, but the algorithm is not sufficient for more complex UV editing work, like was my case. That checkbox works for really basic operations.

I found very useful the .mel mega pack script form malcolm341, he provides a wide range of technical tools for this kind of heavy work. i suggest every Maya user to check it out.

Message 19 of 19
in reply to: chrisQW743

Screenshot 2024-04-02 172237.png

 Hopefully this helps... I found that if I only move the shell that I (mesh -> transfer attributes with) on a group of similar objects then the mesh will stay together with very minor adjustments needed after moving. For my image, I moved the coin in blue and the rest followed suit as I manually moved them. I did not try with layout under uv toolkit because my scene has a few nonmanifold spots that maya keeps yelling at me about lol, but this does work with a manual move. 

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