Im a creating a little animated popup book, like the ones that are so popular in commercials these days. What would be the best way to import photographs into maya and extrude them to have a little depth to them? Im fairly new to maya and think I could up the look by using maya instead of flat 3D layers in AE.
Hmm, you mean you want to start with regular photos, then separate them into different levels of depth, so that the foreground subject will be able to pop out from the background?
You'll have to use an image editor like Photoshop to cut out the various different levels and save each separately, with an alpha channel to cut it out from the background. Then apply them to simple planes in Maya (or to more complex objects if you want them to actually bend or fold).
Thats part of what I was trying to accomplish.
But what if I wanted the cutout pics to have thickness to them?(not just flat planes) To make them look more like cardboard cutouts. Meaning the front would have the image but then it would also have an edge to it that I can make look like ply wood or cardboard? Hope that makes sense.
It's easy enough to create a polygon of any shape: just use the Create Polygon tool and click points in the workspace. You can use an image plane to hold your image so that you can trace it. Once you have a poly in the correct shape, you can simply extrude it by a small distance and there's your cardboard cutout.
If you have pre-existing curves (e.g. from Illustrator), you can import those into Maya as NURBS curves and then extrude them as polys. This will give you a hollow 'cookie-cutter' type of surface... then use the Fill Hole tool to cap both ends. The Bevel tool might also be a good choice.