thanks for the advice. i've been going through the tutorials here on simply maya and they are just 'excellent'! i don't think i've come across any other video tutorials that explain in a 'down to earth manner' how to achieve tasks in maya. having looked at the free tutorials, i'm tempted now to pay to look at the other tutorials here.
(that being said i'm struggling with the polygon texturing tutorial that was on mike's own website which i'll post in another area of the forum, for advice if anyone can help).
having thought nore about the online courses, geez, they seem really expensive. i'm not sure i want to spend that amount of money.
there's a lot of info that i've managed to get from simply maya's vid tutorials. thanks mike and everyone for providing them.