The world of 3D game development services and modeling is dominated by Maya and Blender (well, we’ve just asked 3ds Max to take a break for a while).

3D artists are well aware of the dilemma of choosing between these two titans. Many would say

“What’s the point of comparing Blender vs Maya? Blender is free, Maya is paid, that’s the whole difference.”

This is indeed one of the differences, but not in all cases it is decisive (ironic chuckles from freebie lovers).

Both Blender and Maya are amazing in their own right with a lot of great tools and features that allow you to create 3D masterpieces. The latest 2024 update of both programs also brought many innovations. But a choice must be made.

Blender or Maya? What software to focus on? Which is best for your project? Knowledge of what software is more in demand on the market? It’s time to dot the i’s and cross the t’s.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of these programs and finally put an end to this endless debate about which software is better.

Blender: Good Friend of the Newbies

Blender is a free (i.e. absolutely free with no hidden fees) software for creating 3D graphics, containing tools for modeling, animation, rendering, video post-processing, and game creation.

A characteristic feature of Blender is its relatively small size, which, however, managed to fit a full-fledged editor with all the basic functions and a set of textures, models, and event handlers.

Despite the lack of official documentation, the software has a huge community and an endless database of online training materials that will help even an absolute beginner to understand the basics of 3D.

Interestingly, beginners were initially afraid of Blender: the workstation looked intimidating with a huge number of parameters and commands scattered all over the screen. But since Blender has become an open source project, it has gained full context menus for all functions, and the use of tools has become more logical and flexible. Therefore, when talking about the Maya vs Blender learning curve, everyone unconditionally recognizes Blender as the best software for beginners, since it is quite simple and fast to learn.

Speaking of Maya vs Blender in terms of being a better tool for beginners, Blender is by far the leader. The workstation as of 2024 is a user-friendly zone that won’t make a novice recoil from the screen in horror.

One of Blender’s most interesting modeling tools is modifiers.

Modifiers in Blender

In Blender, modifiers use their algorithm to change an object without having to change it in manual editing mode.

In other words, these are tools that modify the mesh in a non-destructive way and can be adjusted interactively. This greatly reduces the need for manual labor and results in a faster modeling process.

It is important to understand that if the modifier is not applied completely, but only added to the object, then the latter remains the same when editing. The program draws the result of applying the modifier, but the object itself does not change. Modifiers are accessed through the Properties editor. There are many modifiers in Blender, and each of them has its characteristics and settings. You can apply several modifiers to an object to achieve the effect you want.

Blender 2024 Updates

Blender, the renowned open-source 3D creation suite, continues to push boundaries and empower artists and designers with its latest release, Blender 3.5, packed with various innovative updates and powerful features.

1. Real-Time Rendering with Eevee. One of the standout features of Blender 3.5 is its Eevee engine’s enhanced real-time rendering capabilities. With Eevee, artists can experience near-instantaneous rendering feedback, allowing faster iterations and more efficient workflow. The engine harnesses the power of real-time global illumination, screen-space reflections, and advanced shading techniques to deliver stunning visuals without sacrificing speed. 

2. Powerful Sculpting Tools. Blender 3.5 introduces a host of powerful sculpting tools that elevate the art of digital sculpting to new heights. The revamped sculpting workflow offers dynamic topology, allowing artists to sculpt highly detailed models without worrying about polygon limitations. Adding new brushes, such as the Cloth Brush and Multiresolution Brush, provides artists unparalleled control and versatility.

3. Improved Grease Pencil Workflow . Blender’s Grease Pencil tool has undergone significant improvements in version 3.5, making it an indispensable asset for 2D animators and storyboard artists. The new Frame Editing mode streamlines the animation process, enabling seamless editing of keyframes and transitions.

4. Advanced Simulation and Physics. Blender 3.5 introduces a wide range of enhancements to its simulation and physics capabilities, further expanding the possibilities for realistic and dynamic animations. The new Mantaflow system revolutionizes fluid simulations, enabling artists to create realistic fluid behavior with greater control and flexibility. Additionally, cloth and hair simulation systems deliver more accurate and visually appealing results.

Blender 3.5 integrates state-of-the-art AI-powered denoising technology, allowing artists to achieve clean and noise-free renders in a fraction of the time. The new OptiX AI denoiser leverages the power of NVIDIA RTX GPUs to remove noise while preserving intricate details and textures. As a result, it speeds up the rendering process and enhances the final output’s visual quality. With AI-powered denoising, Blender 3.5 ensures that artists can focus on their creative vision without being hindered by long render times or distracting noise artifacts.

If we consider the Blender vs Maya rendering comparison, then at this stage, Blender is definitely faster.

Although Blender’s interface is still filled with a large number of elements, this does not cause fear or bewilderment, because each new version of the software features significant changes and improvements in the UX/UI design.

Pros and Cons of Blender

FreeControversial UI
Open sourceNot industry standard
Real-time renderingLack of specialization
Wide functionalityPeriodic bugs
LightweightLimited animation options
Large knowledge baseComplex node editing
Procedural workflowsConfusing updates

Game Examples Built With Blender

Blender, the versatile open-source 3D creation suite, has revolutionized the world of digital content creation and has become a powerful game development tool. Let’s check out examples of games:

1. “Sintel: The Game

It is an immersive and visually stunning game that takes players on an epic adventure. Based on the acclaimed animated short film “Sintel,” the game recreates the film’s captivating world, allowing players to interact with the characters and explore the enchanting landscapes. Blender’s powerful modeling, animation, and rendering capabilities were instrumental in bringing the characters and environments to life.

2. “Yo Frankie!”

“Yo Frankie!” is a delightful open-world platformer that showcases the versatility of Blender in game development. This endearing game from the Blender Institute stars the endearing Frankie, a squirrel on a quest to recover stolen fruits from a malicious crow. Blender’s real-time rendering engine, physics simulations, and intuitive animation tools were instrumental in creating the vibrant and engaging world of “Yo Frankie!” 

3. “Escape from Woomera”

“Escape from Woomera” is a thought-provoking and politically charged game that tackles critical social issues. This game delves into the harsh realities of Australia’s immigration detention system. Blender’s flexible animation and rendering tools help create compelling and dynamic character animations and immersive environments. 

Maya: Business Partner of Game Studios

Autodesk Maya is a powerful software package for modeling 3D objects, creating character animations and object motion graphics, and designing virtual environments and computer characters.

Maya provides a wide range of functional tools for limitless creativity. Rich animation functionality makes this software ideal for animation artists.

Maya’s specialty is its focus on creating and maintaining professional, market-oriented products. The Maya package is actively used by game studios to create their titles, as well as by filmmakers to introduce ultra-realistic CGI into films. The software workstation, accordingly, offers a more sophisticated and advanced experience.

In some sense, the situation is easier for game publishers than for us, because they don’t have to choose between Maya vs Blender for games: it is Maya that is a generally recognized tool in the gaming industry.

Maya provides tools for creating high-quality characters and effects, as well as performance enhancements for modeling, texture, and rendering tasks. Users are granted access to Autodesk software on a monthly, annual, and 3-year basis.

Monthly SubscriptionAnnual Subscription3-Year Subscription

Maya subscription options

Maya offers a free trial for 30 days. Academic licenses are also available: students and educators can get free 1-year access to Autodesk educational products and services, renewable as long as they remain eligible.

To make things easier, Maya encourages artists to use its built-in MEL language.

Maya Embedded Language

MEL is the scripting language behind Maya; it is the main level of user interaction with Maya.

When Maya starts up, it actually runs several MEL scripts that form all the windows. Anything you can do with a UI program can be interpreted and automated with MEL.

The benefits of using MEL for users are undeniable. Everyone can create windows with sliders, tabs, text fields and buttons for them, attributes, etc. One can even add menu items and new panels. This allows users to automate work and quickly execute any commands bypassing the UI.

MEL is best learned with the Script Editor. MEL is quite a large language (more than 600 commands and approximately 75 functions), but the Script Editor is able to advise the user on how to use these commands, as well as copy and paste ready-made scripts into the code, without a single line of your own code. You don’t even need to use the command line to enter MEL commands. All operations performed in the Maya interface are written in the script editor as MEL commands. Even without knowing how to program at all, here, you can create quite complex scripts by copying and pasting.

Maya 2024 Updates

1. Real-Time Viewport 2.0: Enhanced Realism and Interactivity

Maya 2023 introduces significant advancements to its Real-Time Viewport 2.0, revolutionizing how artists visualize and interact with their creations. The enhanced viewport provides a more immersive and realistic preview of the final output, empowering artists to make informed decisions throughout the creative process.

2. Animation and Rigging: Streamlined Workflows and Improved Tools

The improved Animation Time Editor provides an intuitive interface for managing complex timelines and keyframes, enabling seamless blending and editing of animation clips.

3. Next-Generation Arnold Renderer

Maya 2023 introduces the next-generation Arnold renderer, taking rendering capabilities to new heights. With enhanced integration and performance, artists can achieve unparalleled visual fidelity and realism in their renders. The new features include improved sampling algorithms, advanced denoising options, and enhanced support for complex materials and lighting scenarios.

And much more.

Maya 2023 incorporates adaptive AI-powered modeling tools that revolutionize the modeling workflow. The new Smart Polybrush tool intelligently predicts and adapts to the artist’s intentions, allowing for more efficient and precise modeling.

At the same time, while Maya’s rendering tools are efficient, animation rendering remains quite challenging and time-consuming. Therefore, as we’ve said above, when considering Blender vs Maya renderer speed, Blender has the advantage.

Pros and Cons of Maya

Industry standardHigh price
Hyper-realistic effectsHigh system requirements
All modern formats are supportedSteep learning curve
Built-in node editorLack of documentation
World-class animationSlow rendering

Game Examples Built With Maya

Maya is the 3D animation, modeling, and rendering software with its robust feature set, intuitive interface, and extensive capabilities. Maya empowers game developers to create immersive worlds and captivating gameplay experiences. Let’s explore some outstanding games that have been built using Maya.

1. “Gears of War” Series

Developed by Epic Games, it showcases Maya’s prowess in creating dynamic and visually striking third-person shooter experiences. Maya’s advanced character rigging and animation tools were integral in bringing the iconic characters of the series to life, imbuing them with fluid movement, lifelike expressions, and realistic combat interactions.

2. “Overwatch”

It’s the immensely popular team-based multiplayer shooter developed by Blizzard Entertainment and leverages Maya’s capabilities to create a vibrant and diverse cast of characters. Maya’s robust character modeling, rigging, and animation tools were employed to give each hero in the game a distinct personality and unique set of abilities.

3. “God of War” (2018)

The critically acclaimed “God of War” reboot, developed by Santa Monica Studio, demonstrates Maya’s contribution to crafting a compelling and visually breathtaking action-adventure game. Maya’s robust animation tools and physics simulations helped create the game’s visceral combat system, enabling players to experience the raw power of protagonist Kratos.

Maya vs Blender Side-By-Side Comparison Chart

Maya and Blender are two renowned software applications in creating 3D characters for AAA games, each with its own strengths and capabilities. Understanding the differences between Maya and Blender is crucial in choosing the right tool for your creative projects. In this side-by-side comparison chart, we’ll delve into the key features and functionalities of Maya and Blender, helping you make an informed decision based on your specific needs.

PriceFreeFrom $ 235 per month
PlatformLinux, Mac OS X, WindowsLinux, Mac OS X, Windows
Written inС, C++, PythonC++, MEL, Python, C#
LicenseGNU GPLCommercial software
Target audienceSolo artists and indie studiosBig AAA studios
Learning curveModerateSteep
Storage space~500 MB4 GB
Industry standardNoYes

Maya vs Blender: What to Choose in 2024?

So, what is the bottom line of our Blender vs Maya comparison? In view of the foregoing, we hasten to state that each of these software products has something to offer the 3D artist.

Being free makes Blender a great starting point for beginners, and its rich tools allow you to achieve the quality of modeling and sculpting that is not worse than in Maya. So often, when considering the Maya vs Blender modeling dilemma, many people choose Blender. Because why pay so much when there is a great set of full-fledged modeling tools?

At the same time, animators note that Blender vs Maya animation comparison makes them instantly point to Maya as the best animation tool. Very often Maya is used only for the animation part of the project, while other software is preferred for modeling, rendering, etc.

Interesting fact. Maya was used to animate characters in the video game The Last of Us Part II and create visual effects for Marvel films and the Game of Thrones series.

Also, do not forget that Maya is the industry standard that is popular with professional suppliers of AAA gaming and cinematic solutions. Blender remains a great piece of software for solo artists and independent studios working on personal projects that can be freely monetized without the need for licensing. In addition, its online community is much more powerful and larger than Maya can boast − many people learn Blender on their own and are happy to share their experience with beginners.

I choose Blender…I choose Maya…
to start my journey in 3D modelingto make professional world-class animation 
to create my models and personal projectsto be able to get a job in AAA studios

Our 3D artists and animators are proficient in Maya: many of the works in our portfolio are made using this software. If you want to harness the power of 3D for your next ambitious project, we invite you to discuss it with us − we will give you an idea or two on how to create jaw-dropping visuals.

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Which software, Maya or Blender, is more suitable for professional use?

Maya is the industry standard for producing 3D film, animations, and visual effects professionally. Its extensive toolset, robust features, and integration with other off-the-shelf software make it the preferred choice for larger studios and professionals working on complex projects. However, Blender is now more widely known and used by professionals and studios, especially for independent projects or smaller productions.

Is Blender a suitable choice for beginners?

Absolutely. The user-friendly interface, extensive documentation, and active community make Blender an excellent choice for beginners and hobbyists. The intuitive workflow combined with the powerful modeling, animation, and rendering features allows novices to grasp the basics of 3D creation quickly. Moreover, it’s free and affordable as an open-source program, which adds to its appeal for 3D beginners.

Which software offers better customization options?

Since Blender is open-source software, it offers extensive customization options. Community-driven development allows users to contribute to the software and create custom add-ons, tools, and scripts. This flexibility enables artists customize Blender to their workflow and project needs. Maya, while not offering the same level of customization, is highly integrated with other Autodesk software and supports industry-standard workflows.

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