The world of 3D graphics 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 2022 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 2022 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 edit 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 2022 Updates
The latest version of the software, Blender 3.2, includes a large number of new features and tools to make it easier. Here are some of them:
- Light Groups − a powerful system that allows users to generate user-defined lighting passes and modify the color and intensity of light sources in the compositor without re-rendering.
- Shadow Caustics, based on the Manifold Next Event Estimation production render method, supports selective rendering of caustics in the shadows of refractive objects.
- Volume Motion Blur − introduction of motion blur support for gas simulation and imported OpenVDB volumes.
In addition, the new version of Blender features improved performance and the ability to paint in Sculpt mode on millions of polygons with a new brush with customizable tip shape, wet mixing, density, and flow.
It is also important to note the updates to the Cycles X rendering engine: it provides a significant performance boost and renders faster. For example, many users noted that if earlier rendering could take almost an hour, then with Cycles X, the project is rendered in 3-4 minutes. Therefore, 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
|Open source||Not industry standard|
|Real-time rendering||Lack of specialization|
|Wide functionality||Periodic bugs|
|Lightweight||Limited animation options|
|Large knowledge base||Complex node editing|
|Procedural workflows||Confusing updates|
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 Subscription||Annual Subscription||3-Year Subscription|
|$ 225||$ 1,785||$ 5,085|
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.
There is also a more affordable version of Maya called Maya LT, a software suite focused on video game modeling, animation, and prototyping. It supports integration with popular modern game engines, Unreal Engine and Unity 3D.
|Monthly Subscription||Annual Subscription||3-Year Subscription|
|$ 35||$ 290||$ 825|
Maya LT subscription options
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 2022 Updates
- USD plug-in − support for the Universal Scene Description (USD) format is now available in Maya 2022: now, artists can work seamlessly with the USD format, integrating it into workflows based on Maya and other Autodesk solutions.
- Animation Ghosting − the Ghosting Editor allows artists to create images that replicate animation, making it possible to visualize the movement and position of animated objects over time.
- Bifrost 220.127.116.11 − the new module includes new features to improve the simulation workflow, such as the ability to resume simulation from the hard disk frame cache, create new particles in the model, and improve low-resolution Aero simulations.
And much more.
The animation in the new version is much faster − cached playback gives animators a serious boost in FPS in the preview window. And with Arnold’s advanced features, Viewport 2.0 preview animations come as close as possible to the final rendering. And although Blender also has an animation toolkit, the choice of rigging in the Maya vs Blender animation battle is obvious: Maya offers much more advanced animation capabilities.
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 standard||High price|
|Hyper-realistic effects||High system requirements|
|All modern formats are supported||Steep learning curve|
|Built-in node editor||Lack of documentation|
|World-class animation||Slow rendering|
Maya vs Blender Side-By-Side Comparison Chart
|Price||Free||From $ 225 per month|
|Platform||Linux, Mac OS X, Windows||Linux, Mac OS X, Windows|
|Written in||С, C++, Python||C++, MEL, Python, C#|
|License||GNU GPL||Commercial software|
|Target audience||Solo artists and indie studios||Big AAA studios|
|Storage space||~500 MB||4 GB|
Maya vs Blender: What to Choose in 2022?
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. For example, 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 modeling||to make professional world-class animation|
|to create my models and personal projects||to 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.