3DS Max, Maya, or Blender?

Hello everyone. I have been using Blender for 6 months and really like it given I know how to use it very well. I recently got the option to get Maya for free and I took it. Learning it has been a pain. I keep wanting to use Blender’s shortcuts to do things in Maya but that just slows me down. I have also heard about 3DS Max and I wanted to get opinions on that. I prefer to use Blender because it offers very easy ways of shading and texturing. And there are countless tutorials that explain how to do pretty much everything. I am pretty sure Maya will really help me get better at modeling and help me get a job but the interface and tools are not as beginner friendly. Plus, doing anything in Maya is too slow for my liking. If my friend hadn’t convinced me that learning Maya will really help me get a job, I would still be using Blender. Ideas?

Maya is easier. You are not supposed to be texturing in Maya though, you would use another app for that. UVing is no problem though, use viewport 2.0 for good real time rendering. For rendering scenes within Maya use Mental Ray materials…easy to access…just right click on the object, go down to the spot where you add a material and pick the right one. Very simple stuff. Blender actually puts you through more steps just to get a decent texture going. You just need to learn how Maya works.

Depending on the industry and location you are interested in, 3DS Max is also a good tool to know. In the US for example its used in games quite a bit on the east coast, where as Maya is seen more on the west coast. Matte Painters will often be using something like C4D.

Maya has some powerful nurb modeling you can do too and it can be converted over to polys.

I think it depends on your goals. Are you hoping to do this professionally someday? If so you would do yourself a service by learning 3ds and maya as they are the most widely used tools in the professional world of 3d animation, but if you aren’t planning on working for Miramax or Pixar in the foreseeable future, maybe blender is the right fit for you. I like blender over the rest and I’ve had them all at one time or another. Cinema 4d is imo the easiest to learn, but still I like blender. It’s really just up to you. They are all different programs but they all do essentially the same thing. So to sum that up, it doesn’t matter. None of them are better than the other really. The best tool is the one you use most often. imo

I disagree in your opinion that Maya is easier than Blender. Maya can do the same amount of things Blender can but makes it quite a bit more complex. And with texturing, I need the texture to effect the render. I can’t just paint a texture and import it or paint on the finished render. I need to set a band of an object to emit light and the rest of the object to reflect light (glossy shader). That is all I want to do…

A bit off topic, but as this thread is bound to attract 3d multi users I’ll post here. I think it would be a great idea if some of you guys that know more than just blender started making videos or tutorials of any kind that show ppl how to do common tasks in both blender and other programs like maya or 3ds or lightwave, what ever. I think this would help both blender users and ppl who use other programs to learn a wider array of tools to better complete their tasks.

I think the biggest reason most ppl don’t switch 3d applications once they learn one is, Hell, they’re hard to learn and its no end to frustrating when you know how to do a thing in one program and you can’t even figure out how to rotate the view in another. I know there are tutorials for all the programs, but none that I’ve ever seen approach the problem from this angle. No one I’ve seen on youtube does anyway. No one says Ok, today we’re going to make a cube and texture that cube identically in both blender and Maya.
A person learning Maya that has a background in Blender is a far different pupil than one that has no experience with any 3d application.

I wish I knew 3ds and Maya better, but I get so frustrated trying to figure out the most basic things that I want to throw my computer out the window. Terminology is the biggest issue for me. Blender calls things “x” and 3ds calls the same thing “y”. Now a person that knew both could say, “yes y is the exact same thing as blender’s x” and that would help so much.

Anyway there’s my idea for you multi user gods out there. Keep in mind that you can make a living from youtube. You don’t have to have a million subs to make money. You don’t even have to have 1000 subs to make pretty decent money.

Hi! My first contact with the 3D world was with 3dsmax, and it’s an incredible tool the user interface it’s user freindly everything is in the right place, the material editor gives you the control of everything, and I mean it, everything, also in my opinion the pivot tool is easier in max, arrays are better in max, in my opinion, and a lot of good stuff about it. In the other hand when I started to use Blender I had already all the “3D theory” that I learn from 3dsmax and I found thats its faster modeling in blender than in 3ds( in my case). The thing about blender is that blender have everything, the composition / tracking tools are impresive, cycles render is THE tool when you’re texturing and lighting a scene, the rigify addon simplifies rigging! and a lot of things more. I found both blender and 3dsmax the best options for 3D arts, the choise is up for the user.

Bit of a late response, but since this thread came back to life…have you even used Maya?

The only thing more complex in maya is rendering with mental ray. Thats it. Maya cant do the same amount of things as blender, but each one can have an advantage over another depending on feature. Blender hits more fields, but may not necessarily be considered as feature rich in any one of them, like a jack of all trades but master of none… Granted, Blender modeling is pretty good. Maya uses nurbs and curves which can be converted from polygons and vice versa, even autogenerating UVs. This can make it a very powerful modeling tool depending on approach. That said…

Maya is easier. Im not talking about someone learning 3d for the first time, because those concepts about it all works lay more in the field of academia and study. In terms of usability, and the rate at which one can pick it up…it is easier. Everything is consistent, you dont have that in Blender at all. Universal hotkeys means you dont have to memorize a new set everytime your mouse hovers over a new window. All menu items are on top, and ONE button can give you access to nearly everything you need in Maya. The spacebar, tapped it toggles window from singular to quad. Held down you get the hotbox, which gives you everything you can find in the menus above, when working fast, you can create or use its hotbox menu system through pattern memorization… Its far faster and easier to understand. UVs follow the same control scheme and approach as the 3d viewport. Everything you need for toggles and sliders is well laid out in a consistent fashion to the right in the attribute editor. Tabs offer sets of information which is attached to each object. Applying materials and what goes into them is 100x easier than in Blender.

So I do find it funny when people assume Maya is hard to learn or use. Its not. It’s interface looks older, boring even, it may imply an air of difficulty, but its really not. Depending on task, many users will just write or pick up plugins to automate even more tasks. Maya does assume you will have multiple apps in your pipeline depending on the task, and thats normal in this line of work.

Hi! I’ve been working professionally in game dev the last 13 years on both maya and 3dsmax. In my point of view both programs are far behind the times nowadays.

My quick summary:

3dsmax is an example of an awefully overloaden interface, thanks to it’s origins in the early 90ies. It has nice, shiny buttons for everthing, which makes it probably the easiest to start. But it’s a badly aged application that has too much functionality sorta stuck on without a global strategy. Hence almost every tool has its own sort of subset of rules, for example:

  • The UV-editor is a modifier and while polyobjects have an “element”-subobject, “Unwrap UVW” has that as a mode-toggle.
  • Poly-modelling is split into the old command panel and the new shiny Graphite UI
  • For animation you have your standard bones (that love to act funny), Biped (which hardly animates anything well beyond humans) and now the CAT-system. None of which will nicely interact with each other.
    3dsmax is the russian workhorse in the 3d-world: It can get you through any terrain, but sometimes it just lays down and dies.

Maya is already far more modern with its node-based approach, but you still need loads of scripts to make it real useable for certain areas. It is still far superior when it comes to animation and it feels more like the “artist tool” than 3dsmax does. Then again the node-approach makes the modelling a bit strange sometimes. This is most evident when you receive a beginners scene and find all kinds of auxillary objects, non-deleted histories, normal-problems and all objects named “polyshape0001” to “polyshape9999”. Maya gives you loads of possibilities, but they aren’t exactly easy to find. And it expects you to work clean, but doesn’t really tell you, until you broke it.

Blender in comparison is the new and fresh kid on the block. So far the big players try to ignore it, but that will probably bite them in the ass sooner or later, especially looking at the rapid development that is going on with blender since 2.5-relaunch.

My advice: It depends what area of 3D graphics you’re interest in. If you’re into movies, start with Maya. If you’re into games, 3dsmax is probably the right direction to start. Blender on the other hand delivers the least amount of bullshit, you’ll ask yourself far less often “WTF did they think when they developed that?!” in opposition to Maya and 3DSMax.

Just don’t get stuck on either of them, keep your eyes open for developments and try to get a base idea of every program. Most important is that you grasp the basics. That way you’ll be able to work with any of the programs after working through some tutorials…

badoli’s analysis is spot on. Personally I started with blender, and am just now migrating to maya, which I’m happy with. Blender seems to have less of a learning curve, and being free is nice as well.

Thank you all for your opinions. Badoli, I really like your explanation. I can’t tell if it is spot on but it is good enough for me to live off of. I also have been itching to get back to Maya after a few months away. I don’t know why seeing as how I really don’t like it.

Sorry if I am off-topic.

But I am wondering if Autodesk is losing ground to any of other softwares, at all, with the exception of Houdini.

Now I am well aware this is pretty much an impossible question to answer, since no studios “broadcast” what they are currently using or slowly transitioning into more and more.

But hey, for fun, someone might know something!

Best Regards

As a newbie (a total newbie) I found blender the easiest to learn with a logical approach to how things work. 3ds max confused me with the above mentioned approach of UV maps being a “modifier” etc. SOem say theres no “manual” etc, but I found so many excellent and usually free tutorial videos on blender (also the new versions) that I got into basic modelling quite fast. I tried doing the same fo maya etc, and just ended up with every site commercial, asking money for most tutorials etc (I know theres a few free groups, but it’s nowhere near what I could find for blender).

There are things I am quite unhappy with with blender, on of them the lack of a good material database (split up by the various renderers) with online DB connectione tc … some of this exists as plugins, but they tend to be for older versions etc. I was impüressed with the library in 3ds max there … a huge selection of excellent starter matierals and you just drag and drop them in. I love the flexibility of Cycles, but I’d also like to store my materials … without using “hacks”. I’m still looking for a decent solution there and wish blender came with the orgaisation of materials per renderer itself.

But for now I’ll continue to use blender … once you know the various ways to use the keyboard to do things, it’s snappy and quick in the way you work.

I have and I also disagree with you that Maya is easier. You gotta understand that this is personal preference and is often tainted if you have been using a software for a long time.

For example I have been using Blender for such a long time that I can hardly remember how hard it was to get into it. You probably don’t remember how steep of a learning curve Maya has either, since you have been using it for much longer than Blender (for example)

The reason I can say Maya is objectively easier to learn and use is because unlike Blender…it is consistent, it uses the most common technical terms, and it requires very little memorization as far s hotkeys go. That alone would make it an easier to use application.

Look at it this way, imagine someone saying “Blender is easier because it has many many hotkeys all tied to different windows tied to mouse location, its easier because it lacks consistency, and its easier because it often uses non-conventional terminology”. When you think of it that way, it sounds absurd right?

Again, Maya is very direct in how you interact with it. No modifiers or any of that, its just direct in how you use it. That IS easier, we might argue whether its worse for the pipeline, but it is easier…its innate in that approach. It is consistent, the 3d viewport controls the same way as the UV editor. All menu items and icons are clear in what they do and located in the areas across the interface. ONE button gives you access to all menu items and also allows you to pick which ones you want to see with that key press. This cuts down on window based hotkey memorization.

It is easy to use, I can say that as though its a matter of fact. IF someone is used to a different workflow and a different application, naturally there will be difficulty adapting, the same goes for those other app users trying to use blender.

Interesting thread indeed.
Do you guys think blender will be in the industry standards in like 3-4 years from now? I mean it’s growing fast, when I saw blender earlier versions I was like “damn, I would never stand to work in that stone age interface! :O”, without realizing that it was looking like that until blender 2.5 where a drastic change took place (especially for the interface I guess). I started using blender a bit more than a year ago when 2.59 was the newest version so I didn’t experience that change my self but I can imagine how huge it must had been to everyone.

One reason why I like blender is because as you guys already said, you can do a lot in it (but it’s not really good in any of it). But as @badoli said, blender is improving all the time and I think it would be awesome if blender could be very good in everything (maybe impossible goal). Anyways, is it hard to adapt to Maya or 3Ds Max from Blender? Or is it fairly easy and quick?


I learned 3D max years ago and would be willing to do tutorials on my youtube channel. Unfortunatly, I’m worried that I would get in trouble because I don’t have a licensed version and there’s no way I can afford one. That’s the reason I moved to blender in the first place. If anyone has any ideas on how I could get a legal version(not pirated) for reeeeal cheap (or free), I would be very greatful and make tons of tutorials.

I had 3ds max and maya both pirated as well but I haven’t installed any of them since I reinstalled my computer because I have never really used them, I use blender because I thought it was easier to learn. I think I will install Maya and 3Ds Max soon just to have if I wanna use them.

Anyways, I don’t think you will find a cheaper licensed version than the ones Autodesk sells, if someone sells a cheaper one, he’s probably tricking you by selling a pirated one.

You have a few options, one is if you are a student you can get the student version for free. Pretty sure there are other ways to get the student version by IDing as it as self study.

The other is to use an older version of max that was released for free, though not for commercial use…its called Gmax.

Finally at least with Maya you can get the MataLT version which is only $799, its a slimmed down version of regular maya which focuses more on game development.

Oh well, guess I didn’t know much about that area then! :smiley:

One gold gem a lot of people miss is Houdini. Which I now believe is going to gain more and more ground.