Blender, Maya, 3DS Max

Max (and I assume Maya as well) have hotkeys just as well.

This post and thread was actually a refreshing and interesting read.

When I saw the title I was thinking “ Oh no. here we go again." But this was different, Informed and thoughtful.

I don’t think Maya has ever been the most user friendly as a stand alone app for the individual. Not in the same way Max Lightwave or Blender traditionally are. To me it’s always been a big studio tool designed to be customized for specific specialized tasks and jobs across a studio. Maya’s big advantage is that it has always been the big pipeline king. Being amazing at managing and sharing complex sets of packaged data across a network. As a stand alone tool it can often become a frustrating and tangled environment to work in I think. Especially when working as a generalist.

I came to Blender after many years in the games multi media and animation industry working with the other two. I jumped in way before 2.8 at around the time of Sintel having been so impressed by the film. I loved it. And a big part of that was realizing how well it was set up for the independent artist or small team. For instance the built in compositor and sequence editor. Now after 3.8 it’s obviously getting even better.

There is still a lot of focus on Blender being the lesser by the fact that it is ( … free … ) And also that this is the big advantage. Simply that it is supposedly free. I never saw it that way. The open source nature of Blender has been used as an advantage but in a way I think that it has fostered a very unique development path and character to the app. I think Blender has been making it’s own way in many areas and has evolved I think into something very distinct and unique.
It’s very much got a clear identity which sets it apart. It’s certainly not the lesser free version of Maya or Max.

I saw a video where the Flipped Normal guys said Blender suddenly became a so called … real app … after 2.8. I totally disagree with that. Besides I was using Blender in house alongside Maya long before 2.8 time. Simply for the efficiency and ease of use it already had in many areas.

I commented on a ZBrush post a few days back that it was getting tiresome that it always had to be Blender vs everybody else when talking about other apps. I thought the main advantage to Blender’s sculpting tool set was having it in there with everything else. And the ability to use it in animation and alongside modeling. In the same way that there is a built in Compositor and video sequencer.

So broadly speaking I think Blender is the ultimate generalist 3D and animation app right now. But this is not to say the tools are not high quality. Far from it. But if anybody is wanting to make their own projects and films I don’t think there is anything better suited to that right now. It’s just got such a great environment for it. It’s just so quick and efficient to jump from one specialized area to another. And they all link up.
And if you are using it for studio or production work then it is certainly not the lesser app there either. They all have strengths and advantages. And Blender plays along well now with the others. Even better now that Alembic has got so good. I was just recently using Blender Alembic dynamic paint animations and ocean effects in a Maya based pipeline and it all worked out great.

Basically I don’t think anybody is slumming it using Blender anymore nor settling for second best.

And it’s not being made all for free. A large part of why it has got so good now is because so many are contributing on a regular basis through the Cloud and Development Fund so it can be there for everyone.

phew… Sorry for all the text. Talking about software and animation can be a welcome distraction in these troubled times.

Take care and stay safe.


Looking through the menus/toolbar, I saw no mention of them in the either tool-tips or tool labels. Same with Maya.

3ds Max comes with one of the best manuals I´ve ever seen. I am sure it can tell you how to set up hotkeys.

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Ah! Okay. Good info to pass along, so let’s make sure he sees it: @Musashidan.

And while we’re at it, I highly recommend The Blender 2.8 Encyclopedia by Christopher Plush and Lee Salvemini. I mean, I’ve been using Blender for almost ten years, but this series really helps transition from 2.79 to 2.8x… one video, one subject, succinct and to the point (the ones I’ve watched so far, anyway).

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Thanks. I don’t think anyone will ever accuse me of being a Blender fan-boy. :slight_smile:

Good point. I never thought about it this way. Each time a new application was built into Blender (VSE, paint, sculpt) my first thought was always: “Oh, man. Here we go again.” But, you’re right. When you don’t have to fire up another application, don’t have to save what you’re doing so you can load it elsewhere… it’s a big advantage.

And I"m embarrassed now that I ever thought this way. :blush:

This can be seen, also, as the subscription fee and frankly, you can’t beat it at $15/month CDN.

And you.

Perhaps, but that’s a lot of work. It’s hard enough convincing myself to keep my butt in the chair to do the actual work without taking that on, too. :slight_smile:

Ok, but you can just learn the default hokeys like you apparently did in Blender.
Almost every program has hotkeys. Hotkeys are nothing specific to Blender.

That was my favorite sentence here🤣.
Tbh the only places where I can find cumbersomeness in blender is the only places where (in my case Max isn’t too cucumbersome) and is mostly fixed by addons, such as align tools, bool tools, or loop tools, which come with blender or this ones which you have to download.

Btw, Max doesn’t even have hotkeys for meding appart from just inset and bevel (Called chamfer there) and it’s for the non-numeric option of those tools. In the 2020 version I believe they added a few more and made keyboard customization a bit better, but from time to time it break and made me have to use a backup hotkey file to not setup all the keys again.

Also one note: When @Musashidan says animation is slow, he’s right, and he’s not refering to hotkeys, but this Blender 2.8 Viewport Performance

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I didn’t mean to imply that they were, just that I wasn’t seeing anywhere near as many in either Maya or Max.

And to be fair, the Max manual is likely a lot better than Blender’s. I find the whole explain-what-each-tool-does-but-not-how-they-fit-into-the-workflow approach do be right next to useless. I can’t speak for Max’s manual on this score, but Blender’s takes this tack. Not exactly useful unless you’re already highly experienced. And let’s face it, if someone’s that experienced, what the hell are they doing looking at the manual anyway?

And being no expert, even after ten years, I found the Blender 2.8 Encyclopedia course I mentioned earlier fills in a lot of those gaps, bringing tool-use into the workflow quite nicely.

I haven’t run across all those yet. Thanks for the list.

Right. Got it. My apologies to @Musashidan for missing his point.
When I’m faced with this slow down, I check Simplify in the Render properties and crank the Max Subdivisions down until it runs at full speed. Yeah, it could be optimized to run faster, but at that point, I’m mostly concerned with how things are moving rather than how the shadows/AO/etc. are looking. (My wife calls this: picking your battles :slight_smile:) If I need more precision than is allowed with no subdiv, I set up a camera really close up (ie. nothing in frame than what I need to see with high precision) and do a playblast.

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The thing I like best about Blenders hotkeys is that you can string them together. For example


I don’t think any other 3d app has that.

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There’s only ONE THING that I miss from 3DS MAX and it’s the Poly Meshes “Conform Tools”. I absolutely LOVED those.

It’s a damn shame Blender doesn’t have something equivalent.

Apart from that? Hell. I don’t think anything can top Blender at this point.

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Max has some pretty useful modifiers. The edit poly modifier alone is increadibly useful. Large scenes are very fast in 3ds Max. Editing very high poly meshes in Max is very fast.

There are plenty of other things that are better in Max as well. It is just that there are even other things that are worse. The frequent crashes, the startup time, the 15 or so gig you have to download, the license registering, the paying, the paying even more for a decent renderer, and even more for render nodes. The crappy UI, the material editor and on and on.

All in all 3d apps are more or less on par with advanteges/disadvantes in certain areas.

Oh for sure. Maybe I exaggerated a bit but for my own uses which is Game Dev, I really don’t need anything more. I can do everything I could do in Max and more. Well, except conform but that’s another story.

Blender 2.8 really was a game changer.

Most missing max modifiers is select mesh components by region, vertex groups is quite limited eg to apply a bevel after boolean on selected edges.

Isn’t that more or less like Blender’s Shrinkwrap? In theory anyway. I’ve found Shrinkwrap to be a bit of a pain to work with, but that may be my lack of experience with it. I was using it last week while retopologizing a character mesh. I may also have been expecting too much from it. What I had hoped was that I could add the modifier to the stack, make sure the ‘cage’ of the retopo mesh enclosed the original character mesh, then select all vertices and… I don’t know. Magically it wraps itself onto the original mesh?

Have you ever used the marking menu’s?
That’s what an Maya user does to increase speed - it’s fully gesture driven and context sensitive and can be very fast since it depends on pure muscle memory.
Also spacebar for having all the menues on screen - easy reachable and configurable.
Saying that Maya is slow because it doesn’t provide the kind of shortcuts you are used to is intellectual dishonest if you don’t check out the appropriate ways of doing things fast.
Maya has a ton of shortcuts but they are spread over a broader spectrum of tools and functionalities.
Blender is fast in the beginning of a project and Maya is not - but if the project increases in complexity, Blender gets consistently slower and less effective, while Maya keeps its speed or provides big jumps, that demand a lot of work on the Blender side. And there comes a certain point when Blender no longer can keep up in speed and in performance and functionality and it becomes a pain in the ass to proceed until it becomes impossible.
Maya too is a pain in the ass when dealing with ever increasing complexity, BUT it works despite the pain and the ceiling is much much higher.
For an Artist that has to choose the question becomes: how much pain and what kind of pain can you tolerate to reach your artistic goal and are you willing to compromise.
I am not willing to do that, so I choose Maya for everything animation related, while I use Blender for the things it does better/faster.
And that is what I would always recommend. A single artist who can use more than one tool in a way that balances the weaknesses and strengths of the tools is always more productive than an artist that sticks to one tool only.
Same applies to teams.

Remember: Every time you have to choose between 2 opposing extremes, the choice is a lie as it denies the possible 3rd option that unites the opposites.

This type of remark is unwelcome. Bye.

Well yes and no. Think of it as Shrinkwrap… but as a brush.