Blender vs. Maya for artists

Hi there!

So I’m just starting out with 3D animation. Before I get too comfortable with one specific bundle of software though, I’m hoping to learn more about the different options available. The purpose is for non-commercial stereoscopic 4K animations. (Yes, I know, I should just get a supercomputer XD). So far I’ve investigated mainly Maya and Blender. I’m hoping to use it along with ToonBoom Harmony, which supports 3D/2D mixed animations although it is mainly 2D software. However, all the comparisons I’ve seen between Blender and Maya have been using old versions of Blender which I hear had a far worse user interface. So, does anyone have any good links to a recent, fair comparison between Maya and Blender?
Maya has support for the 3Delight plugin ( which has built-in stereoscopic support, as well as a Toonboom Harmony plugin, so that’s definitely a plus, but I don’t want to have to shell out 5k unless there are significant advantages to using Maya.

Also, this may be a little off-topic for a software comparison thread, but would a maxed-out iMac (3.9GHz i7, 32GB RAM, 4GB GT 780m) be able to handle this kind of work? I’m guessing the graphics card might be under-powered, but since thunderbolt I/O is PCIe-based, I’m hoping to add a second graphics card over that for additional rendering support as needed. Hopefully stereoscopic 4k rendering won’t actually be the same as “8k” rendering.

Thank you very much! I realize these are kind of newbie questions, but we all have to start somewhere, right?

Moved from “General Forums > Blender and CG Discussions” to “Support > Other Software”

You’re “just starting out with 3D animation”? Do you have any animation experience at all? A background and/or education in the arts? Blender is certainly capable. If you’ve got the money, Maya is a nice program, too. However, your concerns about output resolution and stereoscopy are mere technical details that certainlly won’t turn crappy animation into a brilliant work of art. I think you’re putting the proverbial cart before the horse on this question. My advice? Find out what skills you need by using free or low cost resources. If you’re still at it six months to a year from now, then you can seriously consider what your future needs will be.

Thanks daveleitz,

I do have a background and some education in the arts, but none in animation unfortunately. I fully realize I will have to start out small and that it will probably take several years to go from no experience to being able to make a full-fledged animation. I’m willing to do it though. I’m currently a BFA college student, so I just learned I can take advantage of the free versions of maya and 3Delight, so I guess I’m still just looking for a pro/con comparison of maya vs. blender.

Nothing is stopping you from downloading Blender and checking it out. Maya is quite an investment, but if you plan to pursue a career in animation, it would be a good idea to learn it. Since you are a student, you can get the education version for a good price. You can’t go wrong learning Blender, so whether you decide to jump in full bore with Maya or not, Blender should be a part of your arsenal.

Hey Safetyman,

Unfortunately, I don’t have a computer anywhere near capable of handling blender just yet. I’m currently saving up for that imac, which
I should be getting early next year. Is there really no comparison of the two softwares available? Thanks again!

What kind of comparison are you looking for? You’ll have to bear in mind that anything anyone gives you will probably be a list of personal preferences; I’d be happy to give you my thoughts, but again, it’ll be probably a list of personal preferences, not absolute truths that you can take to the bank.

-I think Maya has a steeper learning curve. You get right into the dependency graph from the get-go, which may or may not be really confusing to newcomers to 3D. That said, if you’re familiar with object oriented programming, the dependency graph may actually make quite a bit of sense. So if you’ve done any programming, you’ll see what I mean.
-Modeling is vastly more fun and efficient in Blender, as far as I’m concerned.
-Blender’s NURBS modeling tools are nothing compared to Maya’s.
-Until Maya 2014, with its Modeling Toolkit, Blender’s retopology tools have been much more efficient. The modeling toolkit kinda shakes things up, though.
-Rigging is a lot more fun in Maya. That’s definitely nothing more than a personal preference. The concepts are very similar, but the mechanisms and hierarchies are very different.
-I enjoy animating in Blender more, with its “G-key, X-key, X-key”, etc., transform philosophy. Much easier on the wrists, I say. Maya’s kinda clunky, in that you’re always having to switch transform tools, and it feels like it’s always a shot in the dark that you’ll be transforming on the axis you want unless you explicitly grab that axis. Meh, I just find it clunky.
-Maya’s got a lot of different tangent types, but… what’s the point? You’re never going to just spline out all your fcurves using one tangent type and get a spectacular animation. But this is completely particular to your personal workflow.
-I like Blender’s breakdown tools better.
-I like Blender’s grease pencil better.
-Maya’s got some really nifty ghosting options, there are some really neat MEL scripts like bhGhost that give you even more interesting ghosting tools, and the motion trail tool is a little more robust than Blender’s, if only by a little.
-Cycles > Mental Ray. That’s a fact. Just kidding. But I’m totally serious.

There’s a lot more that can be said, but I’m sure that others will disagree, since, again, this is all subjective.

Well, there aren’t that many comparisons done (by professionals).
Here’s one, making a pipeline for 2D animation, Blender vs. Maya
Blender foundation channel has other interesting talks from latest bconf too, such as

Thank you both very much! That comparison and those links are exactly what I needed. I’ve decided that the animation technique used in a skeleton movie is exactly what I had in mind, and I think I’ll have a go with Blender and Freestyle instead of Maya and Toonboom. Thanks again!

Stick with blender for learning basics then you can invest into professional software and don’t buy a mac. You can buy two times better PC for less money.