How to use Maya after starting with Blender

I’ve been using Blender for about a year now, and I understand it well and feel comfortable with the tools and the interface. Now, I’m getting ready to go off to art school, and almost every art school I’ve looked at uses Maya, so I downloaded a student version of Maya. Since I learned Blender in less than a year all by myself, I expected to be able to figure it out in a couple of hours. Nope. I’ve only opened it twice since, because I can’t do anything in it. Except click the red X.

One of my problems is the widgets. I ALWAYS turn off the widgets in blender, but in Maya it seems like there’s no way of moving anything around without them. It’s like everything is done onscreen with the mouse or stylus. Are there seriously no hotkeys comparable to g s and r? There’s no precise way of moving things like g-x-1 in Blender, and since I’m a neat freak it horrifies me to think that a vertex may be 0.0001u off of the grid. Should I just get used to not being able to stay completely precise? Should I get used to throwing my keyboard on the floor and just using my mouse?

Also, any advice at all about using Maya or working in 3D professionally (I’m interested in animation) is greatly appreciated. I honestly don’t have a clue where to begin with Maya, so I don’t even know what to ask about!

Also, I’m wondering: Is it true that there are things about Blender that are just better than Maya? In particular I’ve heard that Blender’s modelling and UV mapping tools are better.

Now I’ve never used Maya, but I’d suggest that you try to learn Maya the same way you learned blender, however that was. If it was tutorials, go out and look up some tutorials. Since Maya is a more professional software, a lot of tutorials for Maya are not exactly free, so be prepared to drop some cash if you want higher quality tutorials.
Also, getting used to Maya’s interface just takes practice. If you remember when you started blender, the idea of using the right mouse button was…well…really weird. Now, it comes naturally. Maya’s interface should be the same way. It just takes practice. Also, I feel ya. I have to have everything completely aligned, and the thought of the vertex snapping going somewhere wrong scares me.
I don’t know about the UV interface, but I think it’s disputed that Blender has a better animation interface than Maya, but that’s just personal opinion from users of both softwares. Once you get into Maya a little more, you can form your own opinions on it.
Have fun with Maya and best of luck in art school!

Thanks! Yeah that’s a great point about the right click. Maya actually does have a lot of free tutorials, but it’s frustrating because I could do it all so much faster in Blender. And my art-nerves start firing and tell me, “Make! Make!” and I can’t ignore them, so I end up starting a new project in Blender and closing Maya. I’ll try to just be more persistent. But that doesn’t solve the widget problem :(. I like being able to g-x-1 and know EXACTLY where my stuff goes, every time.

So: I hope someone that has experience in Maya sees this and can help me!

There really isn’t, unfortunately. If you hold the J key down while grabbing the arrow, you’ll enable discrete transform which is vaguely like increment snapping in Blender. (you can adjust the interval in the tool option panel). You can also just change transform values by hand. If you want to make a copy of an item with a fixed offset, you can use the duplicate-special function for that. (Edit > Duplicate Special, or <shift>+<cntl/cmd>+D)

Blender’s poly modeling tools are way better than Maya. UVs are more a mixed bag, especially in newer versions where Maya has gotten some nice UV tools like unfold and the ability to jump a UV shell between UV tiles. For poly modeling though, it’s not even close. It’s less Blender’s tool are amazing (though they’re pretty good) and more that Maya’s are just crap. The basics are all there, but a lot of the more esoteric and corner-case tools just aren’t. There are also some very senseless behaviors that just seem like sloppy design, like bevel deselecting all faces when run.

Some stuff that is better in Maya:

-Rigging is way more flexible, if a bit messier as a consequence. Maya can do cool shit that Blender’s system just doesn’t allow for, like piping constraint outputs into a shader. Pretty much any value or output in Maya can be connected to any other value or output. Oh, and there’s a muscle system.

-ALL the commercial plugins! (or most of them anyway). Speaking of plugins, sign up for the free version of PRman when it comes out, or see if your school can get a student license of Arnold or Vray. Because Mental Ray is a piece of shit, and you will soon come to loathe it.

-References are glorious. Unlike in Blender where linked assets are always locked, Maya lets you add extra operations and properties to linked files, and these are re-ran when the file is reloaded. Referencing does give you enough rope to hang yourself with though, it might take some experience to understand how it works and what sorts of edits and source file changes you can get away with.

-Render layers. Instead of using a handful of property overrides (per-layer property settings), you can just arbitrarily override any prop you want. Material assignments, shader colors, texture connections, light brightness, object visibility, rendering flags, poses, locations, whatever.

As for learning it, it’s just something that will take time. It took me probably 6 months of using it daily before I really felt as comfortable in Maya as I do in Blender. For some general tips, try and get used to using marking menus, they’ll cut down on all the mouse clicks you need in Maya (which can be a lot). For example, shift-right-click will bring up a menu with modeling functions like extrude, loop cut, etc. Holding Q and clicking will bring up options for the selection tool (hotkey Q). Same thing with the W/E/R (the transform tools).

And no, the “complete tool” function doesn’t really do anything useful, at least not for artists calling it manually. No one really knows why it is located in such a prominent menu. Btw, if you find you get the select-all/complete-tool menu instead of the vert/edge/face menu (a common annoyance with new Maya users) it’s because you clicked on a blank area of the viewport instead of an element of your mesh.

Seriously, get the Mastering Maya book for your version of Maya. Or not even your version of Maya. I have a student copy of Maya 2014 and I learned everything I needed to know about 2014 with the Mastering Maya 2009 book (just don’t get a Mastering Maya book for earlier versions than Maya 2009!).

Read every chapter of that book, do the tutorials and you’ll have a pretty firm grasp on it in a few months.

Thanks, all of you! Especially for the stuff about menus and hotkeys. Pie Menus are a good idea, it’s nice to see them in Blender, too.

It sounds like I’m going to like Maya when I figure it out. I wish I could get that book, but I forgot to mention I have $0. I got Maya from Autodesk’s website as a student license. I’m gonna go to art school in a year (Hopefully SCAD if the scholarship goes through. I think I can do it), so I’m doing what I can now to try to get ahead of all the other incoming students. I want to be the best of the best! And of course I hope that knowing this stuff will help me get scholarships, but I’m counting on my 2D traditional work more for that. I can’t get VRay or Arnold yet, even though they are awesome. How does Luxrender compare to Mental Ray? I

Is there anything specific I should know? Like a tutorial (on the web) that was really helpful? Or a free download of that book? Anyways, thanks and thanks again!

Pixar is so awesome. I don’t know If I can even believe they’re offering RenderMan for free. It seems too good to be true!

Use W for move E for rotate and R for scale or something like that, use can add custom hot keys to Maya somewhere in the settings so that it acts more like blender if that helps. One difference I noticed between 3ds max and blender is how to edit objects, in blender you press tab for edit mode in Maya 3ds max you must go to the modifiers panel and select edit poly modifier. You move around the view port using middle mouse to pan mm + alt to rotate and scroll wheel to zoom. To switch between quad view and full 3d view press alt + tab. Although it seems confusing right now allot of concepts you learned in blender3D work the same in all 3d animation programs you’ll see after you learn the hot keys and stuff it won’t be hard at all. I recommend watching their getting started tutorials basic controls etc, also Edward Andrew made a decent tutorial series on you tube that helped me.

Thanks for the tips! I am gonna have to try out the modifiers, which is always fun. I found the Edward Andrew youtube page, but all the tutorials are for Max. Anyways, there’s a lot of Maya stuff out there, so I’ll just have to start with simple stuff.

I think he thought you were asking about Max :wink: there are no modifiers in Maya. Maya’s component mode (“Edit” mode equivalent) is actually super annoying most of the time. If the object you’re modeling isn’t isolated, you can find yourself accidentally entering component mode on multiple objects simultaneously. Sometimes this feature comes in handy, but usually it’s just a real nuisance. I don’t model anything except NURBS in Maya.

That’s interesting. I’ve never used NURBS in Blender. Anyways, I plan on just modelling stuff in Blender and using the new fbx exporter a lot. Until then, I’m gonna focus on learning the animation controls. Thanks everybody! And I’m sure if anybody else has the same problem as me, they’re thankful, too.

I am also transitioning from blender to maya for university and i thought that it will be superior in any way because its commercial, and i just had to get used to it. I could’t have been more wrong.

Blenders hotkeys are much better and more intuitive to use. I was pretty sure that any software was able to set hotkeys to automatically move but you really can just use a hotkey to access the tool where you have to use the mouse again.

Poly modelling is also a bit of a pain, for the lack of hotkeys and because it’s just generally slow to use.

Sigh but i probably ranted about Blender too when i started it so i just have to keep getting used to it

Maya is far better in workflow pipeline, thats the main thing lacking with blender.

So funny. I was just going trough the same ordeal! I picked up the full version of maya because many studios use it and I want to work in a studio lol. So I started messing with it and taking the same approach I took to learning blender. One step at a time and pretend I know nothing. I could not help but be annoyed. Maya is so clunky!!! Omg the steps I need to take just to add a simple edge loop!! Oh kill me. How does anyone use this lol. In blender I can put a model out in 3 minutes then switch to sculpt mode quick and slam him into shape then back to edit again for more finess, etc. in maya, the same stupid character takes 40 minutes lol. I find myself digging through menus searching for simple functions instead of simple keyboard shortcuts. Not to mention the tools just seem more superior in blender so far. I know I have more to learn. But these are my honest and true first impressions. Maybe they will change as I learn more.