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Software comparison: Blender vs Maya (2022 update)

Introduction

Today we carry on with our battle of software! In our recent posts, we talked about Fusion 360 vs Solidworks and SketchUp vs Blender. In this blog post, we will come back to the latter one and compare it with Maya. What are the applications of these 3D software and how can they benefit your production? Let’s find out!

Is Maya harder than Blender? Why is Maya used more than Blender? We’ll try to answer these question through this head-to-head comparison.

What is Maya?

One of the leaders in the 3D modeling industry is Maya, developed by Autodesk. Maya has a wide range of tools for animation, simulation, and modeling. You can also use it for motion graphic, virtual reality, UV maps, low poly, and character creation. This 3D software is very popular in the video game industry. It can be used for detailed and realistic characters creation, as well as environments thanks to a great set of texturing options.

Did you know that the designers working on Game of Thrones also used Maya for some parts of their amazing 3D animations? You can see a great example of how powerful is Maya below:

VFX Breakdown: Game of Thrones: Season 7 by Mackevision from Autodesk Media and Entertainment on Vimeo.

What is Blender?

Blender is a free and open source 3D application from Blender Foundation. It has great tools for modeling, rigging, rendering, animation, simulation, motion tracking and some game and video creation options. You can also use it for low poly and UV maps. To customize the 3D software, it also offers advanced options for editing Python scripting. Blender is available for Linux, Windows, and Macintosh devices. Blender is a community-driven program and offers plenty of support forums, tutorials. The goal for the Blender Foundation is to allow the users to be a part of the software development, which allows for faster bug fixes, the creation of new features and better usability. You can even find our tutorial to start 3D modeling with Blender!

Blender vs Maya: What are the differences?

Now that you know a little bit about both of the 3D software, let’s see how do they compare. They might seem to have similar tools, but there are still a lot of different aspects to consider, such as cost, User Interface, and who are the programs aimed for. Have a look at the comparison and see which 3D application will fit your needs better.

User Interface

Both Maya and Blender are great animation software and run smoothly on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux, so most likely you can easily use them on your computer. The interface of the 3D software is very important for the designers to work. If it’s not user-friendly, 3D modeling takes longer, as you have to dig in options to find anything and you waste your time.

In our battle Blender vs Maya, according to the users, Maya wins as its interface is more clear and standard if you would like to switch from another software. The user interface of Maya is described as ‘’simple and effective’’ on many forums.

Blender User Interface

Maya Interface

Rendering animations

Rendering animations in Maya can be a challenge and quite time-consuming. If the rendering tools within Maya are efficient, to render animations, more precautions need to be taken while using Maya.

Animation is a bit smoother and easier with Blender which provides a simple set of options in the Render Output Properties tab, as well as in the Render Settings dropdown menu.  

For animators, Blender is our winner.

Which is easier to learn, Maya or Blender?

Let’s now talk about the learning curve of these two efficient and powerful programs. Maya and Blender both have a steep learning curve. Blender made some effort over the years to become a bit more intuitive, but in some aspects Maya might be more expressive.
Both of these programs have an important community, with nice support sections and learning tutorials. But Blender’s online community is way stronger and supportive than Maya. Indeed, this software can count on a large community of hobbyists, newcomers are more likely to find answers to their questions online, due to the high number of people learning to use this software independently.

Costs & Target Group

However, when it comes to the costs, the point goes to Blender in our battle of software. Blender is open source and free licensed, it is also a part of GNU General Public License (GPL or ‘’free software’’). Maya, on the other hand, costs almost 2 000 euro per year or 2 800 euro per year for 3D package: Maya + Media & Entertainment Collection (including 3Ds Max and Arnold). You can get a free version of Maya if you’re a student.

When it comes to the Target Group, there is no winner. It simply depends what your needs are. Considering the price and the support of the community, Maya is advised for big companies and studios. They can not only afford the 3D software but also need really advanced tools. Blender is a great solution for small-scale use in studios, for freelancers, and for hobbyists. Considering that it is a free software, it is very powerful and can be highly beneficial for smaller companies.

If you’re just starting your adventure with 3D modeling, Blender might be a better option to start. However, you should keep in mind the purpose of why are you interested in 3D software. If you want a professional career in the video game industry, Maya will be a better investment. It is much more widely used, just try googling ‘’3D designer job’’  and you will see that Maya is very popular. In saying that, 2k a year is a lot of money. Blender is also very well known in the community and perfectly meets the needs of school architectural projects, animation, and 3D modeling. It can also easily be used in small studios.

Maya and Blender : What applications ?

Our battle of software Blender vs Maya is tied 1:1 so far. Now it’s time to dig deeper into applications of both software. Latest versions of both software have rigging tools. They are a crucial component to create an animation. Obviously, both have texturing and mapping options.

Blender is quite popular among interior design and architecture students, not only for its free license but also because it has a great set of tools for texturing and lightning. Maya, of course, is also a good choice as it is meant for video games and has to be able to provide a lot of options for environment creation. Both of those 3D applications are capable of some amazing visual effects.

As for 3D printing, also Maya and Blender are capable of saving the correct file. Before you design your 3D model, make sure you know which technology would you like to print it in and what material you’re going to use. You can find all the design guidelines on our material pages. Both software can save STL files, which is the most preferable when it comes to Additive Manufacturing.

Let's recap: Key comparison points

  • Blender is free open-source software, while Maya is a licensed product
  • Maya provides customization via MEL (Maya Embedded Language);  Blender embeds Python3.
  • Regarding the user interface, Maya is more clear and standard.
  • The surface and texturing tools are just a bit more simplified in Blender than in Maya.
  • Maya is more adapted to large studio production, while Blender will be the perfect solution for start-ups and smaller companies
  • Both Blender and Maya have a steep learning curve, but Blender’s community is more supportive.

Which software should you choose?

Frankly, it all depends on what you need it for. If you’re more of a hobbyist, a student or you work in a small studio, Blender will be very beneficial for you as it’s free and has plenty of tools for different applications. If you’re aiming to stay within gaming and special effects fields, working in big corporations, Maya is the industry standard for 3D modeling. Whichever 3D software you choose, you can start learning it with our online tutorials!

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