Today’s article will be discussing some of the bigwigs when it comes to 3D modeling software packages, Maya vs 3DS Max. At the end of this article is a summary of the important differences between the two packages.

Which one should you choose to work with? Which one is the best? This might be a very good question to answer as trying to learn a new software package can be exhausting.

When it comes to software packages though, there isn’t necessarily a ‘best’. It all depends on what you are trying to accomplish and your level of proficiency with automation.

Both the 3DS Max and Maya packages are owned by Autodesk. The 3DS Max package is popular because it has a larger user community. Many people actually start out with this package, being the lesser priced before upgrading to Maya.

The tools and user interfaces are becoming more similar, but Maya is still the higher end tool, hence the user interfaces can’t necessarily be the exact same.

Maya vs 3DS Max: Which One Is Better Suited For Me?

As I have already alluded to it before, it all depends on your needs as a user. If you are in animation, Maya will suit you better. If you are into gaming then 3DS Max may be more suitable.

Maya is used more for VFX whereas 3DS Max is better for architecture and stable models. You can do some animation in both, though 3DS Max is quite limited if looking to do for example motion picture work although better suited if you do game development.

Maya is better if you want to work in the film industry. It is ahead in terms of adding special effects to film. It’s scriptable too (programmable), though the MEL programming language is proprietary and hard to learn.

Maya vs 3DS Max: Which Software Package Should I Learn First?

Autodesk 3DS Max may be more forgiving as you learn to work with it but at the same time Autodesk Maya is higher end and has more job opportunities.

From their 2010 release the Maya suite of products come packaged with a very cool and powerful new tracking feature called MatchMover 2010, which 3DS Max doesn’t come with. This new feature will actually allow you to apply some 2D tracking to some real footage then bring it into Maya and mock in a CG element.

Looking at Maya vs 3DS Max from a learning perspective, I would start with 3DS Max to get the basics, since it will give you a short learning curve. You could then upgrade to Maya should you still need to. And learning the simpler one gets you in the market faster.

You will notice that both models are relatively set up the same as far as layout goes, with small but significant differences. Let’s take a closer look at each package.

The Autodesk 3DS Max Modelling Software Package

Now, this is one of those programs that I’ve been playing around with for quite some time and you know what? It is absolutely a beast when you need it to be.

Now, 3DS Max is a super powerful modelling tool. You have the ability to create quite complex 3D models with a relatively fast workflow, which is something that’s absolutely awesome about it. You get with this modelling package a boat-load of modifiers that you can run and you also have a really good poly modeller.

Rendering Features for 3DS Max

The rendering is not bad either, I mean you’re looking at the ability to use mental ray, scan line rendering, v-ray, Maxwell Render, Octane Render, Lux Render and final render.

So you have a nice little variety of renders when it comes to the 3DS Max package but one of the downsides is the price tag. You are looking at almost fifty-eight hundred dollars for it. Now the great thing about it is you can get a free three-year license if you are a student.

You can just sign up with your student credentials and information to get three years of using 3DS Max for absolutely zero dollars and zero cents. Just make certain you use the package for education, no commercial use and you’re good to go.

The Autodesk Maya Modelling Software Package

This is where I started and then I had to basically go back and teach myself 3DS Max. Now, 3DS Max was a little bit harder for me to comprehend as far as learning how to work the program (it may be opposite for you). There was a lot more little tips, tricks and tools involved. It took a bigger learning curve for me to figure out 3DS Max at first.

Now Maya is really good at their animating. Also you can interject not only Python but also Mel scripting, which is not something that you can really do with a lot of 3D applications. Personally I just like the layout, I like the workflow in Maya a lot more than I do in 3DS Max even though they are both solid.

Rendering Features for Maya

The rendering is kind of up and down between the two and you have a lot of plugins for both of them. In the rendering realm you have your software and your hardware rendering for Maya. You also have v-ray render, render man, Octane Render as well as 3D delite in Maya too.

One of the things that kinda sucks is the price tags. You’re looking at about fifty-eight hundred dollars for Maya, keep in mind this is also another Autodesk product though, so if you are a student you get three years for free to use it.

Maya is also one of the few packages that Autodesk offers that is compatible on OSX. So if you are a Mac user and not so much of a Windows user, this is an option.

Maya vs 3DS Max Summary:

1. Maya is used more for VFX vs 3DS Max for architecture
2. Maya is available on Mac vs 3DS Max not available on Mac
3. Maya better suited for animation (film industry) vs 3DS suited to game development
4. Maya more higher end, pricier vs 3DS Max restricted, lower price point
5. Maya packaged with MatchMover 2010 vs 3DS Max not packaged with it
6. Price is $5775 for each of the packages

If I were to have to pick my personal preference I am going to pick Maya because it can do everything that 3DS Max can do and more. But having said that assess first your requirements before purchasing any of the two packages.