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Blender 2.8 vs Maya LT

This isn’t one of those “I’m starting to learn modeling which program should I use”. I’ve used Maya LT rather extensively and have long held the belief that it is the superior software (which seems to be the general consensus, but of course to each their own). However, after playing around in Blender 2.8, I’m beginning to wonder if that is the case.

My main issue with blender was based on three things.

  1. The UI was disgusting. I would explain it as imagining you were modeling on a cluttered desk. Even though the cluttered desk doesn’t impact you directly, it still causes quite a lot of frustration no matter how used to it you get. Some people can work in a cluttered desk (or perhaps thrive off it), which is why Blender’s UI doesn’t bother some people. Maya’s UI is still probably less cluttered than Blender 2.8, but it’s quite tolerable.

  2. Blender’s viewport had a rather poor display. It was not very kind to the eye - looked very outdated. The viewport is now far superior to Maya or really any other 3D viewport I’ve ever used.

  3. The hotkeys in Blender are ridiculous. This wasn’t really rectified in 2.8 but I addressed it by literally going line by line in user preferences. Basically just removing half of them and remapping the others. I still prefer Maya’s “right-click to do everything”, but maybe someone will make a super piemenu for Blender in the future.

  • Maya LT is rather affordable so even though Blender 2.8 is free, I don’t think the price is a valid comparison.

What I’d really like to know is the specifics. What tools does Maya have that Blender doesn’t and vice versa for game content? Polygon Modeling tools seem to be a bit more complete in Blender (though 3DS Max still takes the cake), unwrapping seems to be a bit faster in Maya. I haven’t gotten far enough into animations to really judge either. Can Blender match Maya’s rigging and animation system? I know Maya LT has some animation features taken out of it… Sculpting and Painting tools don’t really matter because Substance and Zbrush going to be preferable.

Not really interested in “Blender is better” or “Maya is better” comments but rather what are the pro’s and cons of both from your perspective? Personally I feel that they are quite similar these days, but maybe I’m missing something?

Main reason I’m asking is because I’m looking at starting to make animations and once you set up the rig in Maya or Blender you’re kind of stuck with it for good or you won’t be able to edit old animations or your rig (assuming it even imports properly).

I’m a 3DS Max baby but I’ve tooled around in Maya before but it was mostly for school. I’m going to rant for most of this.

My take is, Blender feels like hot garbage on a first look. You really have to dive in and (what you said) undo practically all of the prebound hotkeys and set up your own. There are a few simple actions with the mouse that work in the viewport and a handful of some other menus, but you end up losing that functionality in the UV window (double-click, marquee selection, etc) because those actions do not smartly translate across the interface. Also because there are multiple hotkey entries that are labeled the same but are contextually used differently, makes setting up specific hotkeys a nightmare.

I’ve done a lot of animation in 3DS Max, being able to translate any behavior that I’ve needed from 3DS Max’s animation over to Blender has been mostly easy. There are a few hiccups that I wish the Blender community or documentation had issued as a need-to-know. Biggest and dumbest (easiest to fix) is that when you start weighting(skinning) a model, MAKE SURE to tick the “auto-normalize” tickbox in the brush panel. If you don’t, every bone will weight itself in the worst manner. That switch should be on by default, so make sure you are saving a startup file to hold that option on for you. So much future headaches to be had. The other thing is Blender will try to advertise “control bones” as the propper method of setting up rig animation controls. Do Not Buy That Trash. You can make all the same controls out of splines/objects as you could in 3DS Max and arbitrarily assign them to each bone’s constraints. Last thing is posing a rigged mesh will only export your T-pose until you do some weird operation where you double-stack your skin modifier, apply the desired pose to the skeleton (it’s in the context menu next to the mode dropdown (bottom-left of the viewport)), then apply one of the skin modifiers. For context, I was trying to rebuild the VR hands that you might have seen in a few vr demos, I needed them to be posed around an Oculus Rift controller but they kept exporting in a flat pose.

I have not yet built blendshapes; that’s actually the next thing to do on my list.

Basically Blender works great if you can make the effort to literally translate your skillset. I have a big dumb notepad that I constantly reference just for Blender operations that make little to no sense coming from 3DS Max.

One other note for hotkeys, run a search in the user-preferences > inputs window (hotkeys) for “call menu”. Make sure you look through all of those menus (most are contextual so you won’t see them unless you’re currently in the right mode (i.e. object mode, edit mode, pose mode, etc)) and save/right down all the ones that look like they have desirable tools. I do a lot of modelling, so I’ll just say, almost all the Mesh call menus are desirable. Most of the options that appear in any of the call menus are not found anywhere else in the Blender interface.

Actually, you can edit the animations and re-export to replace the animations you’ve already brought into unreal, without stepping on the rig. Just make sure you target the skeleton in the import options. When you edit the skeleton hierarchy (adding/removing bones, renaming bones), that’s when your work gets busy.

First time when im change from max to blender, i have this problems too. Ugly, total different control, user panels etc.
Now, after 1-2 year using, i realy like blender, better than max or maya.
If you learn the logic behind the blender using, its a great FREE software, with great plugins.

This is gonna be a hot topic now with Blender 2.8, so I thought I’d chime in.

I am by no means an artist myself, but I do sometimes fill a technical artist role in that I handle FBX issues, work on automating artist workflow, etc.
Maya has much better FBX support, and this makes my life a lot easier when it comes to working with files from it.
However, I find Blender’s scripting interface to be far more flexible than Maya’s API.
Both of them have Python bindings, which is very useful, but in Blender it is somewhat easier to modify the underlying data and replace it with whatever you like.
I can’t say I know enough to know exactly why this is, but it feels a lot like Maya wasn’t really designed with heavy scripting in mind, whereas Blender works well with scripting by nature of the developers trying to keep all the data exposed and manipulable in general to facilitate an open environment.

I think the artist experience is better in Maya, though this may change with Blender 2.8 Beta, and I’m excited to see where that leads.
There is also a huge amount of potential in making a bridge between Blender’s Uber and Unreal’s shaders since Eevee’s system is based on Unreal, though it doesn’t aim for feature parity.

Until Blender 2.8 matures, I would stick with Maya, but after that happens it’s a good possibility that I’ll switch to doing as much as I can in Blender.

So I apologize for not being able to contribute anything to this discussion, because if I wrote this thread it would be the “newb looking to choose between maya,blender,3dsmax” topic. That being said due to it being free and the rework looking very nice I am probably going with Blender for now. My question is back to you @CalamityDev and you @NotSoAccurateNo1 when you both mentioned that the blender shortcuts are crap, would be able to give an example of what the most efficient hotkey set up would be?

Blender 2.8 is a massive improvement from UI and UX perspective. For the most part it retains all of 2.79 functionality plus that Eevee goodness. I’ve had good success getting animation workflow up and running with Blender and UE4. There are still edge cases where it needs custom handling. Things like how to setup LODs for armatures need more clarity.

I love Blender, especially Blender 2.8. It’s a huge leap forward in visuals, interface and usability. Back in 2012-2013 I was still using Maya, before I began my transition to Blender and it wasn’t easy because it’s really different control concept. Very shortcut based instead of navigating through pie menus. Also you are not playing around with the pivots as much as in Maya, because you can do a lot by just dragging the mouse (e.g. E for Extrude and then dragging mouse to extrude out and click to apply). But once you got into it, you will love it! For me Blender feels a lot faster and lightweight than Maya, but still not lacks of all important functions you need for creating your 3d models. Also the community is great with a lot of free and cheap addons in the Blendermarket.

Yes there are issues with FBX, particularly when exporting/importing skeletal fbx files, but there are working solutions to get the job done. I hope that other more open formats like glTF, which is also partly supported in UE4 now, will solve problems like that.

Definitely glTF! Progress is now growing in giant strides, and for similar formats the future. It is known only to the developers of the UE 4 and Blender about what they communicated in a closed meeting. If the rest of the packages do not fall into this stream, they will definitely not be the best for them. Blender is a real product that flies even though it is free and is supported by people who really love it, and do not feed promises to fix it, and as a result you get the same package with the same errors, but then its buttons have become more beautiful. 3Dmax -> Maya -> C4D -> this unfortunately was my long journey Blender, knowing this before, I would have passed to the blender without thinking. Certainly, every product is good for its purpose. Max hodgepodge of redeemed products made by an engineer for engineers, Maya’s circular menus and the constant rustling of the mouse over the viewport, but there were much more pleasant memories than with Max. If you want to go my way ahead! I just share my opinion, the rest can with foaming at the mouth to prove that the product in which he has more experience is definitely better or just the studio and the organization pays for it. On average, to master the basics of one of the packages, you will need a week of time to understand what is closer and more pleasant for you to master.

i tried blender, i thought it was overhyped garbage… it was rather convoluted, confusing not in the sense that i didnt know how to use it… but in the sense of wtf is all this crap on my screen that isnt even remotely related to what i am trying to do?.. it felt like some free open source to be blunt… and ive been using maya since… however, i just noticed the new 2.8 and it has piqued my interest, as i type this i am installing blender 2.8 and i am going to give it a shot… will it redeem blender? who knows, but im going to give blender another shot with 2.8

15 minutes into blender 2.8 im genuinely impressed, this looks and feels like a legitimate 3D modeling and animation software… wow, night and day difference, good on you blender, im going to have to model, rig, and animate something soon to give it a real test

I agree. Blender 2.8 is a dramatic and huge improvement for new users over previous versions. I won’t be buying any Autodesk products nor recommending them again, thanks to this new version of Blender. They finally got that less-than-ideal user interface replaced with something that people can much more easily adopt and learn on their own.

Here’s my take like 9 months after the question was asked…

I use Maya LT for whatever I can and reach out to Blender 2.8 for whatever I can’t - physics simulations and the occasional render.
I’ve started off w/ Blender 2.78, had switched to Maya LT after about 4 months in and would LOVE for Blender to succeed, but imo it’s still lacking.
I’ve been using Maya LT for about 3 years now so ymmv.

Blender… you will need add-ons and lots of them! Maya LT has everything you need with tools that are a joy to work with compared to Blender’s.
The problem with add-ons is if the bloke making your favorite add-on decides he’s had enough and moves on, you’re stuck with dead software.
The other problem with add-ons is the bloke making your favorite add-on usually doesn’t have nearly enough experience to make them.

Maya LT won’t do physics simulations or rendering, and Blender’s renderer is fantastic, can be run on Google Cloud with $300 worth of free credits and is GPU accelerated which is a bliss.
Also, with Blender 2.81’s (experimental) Intel denoiser integration, your time spent rendering stuff is roughly halved. Saves you moolah!

Blender 2.8’s viewports are rendered much more beautifully.

For me, animation with Maya LT feels much more natural and its sculpting and blend shape tools superior. For instance, you couldn’t sculpt on multiple objects at once in Blender the last time I checked, which was yesterday. This actually prevents you from doing some very cool stuff like fractured mesh sculpting animations (that’s a mouthful).

In Blender, exporting FBX with animations is a toss up - sometimes it works, sometimes !@#!$#!@#%

Maya LT doesn’t (yet) have the vertex animation tool used with its bigger cousin. Blender 2.8 does, which is fantastic.

UVs are a million times easier to do in Maya LT - Blender’s UV tools felt and feel lacking, just look at the number of icons and compare it to Maya LT’s.

I still don’t like Blender’s UI, it seems like they’re either trying to hide functionality on purpose or it just doesn’t have as much to begin with. I also need nice icons a la Maya LT.

So, this has been my honest experience working with both Maya LT and Blender for about 3.5 years now, to me they’re both indispensable but I try to keep my Blending to the absolute minimum.
Blender 2.8 is definitely a step in the right direction and I hope Autodesk won’t ever decide to cancel Maya LT in favor of the Maya Indie subscription!

To sculpt multiple things at the same time in blender I just merge the meshes, sculpt away, then separate by loose parts.
you have to be careful how/what you do ofc. But it works…

The reason like blender best, aside from the price point and licensing, is its extensibility.
anyone with a modicum of brain can come in and adjust whatever doesnt work for them with a script or a few lines of console code copy/paste.

Yes, maya has similar things - but not the price point.

Re the UV stuff, yes. That is very tedious at times. But if you learn to pin and unwrap it cuts down the time needed to UV even complex items by a lot.

Yes, blender has a much more approachable UI,and yes its nice there is help in general I guess ,for the ‘non programers’ amongst us <wink>.
One thing notable disgust for me,is the still slow viewport, thx to Houdini for alleviating that, very nicely. There are ways around it, slicing up mesh, hiding things yes, but I don’t need to do those things in Houdini, so for now Houdini is my GOTO .

If I recall right , they are still working on updating sluggish viewport, for most anything past or = to 300K (for me anyway and my system can handle most anything thrown at it ) ,and heck ya, Maya LT given very decent price, is incredible. Autodesk has incredible offerings, and in huge measure, thx to ‘MeshMixer’, I was able to work on a project related to my UE4 project, with literal ease and no slowdowns.