Blender or Maya for basic learning + use?

General Discussions, Polls, Lists, Video Clips and Links
Post Reply
AV Forum Member
AV Forum Member
Posts: 201
Joined: May 24th, 2021

Blender or Maya for basic learning + use?

Post by GeffreyDrogon » May 24th, 2021, 9:25 pm

I am trying to learn animation, so I've been trying to use Blender. I wonder what you others on this group think of that. Have any of you used it? If so, what do you think of it? I can't afford Maya, but I am curious to learn more about animation.

I am an autistic 21 year old, and I want to know if there's other people on this forum who understand Blender.

User avatar
AV Founder
AV Founder
Posts: 21586
Joined: October 22nd, 2004
Location: London, UK

Re: Blender or Maya for basic learning + use?

Post by Ben » May 25th, 2021, 5:18 am

Hi Geffrey! While we do have many industry eyeballs that look at Animated Views, only a very few of us actually post here, so please don’t get your hopes up that you’ll be barraged by a number of responses to your question, as most people here are a (smaller and smaller number of) admirers and fans.

That said, I myself do a lot of work in post, and so I see a lot of stuff coming in from various pipelines and vendors, and the ultimate result is that, however the final shots come in to me, they’re all of the same visual quality, with many individual artists using different programs and "cheats'" to get the required finish.

So, just as I say whenever anyone asks me what the best editing software is, I always reply that it’s the one that works best for any individual artist and gets the job done. At the end of the day, most people reading these boards will not know or see a difference between Maya or Blender or any of the multitudes of other programs out there, nor understand the difference even between the looks of the different renderers: the only thing that matters is if the shot/sequence/film lives up to what the original intention was behind it.

In short, and as I and many others will have done, use what you can right now and become very good at it.

Learn where the tricks are and how you can make software go just that little extra mile to achieve something that maybe looks or feels like it had a megabudget behind it. And never lament that you can't afford the hot software of the day, since everything gets supplanted by something else eventually. Remember Silicon Graphics? We had one SG workstation back in the day...and ended up literally throwing in in the trash. That was an expensive bin day!

Watch old animated movies and get inspiration. Yes, everything is whizz-bang CG eye-candy these days, but the actual *animation* in these films varies wildly. Look at the past masters: everything we see today stems from decades and decades of filmmaking advancements, and sometimes just plain "homages": there's plenty in the current crop of Pixar films that harks back to Disney's stuff of the 40s and 50s. Design is also important: two films that really strike me at the moment are The Mitchells Vs The Machines, and Pixar's upcoming Luca, because they each have their own very distinctive look.

From what I’ve seen of Blender, it’s an enormously advanced tool and creates amazingly good results. Once you’re up to speed with one package like that, swapping around and learning another one down the line becomes that much easier, too. It will seriously be worth you seeking out and joining other, more creatively focused boards that will be more full of like-minded people, but my advice is just to have a play with it, work out what you can do with it, and just work towards creating the best work you can.

And always, always, always...have fun with it! Good luck! :D

AV Forum Member
AV Forum Member
Posts: 1758
Joined: December 16th, 2004
Location: Burbank, Calif.

Re: Blender or Maya for basic learning + use?

Post by droosan » May 26th, 2021, 9:54 pm

Ben has already said much of what I would've. :)

I think the current version of Blender is a perfectly viable platform for learning the basics of CG animation. I've dabbled a bit in Blender in the past few months, and I'm very impressed with its capabilities.

If you're looking for a job in the industry right now, you'll find most of the larger studios -- and even many small vendors -- will expect that applicants are fluent in Maya or 3DSmax .. or perhaps Cinema4D. That's just the way most production pipelines are set-up, at the moment.

However, I happen to know that Blender is beginning to pop-up at a few major studios .. especially at the early 'pre-visualization' and/or 'look development' phase (and only as part of a suite of other software solutions). There's no guarantee that may 'stick' -- nor even that Blender might eventually expand into other parts of their production pipelines -- but it's certainly a possibility.

It will take several years of learning -- and a lot of hard work -- to get to the point of becoming a professional artist, anyway .. so don't obsess too much over what the state of the industy is now (nor even what it 'might' do).

Concentrate on learning the basics:

• creating cleanly-subdividing models and efficient UVs (if you aspire to be a modeler)
• lighting and material creation (if you aspire to be a lighter or shader)
• keyframe animation and timing/performance (if you aspire to be an animator)
• camera tracking and compositing (if you aspire to be a compositor), etc.

Each of these will take time to learn .. and then more time to become proficient. Stick with it .. and concentrate on the part of the process you most enjoy. Some smaller studios like to hire artists that can do 'all' of these things .. but most tend to compartmentalize, and hire only specialists in one of the above tasks.

:arrow: It's also important (perhaps more important!) to simultaneously study general art and design concepts .. 'appeal', composition, color theory, etc. Detailed studies of anatomy (if you want to be a character/creature artist) or of architecture & geology (if you decide to specialize in environments) are also extremely useful pursuits. An artist's ability to sculpt a character or to build a prop is secondary to his/her ability to understand why the model is 'working', from a design/structural POV .. and how to 'fix' it visually, if it isn't. That's something no automatic CG tool can do; an 'artistic eye' is the whole reason we humans are still a vital part of the process. :wink:

It's very possible to transition basic skills to other 3D software packages later. It may even become necessary! As Ben noted, SGI was a hot thing once .. as was Softimage .. and (in my own case) Lightwave 3D.

Best wishes on your learning journey, GeffreyDrogon! There's endless resources out there for art & CG instruction, compared to when I started in the early 1990s. :oops: Just realize -- as Ben and I have said -- that it will take many years, and a lot of hard work and practice to reach a 'professional' level .. so, make sure you have fun doing it. :mrgreen:

AV Forum Member
AV Forum Member
Posts: 201
Joined: May 24th, 2021

Re: Blender or Maya for basic learning + use?

Post by GeffreyDrogon » September 26th, 2021, 6:40 pm

I want to get better at drawing basic anatomy, but I'm squeamish about doing dissections.

User avatar
AV Founder
AV Founder
Posts: 21586
Joined: October 22nd, 2004
Location: London, UK

Re: Blender or Maya for basic learning + use?

Post by Ben » September 26th, 2021, 8:24 pm

Um…

AV Forum Member
AV Forum Member
Posts: 201
Joined: May 24th, 2021

Re: Blender or Maya for basic learning + use?

Post by GeffreyDrogon » September 26th, 2021, 8:47 pm

(Look at the answer from Droosan) I was referring to anatomy being crucial to learning Blender.

AV Forum Member
AV Forum Member
Posts: 201
Joined: May 24th, 2021

Re: Blender or Maya for basic learning + use?

Post by GeffreyDrogon » September 26th, 2021, 8:53 pm

I do want to get better at drawing anatomy for characters, but it's just that I'm squeamish about doing dissections. That is one thing that's crucial to character design in Blender.

AV Founder
AV Founder
Posts: 6288
Joined: October 23rd, 2004
Location: SaskaTOON, Canada

Re: Blender or Maya for basic learning + use?

Post by Randall » September 26th, 2021, 9:34 pm

Dissections are not required. Just look at an anatomy atlas.
https://www.amazon.com/s?k=anatomy+atla ... _sb_noss_1

AV Forum Member
AV Forum Member
Posts: 1758
Joined: December 16th, 2004
Location: Burbank, Calif.

Re: Blender or Maya for basic learning + use?

Post by droosan » September 27th, 2021, 11:25 am

Studying anatomy -- from the perspective of a character artist -- is more about familiarizing yourself with the structure and form of a human (or animal) body:

• body and facial proportions
• where the main muscles are located
• how they join and/or work together
• how the joints and limbs move
• where muscles attach to the skeleton, etc.

You don't have to become a physiologist. You don't even necessarily need to memorize the latin names for everything. :wink:

:arrow: However -- it is something that will take a long time to learn .. a lifetime, even.

But as you learn (and practice!), your drawings -- or sculpts -- will absolutely improve.

One of my favorite YouTube art instructors is Marc Brunet. He has several videos dedicated to 'bite-size' chunks of anatomy knowledge .. delivered in a breezy, entertaining style. :) His 'paid' Art School For Digital Artists course goes much more in-depth (and is admittedly pricy, at ~US$500) .. but there's plenty of excellent drawing/anatomy advice in his free YT videos -- and he posts a new one each week. Here's one that gives a basic overview of how to approach figure anatomy drawing practice:



Another great resource for drawing 'construction' advice & character design practice exercises is Griz & Norm's Tuesday Tips .. also available as two paperback books (containing 100 tips in each). Griz & Norm are a couple of Disney character artists who have tons of knowledge -- and great advice -- for drawing 'appealing' characters .. and much of the info they share can inform sculpting of CG characters, as well!

User avatar
AV Founder
AV Founder
Posts: 21586
Joined: October 22nd, 2004
Location: London, UK

Re: Blender or Maya for basic learning + use?

Post by Ben » September 27th, 2021, 4:40 pm

I would add, though, that especially for animated characters, the movement is just, if not more so, as important as the anatomy, especially if the character is a whimsical caricature or cross between species. It can ultimately look like anything, but it needs to move authentically so as to be believable. That, naturally, does come from a study of anatomy, but it is just as important, to make fantastical creatures feel real, or at least like they could be real.

Post Reply