Autodesk Maya is a very popular 3D software that is used by professionals in many industries like game development, animation, and visual effect for feature films and tv shows.
If you are interested in this program or 3D in general you might be asking yourself is easy or hard to learn this stuff?
Well, in this video we will try to answer the question by breaking things down so anyone can understand what we are talking about.
Maya is like any other 3D software in the early stages of learning especially if you don’t have any prior experience, the road is going to be bumpy but you are going to get used to it real quick if you are not that kind of guy who is thinking about how terribly difficult it is before starting.
As a beginner, you need to keep your expectations low because you will not be able to work at ILM or Naughty Dog studios the next month because it is a gradual process that takes time. That’s why you need to aim at small milestones and you should be happy with results that are very simple because I guarantee you that being happy with the little things you create is the fuel that is going to take you to a place where you will be able to work on big animation, VFX or game development projects in the future and to be honest it is all about embracing and loving the process, if learning, making progress and growth is not what keeps you going in the early stages I think you will face difficult times down the road.
As a beginner, when it comes to using Maya, most people approach learning as a generalist because everything is exciting to learn, but, as you make more progress and you realize more things about the industries that use Maya like game development, VFX, and animation, especially, if you are learning on your own. You will start to gravitate towards a certain direction because the underlying or the Basic skills for those fields are the same but to be able to say that you are learning Maya for a specific field like game development or animation you need specialized and focused training whether you are learning in art school or online through tutorials and video courses.
I would say that the intermediate stage is probably the longest stage of an artist development because he or she is still figuring new things out that are sometimes challenging to wrap their head around but eventually it will become an easy thing through consistent practice. This stage is probably the longest and the most important because it defines you as an artist and what you will be working on in the future, and it completely depends on you as an aspiring 3d artist, it might take from one year to four or five years.
There are a lot of ways to define a professional. But according to Steven Pressfield, the author of two amazing books, titled “the war of art” and “turning pro”, a professional is not just a weekend warrior or someone who does practice his or her craft on the side as a part-time thing. The professional has both of his feet in the field full time with a commitment for the long haul.
In order to reach a professional level using Maya or any other 3d software, you need to make it your main thing or at least spend a ridiculous number of hours honing your craft to join the industry that you prefer to work in.
You can join a studio that works on visual effects, game development, Or Animation studios and you can also work from home as a freelancer or any other way to sell your services to professionals in the industry.
For me one way to define a professional who uses a 3d software such as Maya is a 3D artist that produces work good enough in quality to be used professionally in the industry whether you work in a studio, work as a freelancer or sell assets like 3D models, animation characters, Materials or tools that other professionals use to help them do their job faster and with less effort.
When you become a professional it does not mean that you will stop learning, I would say that the real learning begins when you join the industry because school knowledge is way more simplified than the real skills that can be learned in the field where stakes are high and you must generate results without excuses.
Now, we will discuss some of the differences of using Maya in different fields, how difficult they are, and what it takes to be good at each one of them.
creating animations using Maya whether you are going to do it on your own or with a team, is going to take a considerable amount of time also a lot of work but not necessarily hard if you have the necessary skills or a talented team of artists working with you.
You see animation is not about animating characters only because there are a lot of stages we need to go through whether we are creating a feature 3d animated movie, a short film or even video game cinematics.
The main skills required are: first modeling which includes creating props for environments and of course characters. To do this we need to be able to do sculpting, UV mapping, and texturing.
Then animation usually requires a process that is called rigging which allows us to prepare a character to be controlled by animators using a skeleton or a set of controls created by specialized artists called riggers and sometimes done by animators themselves if the project doesn’t involve a lot of artists.
Lastly, we need to know how to light scenes, create special effects, deal with cameras and render the whole thing then put it together. Of course this a simplification of the animation pipeline but it should give an idea about how the work is done.
Animation in Maya is not a highly technical field even though sometimes scripting or programming is needed to do particular things. This means it is entirely possible to be a good animation artist that works on amazing stuff if you keep learning and growing.
Maya is one of the best 3D programs that studios and professionals use in the video game industry because it has all the necessary tools that they need to get the job done.
If you have a passion for Making games then learning Maya to do it is not going to be that big of a problem. This does not mean that video game development is easy, actually, it is sometimes way more complicated than animation and VFX because it involves coding and programming artificial intelligence that makes video games playable and enjoyable.
For the most part, Maya is used in this field for creating assets like environment props whether it be simple or complicated, modeling characters, game levels modular environments that can be used later in a game Engine and of course creating animations that will be used in the video game.
Overall the skills that artists need to have using Maya for video game projects is similar to those necessary for animation projects but the major difference is respecting consoles and gaming computers ability to run video games in realtime smoothly which very important that’s why game artists use special techniques to do so, which is not very hard to learn once you understand how it is used and why. And The rest of the work is done using game engines.
Maya has a very powerful set of tools for creating visual effects but you have to put in the work to be able to generate good results.
Like animation and making video games, the basic knowledge of modeling and animation is required but there is an emphasis on visual effects and the ability to merge those effects with live-action using compositing, tracking, and keying which can really be tricky and usually needs years of practice to be able to create something that looks realistic and not CGI.
Generally speaking, working in visual effects is a fun process because you get to experiment and play around with different things to get to the desired end.
To be a visual effects artist using Maya it is also important to learn some of the fundamental concepts such as color theory, lighting, and composition.
And like a video game artist needs a Game Engine to import the assets that he created in Maya to continue working on the video game, a VFX artist needs to use a compositor such as Nuke to bring live action shots and the visual effects created and rendered in Maya.
4_Rendering & Visualization
Maya is not particularly known for visualization work but it can be used for this purpose nonetheless. This field is easier compared to the fields we talked about because you don’t need highly complicated skills to be good at it, basically, artists need to be good at basic modeling, dealing with materials, lighting, and rendering which are the determining factors of how the final result looks like.
Usually, visualization artists and designers can achieve very good results after one or two years of training, but of course the longer you do it the more professional you will be.
So the answer to our question: is Autodesk Maya Hard To Learn? The answer is it depends on what you are going to use it for.
If you are going to learn Maya as a hobby or to work on personal projects you can take your time to wrap your head around the concepts and techniques of 3D as you make more progress and become more familiar with the tools which are basically user-friendly and can be understood after few hours of practice.
On the other hand, if you are planning to learn Maya to use it professionally in animation, game development, or VFX studios, it is going to be a little bit different because the expectations are higher.
If you join an Art school you need to keep up with the assignments and the projects that will be given to you which usually are not that difficult to complete especially in the beginning because they don’t want to discourage you, but as the years go by you are expected to think on your feet and the artists that train you will not give much guidance because you need to be creative and a problem solver since this is what you will be dealing with at work every day.
If you want to be a professional Maya artist on your own it is going to be tricky because you have too much freedom which is good and bad at the same time. It is good because you can learn whatever you want whenever you want and this comes with a downside which is the fact that there aren’t people that guide you and tell you what you are doing good or badly even though there are some amazing artists teaching valuable skills through affordable courses these days that helped thousands of artists lean from home to become professionals working on amazing projects because honestly, studios don’t want to know how you learned, they just want someone that can help them create successful projects.