Sunday, August 28, 2011

From Blender, to Max, to Maya – my general progression in 3D

When I first got into 3D modeling, I was using was Blender. The fact that it was open source made it good program to start with, but as I began to dig in I realized that a lot of the tutorials and information out there was not put together well. Blender is a good program, I’ve seen some artists do some amazing things with it, but I personally didn’t like the interface or the results I was getting.

This was one of my first renders in blender. I posted it to my facebook in October, 2009. I was very proud of myself at the time, and excited to start working in 3D!
(Almost 2 years ago– which feels like another lifetime.)

After working in blender for a bit, I made the decision to switch platforms, but I wasn’t sure which program to use. At the time it seemed like 3DS Max and Maya were basically the same thing and it just came down to user preference. There appeared to be a larger community for 3DS Max, with more tutorials and support, so I ended choosing Max.

There is no doubt that Max is a great program. You can pretty much do anything with it, but because there are so many options and plugins, it takes a while to get a hang of them all. I’ve been working inside of 3DS Max about a year, and I’m nowhere close to having the program mastered. Every time I open the program I learn something new.

It’s sometimes frustrating because I’ve spent hundreds of hours in there, but because I am learning on my own, most of my time is spent figuring out why something isn’t working like it should. I can’t tell you how many countless times I’ve been working on a project, things are going well, but then because I forgot to do a step 5 stages back, I have to scrap the project and start from scratch. I know a good practice to save your work in stages, and that’s something that I’ve been doing more of lately.

This clock was one of my first renders inside of Max.
I posted it in May of 2010.
One of my biggest frustrations with Max is how SLOW it is.

I figured it was my system— at the time I was just running an AMD Athlon II, which was decent, but it was hardly an ultrabeast.

Because Max ran so slow I decided to go top of the line with my new system. I upgraded to an Intel i7-2600 thinking it would boost things up, and it has to a degree, but 3DS Max is still by far the slowest program I’ve ever used.

The problem is that MANY features inside of Max are not multicore supported.
(And by many, I mean almost all of them.)

When I built my new system I did not know this. I just assumed that Max would support multicores, but I was wrong. It was shocking to open my task manager and see only one core humming away. I thought I must have had some settings wrong, so I did some reading, and found out that at the heart of 3DS Max lays really old code, even Max 2012.

All that aside, I’ve been finding that Max doesn’t really fit into some of my work flows. This is especially true with character development, and working with Zbrush. There are workarounds, but I don’t even want to go into some of the frustrating situations I’ve found myself in to get a result I’m looking for.

One of the more recent renders I did inside of Max.
See if you can spot what is off with this one. (July 2011)

I’ve decided to put more emphasis in using Maya. I’m still a total newb inside of Maya, so there is a lot I’ll be learning, but I’m hoping that because I have a solid base understanding of how 3D programs work, I’ll be able to pick up on things much faster. I guess we’ll see.

In my next post, I’m going to briefly go through the process of box modeling Vikky’s hat in Maya, exporting it to Zbrush, and adding some high detail.

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