February 23, 2022

February 23, 2022

February 23, 2022

Houdini vs Maya - Comparison Guide

Houdini vs Maya - Comparison Guide

Houdini vs Maya - Comparison Guide




Architecture, Photography and Arts

Knowing how to use 3D modeling software will not necessarily make you a good 3D artist but it is the only way you have to fully express your skills. Knowing as much as possible will then make you artistically autonomous and will allow you to see with your own eyes what up until that moment was only in your head. You’ll be limited when trying to express yourself in creative fields such as that of 3D modeling if you do not support your ideas with the right technologies. In this article, we’ll talk about Maya and Houdini, two of the most used software, and through comparison points, we’ll discover together their differences and in what they excel!

How to Choose a Software to Do 3D Modeling

When we talk about 3D modeling we do not refer to a single software but it is necessary to select several that will help you achieve an optimal result for your project. It, therefore, does not matter which ones you choose, as long as it is a choice motivated by the analysis of some factors such as:

  • Starting skills:

Some 3D modeling software may not be very intuitive and user-friendly so if you are a beginner and do not have very advanced technical skills, look for software that helps you understand more without going crazy.

  • Budget:

Your starting budget could lead you to one choice rather than another. Many of this software has no affordable costs so evaluate them also based on your financial resources.

  • Work needs:

If you are new to the world of 3D, starting to use more than one software will mean for you to increase your technical skills if instead, you are a professional you can choose which software to do what and develop all the steps of your project in the best possible way.

Photo by Shubham Dhage on Unsplash

Houdini vs Maya - Uses, and Workflow

In case you possess some prior experience with 3D design software (even if just basic) and are trying to hone your abilities, Maya is the next piece to the puzzle of 3D modeling. First came into the market during the ‘90s, Maya is an Award-winning 3D creative software largely implemented in the creation of characters, animations, rigging as well as simulations and rendering. The software is very popular with animation and special effects studios and is behind almost every blockbuster or animated movie ever created.

Houdini is most regularly implemented for creating visual effects in movies, tv commercials, and video games. SideFX created this powerful tool that is now extremely popular and it’s used by the leading VFX studios out there, from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks, ILM, and many other big names in the industry. What makes Houdini different from the other 3D design software on the market is its node-based procedural workflow and in particular the procedurally generated fluids and particles that contribute to giving even more realism to an animated scene.

Houdini vs Maya - Interface and Learning Curve

The reason so many VFX artists love Maya comes from its large set of modeling, texturing, rendering, and animation tools that can be adjusted to suit your particular design process. With Autodesk Maya, you can apply dynamics via hard body or soft body settings, fabric simulations, hair, animation, and modeling for characters as well as many more of these tools.

These many options and functions on a pretty packed interface might seem intimidating to new Maya users; of course, there’s a learning curve, but it’s not as steep as other software and you can learn this software. If you are after a solid 3D modeling tool, Maya will deliver. With such a big community of users, and plenty of video tutorials available on the internet learning won’t be too hard. Maya comes in a monthly or yearly subscription and has a 30-day free trial for you to try before you buy.

Houdini’s intuitive workflow features a channel editor, dope sheet editor, and interactive timeline. You can set keyframes to any parameter or use Houdini’s advanced motion editing tools for more control. Based on a node-based structure, Houdini offers the possibility of creating hyper-realistic visual effects, animation, and 3D modeling and also has the rendering, lighting, and rigging functions inside. Houdini is chosen by many 3D artists because the quality of some visual effects is higher in this software than in others. With Houdini, you can create explosions with realistic smoke and fire, rivers with very truthful running water, destruction and collapse of buildings, grains of sand or snow, and multiply the characters to create crowds.

Learning to use Houdini takes its time, it doesn’t have an immediate use but the quality of the visual effects will pay off all the time it takes. It’s less indicated for novice 3D artists and animators. However, if your project isn’t commercial, SideFX offers a limited free version called Houdini Apprentice.


As you have seen in this case we cannot talk about better software between Autodesk Maya and Houdini. Precisely because usually single programs, even those with multiple functions, do not allow you to complete a whole project (apart from some specific cases). More often, this software is used within specific workflows as they excel in different applications. Below we summarised for you the advantages and disadvantages of these two software to guide you and help you understand them.

Photo by Milad Fakurian on Unsplash



  • Powerful animation tools

  • Procedural workflow

  • It is used in the VFX industry

  • It does not require plugins

  • It has a great built-in render called Mantra

  • A free version of the application is available


  • Steep learning curve, not for beginners



  • Powerful set of functions

  • Well known in the gaming and film industry, making it easy to get hired

  • Rather easy to use

  • Highly customizable interface


  • Pricey

As you probably have noticed they don’t have any major weak points other than the price or the difficulty in learning the software itself; at the end of the day, we’re talking about two of the best software in the industry.

Some users on the internet complain about the long rendering times, or crashing problems but this is usually due to the huge hardware requirements to run either software. If you’re facing the same issue and don’t own a powerful enough machine to smoothly run Maya and/or Houdini, Vagon is here to help you out. Being Vagon cloud-based, by operating through it you can reach the performance of a high-end machine without the need to invest in one just yet.

Ready to focus on your creativity?

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