Hello again, i want to open this topic for all advanced Rhino user and possibly some of you that uses other 3d software package such as 3dsmax and maya.
Since there is no way we can compare Rhino and 3dsmax (obviously 3ds is based on poly modelling and Rhino is NURBS), there is another 3d Beast that i like to compare with Rhino , which is MAYA.
This comparison is not trying to judge which software is better, but I want to know the advantage and disadvantage of using Rhino and Maya, based on your experience working in architecture project and product design. And possible finding a workflow that can connect both rhino and Maya.
Ill start from my own opinion :smile:

There is no doubt that in terms of precision, advanced surface editing, matching, creating A class surface, Rhino is way ahead frm Maya. And with addition of Grasshopper, surely even people with no knowledge of scripting can do awesome stuff. rhino has been acknowledged in architectural practice and most architect perhaps prefer Rhino over Maya. I used to think MAYA is only good for animation, its polygon tool is not better than 3ds max, and its NURBS tool is no better than Rhino.so it is pointless to spend more money and time to learn MAYA if you already got Rhino and 3ds max. HOWEVER…

Just recently i watched some video interview about ZAHA HADID ARCHITECT (almost all architect know this lady, she has produced one of the most spectacular architecture in the modern world, and her works really is a good example on how to utilise advanced 3d software into architectural design). On one of the interview, zaha hadid mention that her design team uses MAYA to experiment in the early design, since MAYA can use both NURBS and Polygon, it is perhaps the bridge that combine Rhino NURBS and 3dsmax poly into 1 single unified software. Not to mention MAYA is highly customized and it has node-based generative modelling similar to grasshopper (however u need to be very good at scripting, unlike GH which u have all the component prepared for u).

i then tried MAYA for 30 days and to be honest i am amazed by it., that software is totally geared towards design. It has direct button to convert NURBS to poly. And u know it already, poly is the easiest to tweak and play around since it works abit like clay. And MAYA also have sculpting brushes like Zbrush to make it even more powerful for designer to experiment with their geometry.

One thing to mention, is that MAYA has a very limited NURBS tool, it can do alright for creating NURBS object, rebuilding surface and curve but it doesnt have all the awesome surface analysis tool that rhino does simply i think because MAYA developer doesnt want to make the software too complicated. As long as it is good enough for design purposes, it will stay that way.

Since most of you here are expert RHINO users, i want to know if you have tried MAYA or perhaps uses MAYA in conjunction with RHINO as part of your workflow? Does MAYA python scripting provide more control than RHINO grasshopper? Or RHINO grasshopper is still the best generative modelling compared to MAYA? How good are these 2 software can be used together? How compatible is MAYA to rhino?

Thank you for reading…

:slight_smile: cheers

I think you answers to all your questions.
Keep in mind that Maya is in the same family as Alias Studio so it won’t be improved for industrial designers for the foreseeable future.
I see no advantage of adding another software that has no answers to the problems I encounter. It may be helpful for somebody who already has good knowledge of Maya.
Use the tools you master!

I’m not a Maya user myself, but I understand Maya’s strength and intended use is in conveying conceptual design like SketchUp.
Rhino is designed to be support the accuracy needed for manufacturing.

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some of the benefits you are seeing in maya is due to Sub-d modeling…this is a conceptual “half step” between polys and nurbs and allows you to model in a more fluid and organic way that tends to lend itself well to sculptural shapes.

there are several sub d plugins for rhino like Tsplines and Clayoo take a peek at them ans see if it doesn’t offer the additional power you are looking for-

Yes, I have tried Tspline and Clayoo, but they have so many bugs and Tspline price tag is too expensive :frowning:
Has anyone ever tried scripting in MAYA? How is it compared to Rhino GH?

T-Splines is too expensive compared to Maya?

I remember when I had gone through 35-40 hours of Maya tutorials before I accepted that I really hate Maya.

When I originally got Rhino 4, Flamingo, and Bongo, I went through every tutorial and help page of reference, and I still love Rhino.

IMHO, Rhino 3D has the best user interface of any 3D program.


Are you a student or educator? T-Splines is free. Full version. Look it up.

If it were any cheaper, they would pay you … and then come to your house to install it.

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In my next post, I will ask the internet, “Which will be more beneficial to my career in design, Microsoft Paint or Adobe Photoshop? I have never used either, so please help me understand.”

:smirk_cat: /s

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Maya is optimized for animation.

Rhino (and AliasStudio) is optimized towards design for manufacture (pre engineering - i.e, downstream Creo and Solidworks processing). Rhino is utilized for exploratory architectural design too.

Though there are certainly exceptions, generally speaking, objects in Maya are intended to just “look right” and objects in Rhino/Alias are intended to “be right”… if that makes sense.

In the end though, any tool, or combination of tools, which gets the job done, is OK.

Thanks for all the wonderful reply guys, just to make sure u dont get me wrong, i didnt intend to compare both software, but trying to find a way to get the benefit from both software.
I do agree that MAYA is only good at making object look “just enough for visualization” while rhino have more ability to create an object ready for manufacture.
Does that have anything to do in the software algoritm? Is Rhino algoritm more advanced than MAYA or both are actually the same, and MAYA has no intention to use full mathematical support in NURBS?

I have a few question i want to get a clear answer out from this topic=

  1. Is it possible to produce a generative (parametric NURBS,mesh,etc ) design in MAYA that is similar to Rhino GH?

  2. Does MAYA hypergraph work similar to Rhino GH?

Im sorry if i ask something very obvious, but i think it is good to have this selfish discussion, it can open another door to the new type of workflow that perhaps we have never known so far.

(Ps: Tspline is not free :frowning: it cost u 700 bucks or smthing last time i checked it.)


3d max is not only polymodeling based. It has nurbs and splines too, dig in!
I never tried Maya.

He was stating it’s free for students/educators, which as far as I know is true for all autodesk software.


I have seen Maya over the years and played around with it some. Maya is very much about animation at its core and hence is not in the same group as Rhino. One thing that makes Maya difficult for exterior or interior work is the way it does not use inches or meters but a generic unit system. That may have changed but I doubt it. You could not do dimension drawings in Maya. Maya is not as flexible with altering a design as Rhino. You could do a fantastic animation of the Falling Water house with the waterfall working in maya though.

Zaha Hadid’s office has hundreds of Rhino licenses. They also use CATIA and Revit.


Polygonal modelers use a ‘smoothing’ algorithm to smooth the display of objects that would otherwise look faceted. This is to reduce file size (especially for animation). So, in effect what you see in a polygonal modeler is not what you get. In other words if you send off the sphere that looks perfect in your viewport to be manufactured what you’ll get back is a faceted ball.

To the left is the actual geometry of the ball. To the right is the same ball with smoothing turned on. To get the visual smoothness of the ball to the right just by increasing the number of polygons would drastically increase file size. This is why people say polygonal modelers like Maya are for animation not manufacturing. The smoothing is visually convincing but it’s important to understand that it’s only happening in the viewport.

Hope that helps in some way.

Yes, rhino is using NURBS algoritm for that reason we dont have to worry about the resolution when manufacturing, polygon however, depending on the resolution to achieve a smooth curvature. Since any modelling in 3dsmax or maya needs to be redone in other CAD software, (revit) , anything done in that software should only be for visualization, nothing more.

For those who commented about zaha hadid, yes she also use rhino and revit and she also uses gehry bim method as well. But on the interview, zaha said she praises MAYA because for its flexibility when doing concept design. (I believe she use MAYA mel or python script to extend its uses) may I know if you guys know what kind of workflow she uses in MAYA and how does she incorporate that in rhino?is parametric panelling (for instance) is something that we can only do in Rhino?

Thanks for all your great comments.

Cheesrs and peace


Good summary. Here’s how I break it down for people just getting into 3D

Poly Editors / Sub-Division : mesh surfaces

APPS : Studio Max, Maya, Modo
BEST FOR : ‘Screen-viz’: video games, movie special effects, animation, design viz

TYPE NURBS : smooth surfaces

APPS: Rhino, Pro-E, Alias
BEST FOR : Industrial design, manufacturing, engineering, tooling

I think this conversation will never end. @Runnie you want to compare two different software but you have not specified what you want to achieve. What is the final product? Do you have any examples? Conceptual design? Rationalising geometry?

I know people at Zaha use both Maya/Rhino-GH to design their buildings and products. I know they also use T-Splines. So to make it clear they use everything, because no tool does everything they need.

I’m not sure if this was helpful but If you post what you want to achieve I am sure people in the forum will help (Rhino has a great community that is a big +).


PS. This is a project I worked on with former members of Zaha. It was all done with Rhino-GH (4 years ago). http://www.ilikearchitecture.net/2012/01/fluidity-gglab/

Great work Miguel! Thanks for sharing… I really like the detail photos of the construction.

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