Same at Snøhetta and other offices that work on the edge. And when working on the edge then you are always pushing forward and using the “best tool for the job” is seldom an option. So adapting and building the tool or adjusting the tool to solve a previously unsolved problem is part of the job.So they use the tools that the users know how to use, the ones that inspire them and gets the job done AND just as important they use the tools they WANT to use.

Both Rhino and Maya are such tools. Pick the one you want to dig into and dig deep. If you want to hear that Maya is the tool for you then it is. If you want to hear that Rhino is better than Maya then it is… for you… and that is all that matters.


It seems that the question is not really about which one you should use, but when you should use both. As has been pointed out, Rhino and Maya are good at different things, but I disagree that Maya is predominantly good at animation. I don’t think it’s questionable that Maya is better at animation than Rhino, but it has a number of other things it excels at as well.

I am not an extremely experienced Maya user, but I have used it in conjunction with Rhino on several projects. I haven’t used Maya scripting at all, so I can’t comment on how it compares to Grasshopper or Rhinoscript.

As a polygon modeler Maya has a much easier time making some complex curved forms. Any surface that cannot be easily broken into UV axes Rhino has to make with multiple surfaces which means more places to preserve continuity and therefore harder to edit. Maya on the other hand can create very complex forms with a fairly small number of vertices, so manipulating the form is very easy. Once the desired form is found, it can be smoothed to increase the polygon count and exported as an obj or fbx and brought into Rhino. The challenge is that once the mesh is smoothed it has many more vertices and is considerably harder to work with in both Maya and Rhino, so you’ll want to make sure you make a copy of it before it’s subdivided in case you need to manipulate it later. Rhino geometry can also be meshed and brought into Maya as an obj or fbx if you’re trying to coordinate between the two programs.

For the sort of “freeform” surfaces that Zaha Hadid is creating, Maya makes it much easier to manipulate those surfaces than Rhino does, but it’s much more difficult to be dimensionally precise. I tend to bring the dimensional elements into Maya from Rhino, and then I do my Maya modeling around the Rhino geometry to get accurate dimensions. I then export the Maya model and bring it into Rhino as a mesh, which I can either rebuild using multiple NURBS surfaces or just leave as a mesh.

The newer versions Maya do a slightly better job at converting between polygons and NURBS, but I generally find Maya’s NURBS functionality to be close to useless. For the most part I’d rather keep it a mesh or model my own surfaces by drawing contours and lofting or sweeping or some of Rhino’s other surface tools.

I also just finished a project where all of the modeling was done in Rhino, and then brought into Maya to render with Mentalray. Rhino5’s texture mapping has gotten way better, but Maya still has some advantages in rendering. I haven’t used 3DS, but I understand that Mentalray has slightly different options between the two.

Maya also has a pretty substantial physics engine. There are now a number of plug-ins for rhino that can do form-finding simulations, but Maya has the ability to simulate draped cloths and particle simulations that are pretty advanced, and potentially a little bit easier than setting up a Kangaroo Grasshopper definition, but that really depends on where your comfortable.

I would also agree that Rhino is way more intuitive for a designer than Maya. Maya is one of the least intuitive programs I’ve used. I mean, why is E rotate and R scale?

Sorry for the long post, but that’s what I’ve found in working between the two programs. It’s definitely not a seamless transition, but I think that both programs have strengths. You just have to know what you’re trying to accomplish and which program is right for the job.

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Sounds like the more familiar one becomes with each, the more the “hammer” looks different from the “screwdriver”.

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Hi jacob, thanks for your reply. Thanks for being open minded and be that person who wants to try to combine several function from different software… I got some very offensive answer everytime i want to discuss smthing like this. But good to know i still can find some people who understand, smtimes one software isnt just enough…
Back to the topic, I am still playing with maya and yes, the cool thing about maya is that i can get “general” NURBS tool in rhino and easily convert it to polygon for sculpting purposes, however it does lacking some precised surface tool that rhino has. Also, MAYA polygon tool is no better than 3dsmax polygon tool. Graphite tool in 3ds (polygon, freeform, and object paint) by far is the ultimate poly modeler… But i heard MAYA 2016 will try to inherit 3ds awesome stuff.
I tried MAYA particle simulation, BiFrost, etc, it is incredibly awesome. 3ds simulation is also awesome, though i never explore much in that particular stuff.

My workflow so far is always Rhino + 3ds,but over years i always hv trouble trying to incorporate those 2. 3ds is very clumsy at handling NURBS. i need NURBS precision in Rhino and grasshopper awesome generative modelling to do panelling or analysis stuff. On the other hand, i cant seem to leave 3ds graphite tool. Its too awesome. :frowning: At the end i always bring it to mesh, for further form finding in 3ds, rendering and simple animation, but then when it comes to construction drawing, i have to send it back to rhino and rebuild the model entirely in NURBS so it can be passed down to CAD drawing. (Structure engineer apperently loves CAD or revit file other than anything else).

Do u think by having MAYA i can cut the process down so i can work on more efficient way? So, a combo of Rhino+Maya perhaps will be the best workflow since both hav NURBS integrity.

I still havent got answer for combo scripting in Grasshopper and MAYA, would love to know that, ill just wait for some more comments on this topic

Cheers :slight_smile:

i think they just like to be able to get an accurate measurement from any point on an object

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I have friends who work at Zaha, Unstudio, MAD.
Everyone there uses MAYA…some of the stuff you model in maya cannot be efficiently done in rhino unless you use t-splines rhino plugin. NURBS modeling is just too limiting.

Once model is done in MAYA…it’ is dumped back into rhino to be rationalized. That’s the general workflow.

Thanks for starting a very informative thread Runnie!

Are there any migration guides out there for Maya users to transition to Rhino?** In particular I’m wondering if there is some sort of quickstart guide to tweaking navigation to be more Maya-like (it’s hard to overcome my Maya muscle memory!)

I’ve worked in the animation industry for many years so Maya is my default 3D program. I’m now in grad school studying industrial design and architecture and I’m learning Rhino to better collaborate with my class mates. So far I love Rhino (particularly Grasshopper)!

Any thoughts appreciated,

Thanks John,
I would recommend to =

  1. Change Rhino MMB to pop up window, customize and arrange some tools to ur need so it works similar to Maya’s Hotbox.

  2. if you are using wacom for maya, it is better to leave it and use mouse in rhino. wacom can perform well in maya because some shortcut to modify objects are based on hand stroke. while rhino is key-shortcuts and aliases.

  3. work with Gumball. obviously it is the manipulator u have been using in Maya. except, no gesture shortcuts.

  4. Deformers in Maya are pretty much available in Rhino.

  5. get Kangaroo add on for GH to perform similar to Maya’s Nucleus. (nCloth, nParcicle) it is exacly the same concept.

  6. The concept to “describe your model with the least amount of Polygon possible” in Maya is applicable in NURBS modelling. except that u now have U-V isoparm and control points.

  7. tweaking maya vertex when in smooth mode is the same as tweaking control points in Rhino G2 Surface.

  8. put shortcut “zoom-selected” in rhino to “F” key so it will behave similar to Maya’s F=Focus

that’s it I think.


Hi Jacob, sorry if I see your post only now. Your explanation is the first I read which is explaining questions I have been having for quite some time. Do you have any example to share about your work, where you applied this workflow? Many thanks.

Hi Runnie,

have been reading this thread, asking myself whether i should learn maya… (architecture/design)
you have been using it for some time by now i guess? Would like to know how you incorporate it into your workflow with rhino… after a few days with maya i must say it is a deep but not intuitive piece of software…

Maya is very good animator but bad NURBS modeller.

For architecture stick to Rhino x Sketchup x 3dsmax x bim modellers. There’s nothing else out there worth using.

@Jonish … have you been using maya?

We use maya only for form finding and design process.

Mainly because our architecture projects involves alot in organic shapes and lots of curves. Which is why we chose this software as a form finding solution.

However after we are done with the initial design (mostly after renderings) we would rebuild the whole model entirely in Revit / Rhino for construction drawings.

Which means alot of converting Polys into Nurbs. (Which is easy if u create the right topology in polys)

In maya we dont bother with precision. The fact that they hv lots of animation tools helps with free forming our ideas. Maya animation tools actually can be used for modelling if it used correctly. (Say a blend shapes tool can be used for parametric panels). Which use brushstroke to control how the panels change in shapes.

That is just our workflow, we believe every office has different workflow with different software use.

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