Home 3D news Which is better: Blender or 3ds Max?

Which is better: Blender or 3ds Max?

by Robert Smith
Which is better: Blender or 3ds Max?

It really depends on what you need it to do.

Architectural work:

I haven’t done much of this sort of work myself, but as far as I know, Max offers way more useful primitives in this area (like stairs, rails, pipes).

My architect friends tended to make floor plans and rough work in SketchUp and then export to Max for the detail and texture work. After that, they either export to an external rendering engine or go for some quick V-Ray renders.
I have seen some great work and renders in Blender, though.

Box Modeling (for games/object renders)

For basic 3d work, you can model as effectively with any of them, they both have a similar tools and actions, but…

I find that I work way faster in Blender because I use the keyboard more. This is by design. Once you get used to the way keyboard commands work in Blender, clicking on a tool button before applying an action seems pretty stupid. The other 3D modeling software that I’m very fast on is Wings 3D | A Polygon Modeler.

For texturing I’d also go for Blender. Texture mapping is fast and mostly goes very smoothly once you know what you’re doing. You can also paint textures straight on the models.

bonus round:
Sculpting. Blender has very intuitive and power sculpting tools built-in, right on par with anything else on the market. Animation works fine on sculpted models because of the decent weight painting tools, though you have to start with clean topography.

Scene/Level Design

I’d really have to go with Blender here. Grid snapping works great, the layers help for keeping assets out of the way, and using object groups is easy. Particle systems make quick work of distributing assets randomly.

I haven’t really heard of any professional using Max for this, but there might be somebody out there. If you’re working with a decent game engine, you will have and use other tools for this job (Unity, Unreal Engine, etc).

Animation

I’m not a great animator, but I’d guess animation depends a lot on the quality of rigs you have or how fast you can build a decent rig.

You can build a very good bipedal rig in Blender in 5 to 10 hours. There are some pre-made ones, but they’re rather complex (depending on what you need, they might be just perfect or total overkill).

If you’re working with 3ds Max then you’d probably go for a commercial plugin for animation rigs. Working with key-frames and editing them works as expected on both, hey’re equally good in my opinion. Blender’s has more depth, though.

Rendering

I like 3D Max’s rendering engine. V-Ray is very fast with decent results, and pretty much all of the advanced commercial rendering engines come with 3DS Max integration.

Cycles is a pretty awesome rendering engine, and you can get better lighting simulation than using V-Ray. Slower, but produces photo-quality results if you know what you’re doing.
For composing a final image or video Blender can’t really be beaten. The visual compositor with nodes is the best that I’ve ever seen. Audio can also be added straight in Blender. 3ds Max has no such capabilities.

Game Engine

Blender has a built-in game engine, with logic bricks. Which you can visually compose instead of, or in addition to scripting in python. It’s pretty cool for simple things. The Python API is rather inconsistent/buggy for any real-world project, but you can pull of a game demo/concept/prototype in no time – if the gameplay isn’t too complex. The packaged game can be run on Linux, OSX, and Windows.

3ds Max has no such built-in feature but it’s easily the best supported modeling package for any commercial game engine.

The dotted line:

Finally, Blender is open-source, free and under active development. There are a few companies that offer commercial support, and it has a very active community. You will find lots of very good tutorials for most things, to a certain point.
3ds Max costs quite a bit, but there is a free student version, I think. There also used to be a completely free lite version. You’ll also find a lot of free resources and tutorials here too, but be sure to read the documentation that comes with it, first. Yes, read the manual.

Alternatives:

For which are you more likely to get a job

3ds Max is still the industry standard for 3d work. It’s been around for many years and has a whole industry ecosystem of software surrounding it, and the majority of professionals know it inside-out.
You’re more likely to get a job at a bigger company that’s been around for more than a few years.

Though Blender is not really new, because it’s open source and free, it tended to first attract amateurs. The thing is, any 3d professional that has taken the time to really learn Blender or Silo, will recognize that both of them are superior for 3d modeling to 3DS Max.

Smaller and newer studios are more likely to use Blender even if it’s for budget reasons. Since there are less professionals that work with Blender, I’d expect there will be greater demand for them in the future.

Note that animation studios and big game studios have their own tools, so better knowledge of your domain are more valuable than expert knowledge of any 3D package.
Source: Paul Spades

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