Maya Rendering: Features, Benefits, Pricing and More

by Render Pool

April 29, 2023

One of the most powerful features of Autodesk’s Maya is its rendering capabilities. Maya includes its own rendering engine, Maya Vector Renderer, and offers a range of rendering options, including Interactive Photorealistic Rendering, Arnold, and other third-party plugins. These tools, along with comprehensive 3D animation, modeling, and simulation capabilities, allow users to create stunning photorealistic images and animations with lifelike lighting, textures, and visual effects. Keep reading to discover more about Maya’s rendering capabilities and how they make it a top choice for professional-level rendering in the entertainment industry.

What Are Maya’s Main Features?

Rendering Engines

Maya not only includes its own rendering engine called Maya Vector Renderer, but also Interactive Photorealistic Rendering (IPR) as one of its other engine options. Users can also download rendering plugins for Maya such as Arnold, a rendering engine supported by Maya software, and free if downloaded from Autodesk’s website.

Maya Vector Renderer uses vector-based rendering technology to produce high-quality 2D vector graphics. It’s a fast and efficient rendering engine that produces clean, accurate line art, making it ideal for technical illustrations, animation storyboards, and motion graphics.

IPR is a real-time rendering engine that allows users to see scene changes in real time. It’s ideal for those who require fast feedback while working on projects. It’s also good for making minor adjustments to lighting, materials, and textures.

The third-party rendering engine Arnold is a physically-based rendering engine that is widely used in the entertainment industry to create photorealistic images and animations. It uses advanced algorithms to simulate the behavior of light in a scene, resulting in realistic lighting and shadow effects.

Graph and Scene Editor

Maya allows users to create, modify, and edit graphics with different rendering methods (batch and sequence rendering), rendering single and multiple scenes, setting up lighting, texture, cameras, and other visual effects in an interactive way. Additionally, users can manipulate frames and image resolution and render regions with IPR and other processors.

NURBS Modeling

Maya allows the creation of models from primitive geometries and surfaces following mathematical correlations. Non-Uniform Rational B-Spline (NURBS) modeling aids users in smoothing surfaces and editing object parameters in different stages of the design process. This tool allows for the creation of complex models with high accuracy and precision, while including all the visual tools the software provides.

3D Modeling

Maya provides tools for 3D modeling, allowing users to create polygons and geometries and manipulate edges, vertices, and faces. 3D modeling in the software is intuitive and provides freedom to design with simple commands for component creation and manipulation such as extruding, rotating, combining, and mirroring tools.

Sculpting Tools

Sculpting simulates the process of creating a real-life object with clay or ceramic material. In this case, these materials are replaced by polygons that shape a digital model. The software allows the subdivision of polygons so the user can shape the object by stroking, stamping, rotating, and scaling until the desired model is obtained.


Character setup and sophisticated cartoon animation are one of Maya’s characteristic tools. The Rigging tool allows the creation of skeletons and the manipulation of joints and articulations to provide characters with lifelike movement and control of animation points. This tool is essential for 3D character creations and simulates the process of manipulating a puppet with digital strings (rigs in this case).

Pipeline Setting

Pipelines are used to organize sequences, scenes, and files within the Maya software. Well-structured pipelines allow users to manage data, share projects with collaborators, and organize workflows effectively. The software provides Pipeline Assets such as Scene Assembly to organize sequences by hierarchy and establish rendering nodes to render animations in a structured way.

Extensions and Plugins

Maya is compatible with multiple plugins to improve certain characteristics or enhance specific visuals through external tools. Online plugins that are compatible with Maya can be used to aid users in crowd simulations, create realistic hair textures, generate dynamic effects for sci-fi purposes, manipulate lighting controls, and create animated characters, among many other possibilities.

Bifrost Simulation

Bifrost is a unique simulation tool, available for free for Maya users. This tool allows the creation of high-quality liquid and fluid effects using the Fluid Implicit Particle (FLIP) feature. Bifrost provides a photo-realistic solution to simulate intricate scenes such as falling underwater, gravity alterations, collisions, creating moving flows and splashes, jetting and propulsion effects, simulating combustion, and so on. It’s an innovative tool that modern animation companies rely on to produce professional-level renders and sequences.

Benefits of Using Autodesk Maya

Industry-oriented Solutions

All Maya tools are suitable for the entertainment and gaming industries, providing complete 3D packages and powerful simulation and rendering tools. This software is preferred by cartoon animation companies with collaborators such as Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios.

Faster Iterations

Default workflows included in Maya are easy to build, and its node-based structure allows the reduction of iteration time and helps to better organize projects, and manage scenes. Maya manages to save rendering time with its own rendering engines and through its responsive tools.

High-quality 3D Modeling Tools

The software provides multiple 3D modeling tools such as geometry conversion, high-quality sculpting and rigging tools, stunning rendering outcomes, organic modeling, and intuitive animation, making it a complete and powerful tool for animation studios.

Compatibility with Other Software and Plugins

Maya offers multiple plugins and extensions to enhance its rendering tools, some of which are even available for free through the Autodesk portal. The software is also compatible with other software such as 3ds Max and Blender, allowing for more collaborative work options.

Maya System Minimum Requirements

Operating System Windows 10
MacOS (10.13.x to 11.x)
RAM 8 GB (16 GB recommended)
Processor 64-bit multicore processor

Autodesk Maya Cost

Autodesk offers multiple licensing options for Maya users, ranging from monthly subscriptions to a flexible token system. The software can be licensed for commercial, student, or educational purposes, with varying prices and terms depending on the user’s needs. Check Autodesk’s website for the most up-to-date pricing.

License Type Duration Price
Monthly 1 month $235
Annual 1 year $1,875
Triennial 3 years $5,625
100 Tokens 6 tokens a day (good for 16 days over 1 year) $300
500 Tokens 6 tokens a day (good for 83 days over 1 year) $1,500

Autodesk Maya FAQ

What are the differences between Autodesk’s Maya and 3ds Max?

Autodesk developed two rendering software (Maya and 3ds Max) with animation, modeling, and visual effects tools to provide professional-level solutions for creative studios.

Although both programs are similar, Maya focuses on creating lifelike animated characters and highly realistic and complex simulations. 3ds Max provides a stronger and more flexible modeling toolset, including high-quality renderings, intuitive controls, textures, and powerful lighting tools.

On a general basis, Maya software is more appropriate for modeling and animating characters, while 3ds Max is more appropriate for rendering environments and complex scenery involving multiple textures, shades, and lighting details.

Can Maya use external rendering engines?

Maya is compatible with external rendering engines as plugins or extensions of the software. Some of the commercial rendering engines directly compatible with Maya are OctaneRender (GPU-based), RenderMan (photorealistic rendering), Maxwell Render (ray tracing) FurryBall RT (real-time GPU rendering), and Render Pool (cloud-based GPU/CPU rendering).