Alias and Maya for IDT.

Hello again guys and gals, I have a quick question for those more experienced than I in the field. The current school I go to may be changing their program up a bit. One of them is one of the programs they teach. Alias. The interim head of the program, who is a graphic designer, says that Maya and Alias are nearly identical; and that in the Maya class they focus very heavily on modeling.

Now, from what I’ve gathered by talking to the Ex head and reading around, Maya is meant for animation, and not as much Industrial Design. While Alias is its design counterpart. So my question is, would being taught Maya over Alias be the right move? Or even that useful?


Maya is great if as a ID person you want to get into gaming or animation - it can also be great for quick concept form exploration - and you can output to 3d printers.

but if you are doing part detailing it is not the right tool, if you want to hand off manufacturer surface it is not the right tool

in my opinion your school should be looking to teach you Surface creation and form development blended with Solid modeling - (that is the end game) next would be to determine what are the industry standards

surface - Rhino / Alias / SW / Pro E…

Solid Modeling - SW / Pro E / Catia

from what i have seen and taught, a good foundation is Rhino or Alias with SW - now if i had my choice (based off teach CAD for 6 years)i would teach only SW as you can learn surfacing and solid modeling becoming proficient in 1 package with the ability to transfer that modeling skill to any of the other packages.

The tool in my mind is a secondary skill set while the primary is understanding good surface and form creation with being able to utilize solid modeling techniques.

Would be happy to talk with your program and provide further insight if you want.

Maya was derived from what was once Alias “Power Animator” before it became “Design Studio”. At the core they shared many of the same tools.

Over time Maya evolved into a world class animation tool, and Alias was left to focus on the small niche markets like transportation design where it was unmatched in capability and could still be sold for $70k a seat. (Whereas Maya is now a few grand).

I first touched Alias before it split, so to me they’re both sort of natural evolutions of the same product. Much of the workflow can be very similar but for hardcore product design Alias is the more valuable tool.

If your professor comes from the graphics realm, the short answer to this is they probably do not know much about Alias, other than it’s origins or that some of the tools are the same. Construction settings are a thing that don’t exist when you’re trying to make pictures and units and measurement are all mostly irrelevant in the CGI world. If they are very comfortable with Maya and not Alias, then it makes sense that is what they want to teach.

You probably will not convince them to teach you Alias instead.

The good news is that learning Maya and NURBS will introduce you to much of the basic skills needed, all of NURBS tools in Maya map easily over to Alias, and if you also are able to learn the Sub Division and rendering tools you will have a great asset in your portfolio for creating sharp renderings.

There are also plenty of industrial design areas where Maya is far MORE relevant a tool than Alias. For example exhibit design, softgood design, or super complex forms that can be generated by sub-division surfaces in minutes but would take days or would be impossible to build with NURBS.

I would just go ahead and learn it and once you are done go ahead and try to add Alias to your portfolio in the subsequent year. Then the following year add a solid tool like Solidworks on top.

The real value is to put some great looking work in your portfolio and understand the value of form, regardless of what tool you use to get there.

Thank you chevisw. The ex head is currently teaching us SW.

And thank you as well Cyberdemon, this brings a bit of comfort to me, if they decide to teach us Maya instead. Even though it may just be the graphics class instead. I’m always looking to add more to my portfolio and skill set. If I can learn Maya and bring that over to Alias, I and the other students should be ok.