How to Choose a Maya Animation Course (2022)

by | Last updated Apr 26, 2022

Should you sign up for a Maya animation course? 

Autodesk Maya is a software program used for 3D animation, modeling, simulation, rendering, and rigging in films, TV series, gaming, advertising, and so much more. 

Because Maya supports virtually all parts of the animation workflow, it is an industry-standard. Learning how to use Maya will give you an advantage over other candidates because hiring managers are always on the lookout for artists who are well-versed in software programs often used by top studios. 

This is the reason why signing up for a Maya animation course should be one of the first things you need to do if you want to build a successful career as an animator. 

Let’s get to know Maya!

What is Maya?

Autodesk Maya is a 3D animation software that enables artists to create realistic, detailed animations for video games, 3D applications, animated films, TV series, and any visual effects. As the leading animation software in the business, Maya is used by top studios like Disney, Pixar, Framestore, Sony Pictures Animation, and Moving Picture Company, just to name a few.

Since launching in 1997, Maya has been used in virtually every film that has won the Academy Award for Best Visual effects. The software also won three Oscars for technical achievement. That’s not surprising given how versatile it is. 

In filmmaking, Maya is used for animation and visual effects. It lets you create 3D assets that you can animate – we’re talking about entire worlds and realistic visual effects, objects, and characters!

Some of the biggest blockbusters were made using Maya, such as iconic movies like Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Pacific Rim, Transformers, The Hobbit, and so many more. Marvel movies and many Disney animated films also rely on Maya for eye-popping visuals. 

In many ways, Maya is the bedrock all other software tools and programs are based on. When learning Maya, you’re not just learning to use a software program but creating 3D animation as a whole. Even if you’re using a different animation program, a solid understanding of Maya lets you pick up other software programs quickly. 

How do you learn to use Maya?

You can learn Maya by enrolling in a traditional art school and earning a degree, or you can sign up for a Maya animation course online.

College course: Going to art school and earning a degree is the most traditional way of learning Maya. Many studios look for artists with a background in the arts, although this is not always a requirement. 

That said, going to art school can be pretty expensive. Also, it isn’t the most flexible option if you’re trying to save money, time, or in-between jobs. Not many schools offer specialized courses, and it will take about 4 years to finish college. But if you’re curious to see the best 3D animation schools, check out our guide here

Online course: With more people preferring to stay at home, learning has evolved too. These days, taking an online course has become the norm and many studios accept artists who’ve honed their skills this way. The best thing about taking an online course is that you can hone your skills without spending a fortune. You can learn at your own pace, have full control of your time, and complete multiple online courses in a short time. 

Virtually all art schools, online and offline, offer online courses, so you are spoiled with options. Here at the Academy of Animated Art, our goal is to help artists get their dream job of becoming a lighting artist and work at a top studio in a year or less. Check out our complete list of animation courses here

How to choose the best Maya animation course 

What are the factors that you should consider when looking for a Maya animation course? Here are some tips:

Feature-focused: It’s easy to get lost in Maya if you don’t know what features to use. Maya is comprehensive, and it’s confusing to the uninitiated. So when choosing an online course, look for a program that focuses on the features you’ll use in real life, not necessarily on passive learning. You have to learn the software enough to apply all the techniques straight away. 

Demos for real-life use: The best technical courses to choose from are those that educate through demonstrations. There’s only so far you can go by reading a step-by-step guide or watching a how-to video. If you want to master the software, you need to start learning the actual process of animation using Maya. Go for an online course that gives you a taste of the real-world setting. 

Success rate:  When trying to build a career or switching careers in animation, you want an online course that will make you as market-ready as possible and that provides proven results. Check what percentage of the school’s students found jobs in a relevant field after taking the course or testimonials that express how the course changed their careers for the better. If the course enables students to land jobs, that’s a sign that it’s an effective online course. 

Value for money: Not to say that the price of the course should be the only deciding factor between traditional learning and online learning, but the best online course is one that provides value for your money. It should be effective without costing you your life savings. Thankfully, most online courses are reasonably priced, although some are more expensive than others. Apart from providing demonstrations for real-life use, a high success rate, + mentorship programs, the Academy of Animated Art school has a growing community of artists who will guide you throughout your journey, help improve the quality of your work and connect you to the right people. 

The 5 best Maya courses for 2022

Maya is one of the essential tools in animation, and your career will benefit greatly by learning it. If you want to impress hiring managers and get the edge you need to outperform the competition, you have to sign up for a Maya animation course and master the software. Here are our recommendations:

Intro to Maya by The Academy of Animated Art

Level: Beginner 

intro to Maya animation course

Here at the Academy of Animated Art, we offer a variety of technical workshops that will help you get the best start in the animation industry, one of which includes our Intro to Maya online course. Our Intro to Maya animation course is a comprehensive 9-part workshop that covers all the features and tools you need to make the most out of the software: 

  • Introduction
  • Maya Basics
  • Polygonal Modeling
  • Working With Curves
  • Lighting, Shading, & Rendering
  • Animation
  • Bonus Section
  • The Big Project
  • Conclusion

Maya supports every aspect of a 3D pipeline. If you know how to wield its power, you can build entire worlds, characters, objects, and environments to animate, as well as apply cool effects like fur, cloth, and simulations that will add realism to your animations. We can teach you all that and more! All of our online courses, including our Maya animation course, are designed to complement each other. 

Maya 2020 Essential Training by George Maestri

Level: Beginner 

Maya 2020 Essential Training

A beginner-friendly online course on Maya, the workshop is conducted by prolific animation director and producer, George Maestri. In this online course, you’ll learn the core features of Maya – modeling, texturing, rendering, and animation. You’ll learn the basics of Maya, such as choosing and manipulating objects, creating different scenes, and customizing the Maya interface. George Maestri will also teach you how to apply movements to characters using key Maya tools.

The tutorials are based on the real-world, project-based workflow, so you’ll get a feel of what it’s like to work in a studio as an animator. Sign up for the Maya 2020 Essential Training course here

Maya for Beginners: Complete 3D Animation Masterclass by uDemy

Skill level: Beginner

Maya for Beginners - Complete 3D Animation Masterclass

A comprehensive masterclass that teaches you to animate with keyframes using Maya. The workshop outlines all the essential Maya tools before diving deep into the software’s core features. There are many exercises that you can complete at your own pace, including learning industry game standard animations, creating standard animations for demo reels, and editing motion data. Sign up for the Maya for Beginners: Complete 3D Animation Masterclass by uDemy here

Animate a Professional Looking Jump in Maya by Skillshare

Skill level: Beginner

Animate a Professional Looking Jump

Learn efficient 3D animation workflow by creating a professionally-made, polished character jump in Maya. Ideal for beginner animators, this online course teaches the workflow basics, providing techniques that lead to high-quality, realistic animated characters. By signing up for the course, you’ll learn to control your human characters in more articulate body mechanics shots. Sign up for the Animate a Professional Looking Jump in Maya here.

UV Mapping Game Characters in Maya By PluralSight

Skill level: Intermediate

UV Mapping Game Characters in Maya

Learn how to give characters a visual appeal using UV layouts on Maya. In this online course, you will learn all about UV mapping characters in Maya. It starts from the initial process of creating UVs for a multi-material character, adding hair, body, and clothing, and then overlapping UVs and texel density to breathe life into a character. Conducted by Eddie Russell, a content producer for Unity and a seasoned shading, texturing, lighting, and rendering artist, the program is ideal for artists with intermediate technical skills and requires Maya 2018 software. Sign up for the UV Mapping Game Characters in Maya here

BONUS: Lighting for Animation Course Bundle by the Academy of Animated Art

Skill level: Beginner to Intermediate

Lighting bundle

Want to learn even more about The Ultimate Lighting Bundle + is the best lighting course that our school offers. For as little as $199, you can start training as a lighting artist for animated films by top studios and change your career for the better. All within a year or less, even without any background in animation. 

At the heart of the Ultimate Lighting Bundle course is a proven system that will hone your artistic and technical skills, transforming you from a newbie to a Master artist. This system has trained hundreds of students to get their dream job as light artists and succeed in an otherwise competitive industry. 

The Ultimate Lighting Bundle course comes complete with a 7-course bundle along with FREE student license 3D software programs, high-quality assets to practice on and add to your demo reels, as well as a membership to our online community. On top of all that, you will also get instant access to our technical workshops, which include the Intro to Maya animation course.


Course #1: The Power Of Light
Course #2: Character Lighting For Animated Films
Course #3: Environment Lighting For Animated Films
Course #4: Materials & Shaders For The Lighting Artist
Course #5: Compositing For The Lighting Artist
Course #6: Lighting An Animated Film
Course #7: Succeeding As A Lighter

3D Software Programs

Maya: Free Student License
Arnold: Free Student License
RedShift: Free download version
Octane: Free download version
Unreal Engine: Free Student License
Katana: Free 90-day trial keys + discounted educational license

Free Access to AAA Technical Courses

A 6-course bundle that’ll help you master all the industry-standard software programs used by top studios. The course will give you the confidence to learn essential tools and techniques used by master lighting artists to elevate your work. Taught from the point of view of an artist, the technical course bundle provides a toolbelt of resources when working on ANY project.

Intro to Maya: Conducted by Mike Tanzillo, Co-founder, Academy of Animated Art & Senior Lighting Artist
Redshift workshop: Conducted by Shane Sternstein, Lighting Artist, Dreamworks Animation
Octane workshop: Conducted by Matt Wilson, Lead Lighting Artist, Blue Sky Studios
Arnold for Maya workshop: ConductedMike Tanzillo, Co-founder, Academy of Animated Art & Senior Lighting Artist
KATANA workshop: Conducted by Abel Vargas, Lighting Artist and Katana Software Pioneer
Introduction to the UnReal Engine workshop: Conducted by Jordan Jenkins, Lighting Artist

The bundle makes a terrific alternative to our Intro to Maya workshop, and it’s one of the most comprehensive 3D lighting and animation course you’ll find online. If you want to get your dream job as a lighting artist in less than a year, even if you don’t have any lighting experience at all, we highly suggest getting this one. Learn more about our Lighting For Animation Course Bundle + here.

Over to you!

So many places to sign up for a Maya animation course; which one is the best for you? It really depends on your preference, budget, and the time you have to attend the workshop. You can take a course at a physical school, but this option is more time-intensive and expensive. If you’re on the budget or you are in between jobs, we suggest signing for an online course. You can work on your technical skills and train your creative eye at your own pace, in the privacy of your own home. We hope that the above tips will help you make the right decision!

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