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Exploring 3D Animation: 8 Best Autodesk Maya Courses for 2024

A deep dive into Maya’s world: Elevate your skills from elementary modeling and texturing to sophisticated visual effects with the best courses of the year.

Maya is a powerful software for animation, video games, and film. It can be hard to learn, but there are many free resources available to help you get started. The r/Maya subreddit is a great place to ask questions and learn from other users. The Maya Official Learning YouTube Channel and the Intro course to Maya by Autodesk also provide good tutorials.

If you want more structured learning, there are many great courses available online. Class Central has a catalog of over 100 Maya courses, and we’ve compiled a list of the best ones here. We’ve also included courses from popular providers like Udemy, Skillshare, and Domestika. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced user, you’ll find a course here that’s right for you.

All of the courses in our list are taught by experienced industry professionals, so you can be sure you’re getting high-quality instruction. They also focus on practical, hands-on learning, so you’ll be able to apply what you learn right away.

Click on the shortcuts for more details:

Our Top Picks

Course Highlight Workload
Best Overall: Complete Guide to 3D Animation in Maya for Beginners (Udemy & Skillshare) 26-27 hours
Also Great: 3D Modeling & Character Animation with Maya for High Schoolers (Udemy) 12-13 hours
Best Character Creation Maya Course for Beginners (Udemy & Skillshare) 28 hours
Also Great: Character Animation and Expression with Maya (Domestika) 4 hours
Best Realistic Scene Creation Course (Udemy) 18-19 hours
Free Alternative: Modeling and Texturing Interior Office in Maya (Udemy) 2-3 hours
Project-based Course: Maya for FX Artists (Udemy) 9 hours
Python For Maya: Artist Friendly Programming (Udemy) 8 hours

Best Overall: Complete Guide to 3D Animation in Maya for Beginners (Udemy & Skillshare)

Maya for Beginners: Complete Guide to 3D Animation in Maya is an in-depth course that equips you with everything you need to launch your 3D animation projects, demonstrated through an engaging Dia de Los Muertos-inspired scene featuring a fully animated skeleton.

Led by professional 3D animator Lucas Ridley—known for his contributions to Hollywood films such as Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One—this course is designed to leave you confident in your abilities and ready to animate an entire project from scratch. Lucas’s teaching reputation extends to both Udemy and Skillshare.

This course is also available on Skillshare separated by categories: 3D Modeling, Texturing, Rigging, Animation, and Dynamic FX.

This course packs in loads of skills: modeling objects and scenes, object shading, creating UVs, texturing, lighting, shadow crafting, rendering, character rigging, keyframe animating, using the motion graphics animation (MASH) toolkit, and simulating dynamic effects. You’ll cap it off by assembling a full scene. Plus, you’ll get bonus animation demos, downloadable project files, and on-hand support.

One Udemy learner, Simone I., praises the course, saying, “If you want to get into 3D, get this course. The teacher is great, he explains everything thoroughly… the projects are chosen perfectly to gain the basic knowledge needed to get through every successive lesson of the course, and almost without noticing, you find yourself having a lot of knowledge and eager to apply it.”

Provider Udemy
Instructor Lucas Ridley
Level Beginner
Workload 26-27 hours
Enrollments 35,009 students
Rating 4.6 (7,003 ratings)
Certificate Available

Also Great: 3D Modeling & Character Animation with Maya for High Schoolers (Udemy)

Build your own 3D worlds, creatures, and characters. The course, 3D Modeling & Character Animation with Maya, is designed specifically for high school students and beyond. It’s a comprehensive guide to Maya’s vast capabilities, covering polygonal modeling, texturing, rigging, animation, lighting, and rendering, including character and creature design.

The course is led by Ben Taylor, an experienced educator from Meridian Technical Charter High School. Taylor’s teachings are project-based, meaning you’ll be getting your hands dirty with practical tasks involving characters such as Evil Kermit, Stinkfly, Froggy, Big Chungus, and Shrek.

In Taylor’s own words, “If high school freshmen can learn to design, code, and animate, then so can you!” So, why not give it a try?

Provider Udemy
Instructor Ben Taylor
Level Beginner
Workload 12-13 hours
Enrollments 10,171 students
Rating 4.6 (447 ratings)
Certificate Available

Best Character Creation Maya Course for Beginners (Udemy & Skillshare)

Want to create your own characters in Maya? Check out the Complete Character Creation in Maya for Beginners course. By the end, you’ll be able to model, texture, rig, animate, simulate cloth and hair, and render cartoon characters using Maya and Substance Painter. Although starting from the basics, it’s a bit more advanced for absolute beginners. This course is also available on Skillshare.

Your guide is Nalini Kanta Jena, an experienced game artist and teacher. He’ll lead you through Maya basics, modeling, unwrapping UVs, using Substance Painter, texturing, rigging, animating, and rendering your animation with Arnold.

Orlando O., a Udemy learner, says it’s a “great course, especially if you’re a beginner… The instructor does a great job of explaining everything in an easy-to-follow way.”

From the same instructor, if you are keen on learning realistic character modeling, we recommend the course Realistic Character Modeling For Game In Maya and Zbrush. And if you’re just dipping your toes into 3D modeling, try the free 3-hour tutorial Learn Maya – Character Head Modeling for Beginners, covering basic blocking, topology for animation, refining face features, modeling tools, and Maya hair.

Provider Udemy
Instructor Nalini Kanta Jena
Level Beginner
Workload 28 hours
Enrollments 1,447 students
Rating 4.8 (263 ratings)
Certificate Available

Also Great: Character Animation and Expression with Maya (Domestika)

Step into the animated universe with Sagar Arun’s Character Animation and Expression with Maya. A renowned animator behind titles like Frozen 2 (2019) and Spirit: Untamed (2021), Sagar invites you to learn the crucial principles of animation and infuse personality into your characters.

In Sagar’s words, “If you’ve ever seen an animation that made you laugh or feel a certain emotion, that means the animator is doing their job really well.”

In this engaging course, Sagar shares the essential animation techniques and application tips using Maya. You’ll learn how to design and express a character’s emotions vividly, bringing them to life.

With 19 lessons and 13 downloads, you’ll wrap up the course with a creative project: creating an expression test with a character rig using Autodesk Maya’s animation tools. To get the most out of this course, you’ll need a computer with Maya installed with the aTools plugin (up to Maya 2019) or the animBot (paid) plugin (for newer versions), and a character rig.

Provider Domestika
Instructor Sagar Arun
Level Intermediate
Workload 4 hours
Enrollments 1,303 students
Rating 95% positive (37 ratings)
Certificate Available

Best Realistic Scene Creation Course (Udemy)

If your goal is to learn the ins and outs of 3D modeling, UV unwrapping, texturing, lighting, and rendering for scenes and objects, then Learn Maya – A Beginners Guide to Creating Realistic Scenes is an excellent choice. This course is expertly led by Bhaumik Patel, a seasoned visual effects artist and highly rated instructor with 16 years of computer graphics experience, including four years teaching at Escape Studios.

Patel’s course offers two comprehensive projects:

  1. The Toy Train Project: An ideal starting point for beginners, this project guides you to create and animate a toy train model. You’ll work hands-on with Maya’s various editors and learn the basics of object creation and manipulation.
  2. The Wizard Desktop Project: Perfect for those ready to delve deeper. Using Maya 2018, you’ll construct a custom desktop scene. This project lets you explore a variety of modeling tools, delve into texturing, experiment with shading techniques to create different materials, and tackle advanced lighting strategies. Additionally, you’ll learn to create atmospheric effects and render a polished, final image. The project is designed to inspire your creativity, offering plenty of freedom in scene composition, lighting, and overall design.
Provider Udemy
Instructor Bhaumik Patel
Level Beginner
Workload 18-19 hours
Enrollments 9,708 students
Rating 4.5 (1,473 ratings)
Certificate Available

Free Alternative: Modeling and Texturing Interior Office in Maya (Udemy)

Stretched budget? We’ve got you. Check out Modeling and Texturing Interior Office in Maya, a free Autodesk Maya course that will elevate your skills from basic to intermediate. With Andrew Rees at the helm, an instructor with over a decade of experience in teaching and animation film production, you’re in good hands.

In this hands-on course, you’ll build an office interior from the ground up, learning to create a variety of furniture pieces such as two types of chairs and tables, curtains, and other items. You won’t just be modeling these items; you’ll also texture them to mimic realistic surfaces, and set up simple lighting to produce a final, ready-for-showcase render.

In just a few hours, you’ll master polygon modeling (with an emphasis on furniture), grasp the ins and outs of texturing in Maya for diverse surface types, and get the hang of simple lighting techniques for a fully-lit interior scene. By the end, you’ll have the skills to construct various inorganic polygon models, create an entire office interior, understand the process of texturing and apply it to all your models, and render a polished, final image of your designed interior.

Ana Graciela V., a Udemy learner, can vouch for this course’s quality, describing it as an “amazing course to learn the basics of Maya! I gained a lot of confidence with the course and found it very helpful!” So, even if you’re a Maya beginner, this course comes highly recommended.

Provider Udemy
Instructor Andrew Rees
Level Beginner
Workload 2-3 hours
Enrollments 10,822 students
Rating 4.6 (175 ratings)
Certificate None

Project-based Course: Maya for FX Artists (Udemy)

Maya For FX Artists – Projects Based Course is a comprehensive project-based course designed for FX artists. Perfect for beginners, this course doesn’t require any previous knowledge. Instead, it focuses on teaching through a series of short, high-quality projects, offering a more engaging and practical approach to learning. Each project introduces a specific feature of Maya and gives you the chance to apply it in a real-world context.

The course is spearheaded by Raffi Bedross, an experienced VFX artist and instructor with 18 years of industry experience. Under Bedross’s guidance, you’ll explore the basics of 3D modeling and learn how to manipulate 2D and 3D containers. From there, you’ll venture into more advanced territory, experimenting with nParticles, expressions, and various Maya fields. The projects range from creating simple effects like rain and dust to more complex simulations such as a helicopter landing dust effect, torch fire, wheel burnout, and water effects. You’ll even get a chance to simulate cloth on an animated character and model a landscape using xGen.

According to Denis L., a satisfied Udemy learner, “The instructor is very knowledgeable on the topic and takes you step by step to achieve the results in each section… I was thinking that these effects can only be done in Houdini but Maya too is a very robust software to do these effects.”

Provider Udemy
Instructor Raffi Bedross
Level Intermediate
Workload 9 hours
Enrollments 3,761 students
Rating 4.4 (542 ratings)
Certificate Available

Python For Maya: Artist Friendly Programming (Udemy)

Take your Maya skills to the next level with Python, the leading language for scripting and automation in 3D software. This course, led by Dhruv Govil, a Lead Pipeline Developer with credits on blockbuster visual effects films and animated features, is your step-by-step guide to harnessing the power of Python in Maya.

Starting with the fundamentals of Python code, the course escalates to the creation of advanced user interfaces synonymous with professional-grade work. Along the way, you’ll acquire valuable skills to automate repetitive tasks, freeing up your time to concentrate on the work you’re truly passionate about. This proficiency will not only make your work life easier but also elevate your market value and job prospects.

The course is versatile, catering to both Python newcomers and those with prior knowledge. Projects are divided by difficulty, with a focus on modeling, animating, rigging, or lighting to match your interests. You’ll dive into Python’s essential elements, advanced concepts, and how to write user interfaces with Maya Cmds and Qt. Other highlights include writing data to disk, creating command line tools, and setting up a professional workflow. A deep-dive into the Qt interface framework is also on the agenda, tackling custom widgets, signals and slots, stylesheets, and more.

As a bonus, the course includes access to a wealth of resources, including software links, source code for projects, and supplementary educational resources.

One satisfied student, Jax Vanden H., praised the course as “absolutely great,” adding, “For those who have familiarity with both [Python and Maya], it’s a great course to get you started on bridging the two together.”

Provider Udemy
Instructor Dhruv Govil
Level Intermediate
Workload 8 hours
Enrollments 8,516 students
Rating 4.7 (1,623 ratings)
Certificate Available

Why You Should Trust Us

Class Central, a Tripadvisor for online education, has helped 60 million learners find their next course. We’ve been combing through online education for more than a decade to aggregate a catalog of over 150,000 online courses and 200,000 reviews written by our users. And we’re online learners ourselves: combined, the Class Central team has completed over 400 online courses, including online degrees.

How We Made Our Picks and Tested Them

Trying to find “the best” can be daunting, even for those of us who live and breathe online courses. Here’s how I approached this task.

First, I combed through Class Central’s Catalog, reddit communities such as r/Maya, and the internet to find a variety of free and paid open courses, some with certificates.

I extracted information from course syllabi and reviews, and compiled their ratings, leveraging the Class Central database with its thousands of course ratings and reviews written by our users as well as available course provider ratings. I watched some course videos to sample courses I hadn’t already taken.

Then, I defined the scope for these recommendations. A Maya course can cover various topics. I chose top courses from a range of sub-fields: 3D Animation fundamentals, 3D Modeling & Character Animation, Character Animation and Expression, Modeling and Texturing Scenes and Objects, Maya for FX Artists, and Python For Maya.

Ultimately, I used a combination of data and my own judgment to make these picks. I’m confident these recommendations will serve as an excellent learning path to become an intermediate Maya 3D animator.

Fabio Dantas Profile Image

Fabio Dantas

Content writer with a degree in chemical engineering. I'm passionate about creative writing, process improvement, productivity, and mindfulness. I aim to empower learners through my articles by providing practical tips, inspiration, and a deeper understanding of learning.

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