42 mighty Maya tutorials to try today

Fire up your copy of Autodesk's 3D animation software and try out one of these high-quality Maya tutorials.

With its advanced tools and high-end plugins, Autodesk Maya is the go-to package for serious 3D animators. The Maya tutorials on this page will help to demystify its core features and improve your skills. Let's have some fun...

01. Beginner's guide to Maya

If you sign up to Digital Tutors with a demo account you can watch select lessons and courses for free, including this beginner's guide to Maya. The helpful video tutorial explains the essential workflows, terms and techniques to help you get started with Maya.

02. 2D sketching in Maya

This short video tutorial will show you exactly how to design a character with Autodesk Maya, starting with the basic 2D sketching using NURBS creation tools.

03. Modelling for beginners

If you're new to modelling in Maya, this 20-minute tutorial is just what you need to help you master the basics. Here you will use basic modelling and subdivision techniques to create a small cartoon house.

Out of this world

04. Make an object glow in Maya

Making objects glow when rendered in Maya isn't a difficult thing to do. In each shader, be it a Lambert or a Blinn, you have a Glow Intensity attribute sitting quietly under the Special Effects tab. In this tutorial, 3D artist Antony Ward takes you beyond the standard options for a glow effect that you can fully control.

 glow effect
Antony Ward explains how to fully control options that create a glow effect

05. Make your own space ship

We love a bit of sci-fi here at Creative Bloq, so we just had to include a few spacey treats. Here, you'll learn how to create a space ship from scratch. The tutorial was created a few versions ago, so don't be surprised if there's any change in tools.

06. How to build a steampunk model in Maya

Patrick Finn shows you how to use hard-surface modelling techniques to create a stylised mechanical bird.

 steampunk bird
Recreate this gorgeous steampunk model with this easy-to-follow tutorial by Patrick Finn

07. Model a rocket with Particle trail in Maya

In this Maya tutorial, you'll discover how to create a moving rocket using NURBS and then animate its movements using path curve. You'll even be able to exert some smoke too!

08. Creating a realistic planet

In this easy-to-follow tutorial, Jack Hulse explains how to make a simple planet that is not rendering intensive.

09. Create an entire space ship fleet

If one space ship just isn't enough for you, have a go at creating an entire fleet with this tutorial. You can even combine your knowledge gained from the rocket tutorial to create smokin' ships.

 space ships
Maya tutorials: Create an entire fleet of space ships

Animation and textures

10. Create a walk cycle in Maya

 walk cycle
Learn the process of creating a realistic walk cycle with this Digital Tutors tutorial

This Digital Tutors video tutorial covers the process of creating a walk cycle in Maya. A subscription is required to access the full training, but you can access the first five lessons, which cover the basics, with a free demo account.

11. Introduction to squash and stretch

Squash and Stretch is one of the most important classical principles of animation. In this tutorial, you'll learn how to build a simple limb-stretching control that fits over a standard IK setup.

12. Bake ambient occlusion into a UV map

Baking out ambient occlusion maps to the UV space is a really great time-saver. The technique is most commonly used in the games industry, but it's applicable in many other areas, too. Here, 3D artist Pat Imrie explains how...

 ambient occlusion
Discover how to save time in your projects by baking ambient occlusion into a UV map

13. How to create a brushed metal material in Maya

Some Maya tutorials are essential to building up your core skills. In this one, Firat Enderoglu shows you how to easily and quickly achieve a realistic metallic finish that you can apply to your 3D models.

14. Gimbal explained in Escape's free Maya tutorial

Escape Studios has released its latest free tutorial in which VFX tutor Lee Danskin covers Gimbal and rotation order, explaining what it is, what causes it, and the issues it has within Maya-authored animations.

15. How to create a CSI-style virus animation

Maya tutorials expert Eric Keller shows you how the free Molecular Maya Toolkit plug-in can help you create dazzling scientific animations like the virus below.

 virus animation
Maya tutorials: learn how to create a CSI-style virus animation.

Character rigging

16. Rigging a muscle system

Create realistic movement for a muscular character by taking advantage of the muscle creation system built into Maya

17. How to create a robot and rig tank tracks

Maya tutorials: learn how to rig a rotating tank track.

In this series of nine videos, Antony Ward creates a cute robot to demonstrate the principles of rigging a rotating track.

18. How to use guide curves to extrude faster

This guide shows how to extrude on object more quickly and with greater accuracy in Maya. How? By using a guide curve to dictate the path each extrusion follows, that's how.

19. How to create a switchable IK/FK character rig

Another member of our Maya tutorials team, Chad Robert Morgan, shows you how some clever scripting can help you establish a character rig that transitions smoothly between animation states.

Maya tutorials: improve your character rigging from good to great.

Maya environments

20. Use the shader effect to create Lava

After you've created characters, environments are often next on the list. In this Maya tutorial, you'll learn how to use the shader effect in Maya's material editor - called Hypershade - to create the perfect lava effect.

21. Ahoy there! Want to create stormy seas?

Getting the texture of water is a feat in itself but what do you do when faced with creating a whole ocean? Take a look at this tutorial which shows you how to succeed with stormy seas in a few simple steps.

22. Make some mud in Maya

Get your hands dirty with this brilliant tutorial. You'll be creating a dynamic muddy effect using a soft buddy to get some great textures.

23. Create falling leaves

Making sure your leaves don't have too many segments is just one of the handy tips featured in this Maya tutorial. Take a look at how you can create the perfect falling leaves effect - it'll blow you away!

 falling leaves
Create a great falling leaves effect

Clothing and claymation

24. How to loop an nCloth simulation in Maya

Gary Noden shows you how to create a cloth sequence that correctly animates to link up with its starting point.

25. How to show high-res detail with normal maps

Firat Enderoglu presents a low-overhead technique for adding detail to low-resolution geometry.

26. How to create models that look like clay

To make a model look like clay you have to find a good balance of model detail and displacements. Not only that, but you need to have materials and lights that support the look. Everything is explained in this tutorial.

Maya tutorials: give your models a distinctive 'claymation' look.

27. Create Awesome Cloth Simulations using nDynamics in Maya

Getting realistic effects right can be the difference between an unsuccessful Maya creation and a great one. Here, you'll learn how to create life-like cloth simulations using nDynamics' passive colliders and ncloth objects.

Animal antics

28. Rendering realistic prehistoric animals

Go back in time with this tutorial, which will show you how to render your prehistoric animals once the model has been finalised. This is one for the more advanced Maya user, which will stop your models looking far from plastic.

29. American Alligator 3D modelling

Massimo Righi gets it right with this reptile tutorial. Focusing on a love of photography, this tutorial will show you how to create a sunbathing cold-blooded beast for animation purposes.

30. Create a tiger zoo

Massimo Righi is back again to show you how to create a pack of Bengal tigers using Maya 8.5 for the modeling, MentalRay for rendering, Photoshop for creating the textures and Shave and HairCut for the fur of the head.

 tiger zoo
Maya tutorials: Create a tiger zoo using Maya 8.5

31. Create a cute flying butterfly

In this basic tutorial, you'll create a simple butterfly in Maya and animate it to fly amongst some pretty flowers. A cute and simple tutorial for beginners.

 Create a cute flying butterfly
Maya tutorials: Create a cute flying butterfly

Specific techniques

32. UV layout on a human head

This tutorial from the Gnomon Workshop demonstrates how to unwrap UVs on a human head using only the tools inside Maya. Discover the proper method for cutting the mesh, before unfolding and flattening the various pieces and properly sewing the mesh back together while performing fixes to various regions of the UV mesh.

33. How to create your own TV ident

Use Maya and After Effects to create your own channel ident for a fictitious TV station.

34. Making hair styles with Maya fur

 Use the paint tool
Use the paint tool to select the faces you wish to apply hair to

In this tutorial you will learn how to create some hair styles with Maya fur plug-in. A basic knowledge of Maya's core concepts and procedures is required before attempting this training.

35. Make a 3D coin using only Maya 3D

If you become overwhelmed by the variety of programmes on offer for 3D creation, take a look at this simple coin tutorial. By only using Maya 3D, you'll be able to create a realistic looking coin.

36. How to create effects using Force Fields

In a series of four videos, master of Maya Eric Keller shows you how to use a texture map to control nParticle effects. Sounds complicated, but it's actually much easier than you might think.

37. How to render a mirrored normal map in mental ray

Antony Ward helps you overcome a tricky rendering issue in Maya that can show an unsightly seam on a mirrored object. Ever had that problem? Here's how to fix it.

38. WHOOSH! How to create dynamic smoke trails

Maya tutorials guru Eric Keller returns to explain how the software's powerful fluid emission tools can help you animate a realistic smoke trail following a flying rocket.

39. How to extract foam data from Maya's ocean shader

A quick tutorial that will show you how to extract foam data from the ocean shader in Maya.

Maya tutorials: extract foam data from the ocean shader in Maya.

40. How to make falling rocks tumble-down a slope

Eric Keller makes complex-looking effects seem simple. In this Maya tutorial, he explains how to rotate rocks as they fall and how they can make realistic contact with a hill and each other.

41. Modelling and skinning

A handy six-pack of Maya tutorials that includes guides to repeating and staging; NURBS modelling; polygon modelling and skinning; plus creating fog and glow effects. Registration required.

42. Volume caustics for Maya

Escape Studios has another new free tutorial for Maya users. Learn how to set up a complex scene and generate lighting effects through volumetric material.

That's it for now! Thanks for reading and check back regularly as we add more Maya tutorials to our list.

Words: Kerrie Hughes

Kerrie Hughes is content manager at Creative Bloq.

Subscription offer