Cinema 4D vs Maya: Which is a better choice?

Cinema 4D vs Maya are two professional 3D software for creating models, animation, and beautiful renders. However, they differ in how they perform different tasks. In this article, VFXRendering will dive deeper into the differences between Cinema 4D vs Maya. Which one of them is a better choice for your needs?

cinema 4d vs maya which is a better choice

Image Source: Cinema 4D S22 Splash Screen – Nidia Dias

Cinema 4D by Maxon

Cinema 4D was created and initially released in 1990 by the German software company Maxon. It is a professional 3D software package for 3D modeling, animation, simulation, and rendering. C4D offers the award-winning MoGraph which is a procedural modeling and animation toolset. It gives motion designers the ability to quickly and easily create complex and abstract animations.

Its latest version – Cinema 4D 2024 has brought a bunch of new features, delivering unmatched speed and performance for your most demanding creative scenes. The 2024 release includes Rigid body simulations, Pyro, new Vertex Normal tools, and more.

Maya by Autodesk

Maya was originally created by Alias Systems Corporation. But it is now owned and developed by the giant corporation Autodesk. It is a professional 3D software package for 3D animation, modeling, simulation, and rendering.

Maya is best known for creating realistic characters and blockbuster-worthy effects. It shapes 3D objects and scenes with intuitive modeling tools as well as brings believable characters to life with engaging animation tools.

Cinema 4D vs Maya: Which is a better choice?

Both Cinema 4D vs Maya offer a variety of different features and functions, including modeling, rendering, and animation. Take a closer look at their differences in each aspect.

3D Modeling

Cinema 4D supports polygonal, volume, and parametric modeling.

  • Polygonal modeling: you move and edit the vertices, edges, and faces of a polygon to build a model.
  • Volume modeling: you consider the volume as a whole, which is pretty similar to sculpting.
  • Parametric modeling: you assign precise values to specific dimensions and quickly adjust them.

In addition, Cinema 4D includes a massive library of presets, architectural objects, and lifelike textures.

Maya, like Cinema 4D, supports polygonal modeling. It also has NURBS (non-uniform rational B-splines) modeling, which is a surface modeling method. In other words, NURBS are mathematical representations of two-dimensional or three-dimensional objects.

Maya includes an integrated sculpting suite in addition to polygonal modeling. This is in contrast to Cinema 4D, where ZBrush must be purchased individually. Maya also has a UV editing toolbox.


Character animation, rigging, and cyclical movements are all possible with Cinema 4D. A character’s repeated movements, such as a bird’s beating wings, are called cyclical movements. Thanks to the cyclical movements, you do not have to generate this motion manually every time. Instead, you can make a cyclical movement that repeats itself. You may also recreate animations for objects with similar controls using this technique. Then, you can change the duplicates rather than starting from scratch.

cinema 4d vs maya which is a better choice c4d

Image source: Maxon Cinema 4D 2024 Splash Screen – Sebastian Marek

On the other hand, the animation toolset in Maya is non-destructive. This means that whatever happens in the timeline impacts only the animation and not the model. Maya also includes Ghosting, which is similar to utilizing onion skinning in 2D animation to see how motion changes over time. There is also an animation tool in Maya called “Blue pencil”. The tool allows you to make annotations right to the viewport without impacting the final outcome.


Cinema 4D includes the default render engine Redshift from Maxon for rendering. However, you can use many other third-party render engines such as Octane Render, V-Ray, Cycles 4D, Arnold (Autodesk’s render engines for Maya), and more.

Maya’s main rendering engine is Arnold, which allows you to render your final output in either CPU or GPU and observe the rendering in real time. Besides, you can use third-party render engines such as Redshift, Octane Render, V-Ray, and more.


For Individuals, Cinema 4D is now only purchased with other Maxon products. This may save you some money if you plan to use multiple programs from Maxon. On the other hand, you still can buy Cinema 4D on its own as a Teams license. 

  • C4D + Redshift: individual subscription at €127.92/month or €1011.06/year.
  • Maxon One (including C4D, Redshift, ZBrush, and other Maxon products): individual subscription at €170.97/month or €1351.77/year.
  • Teams subscription: €1044.27/year (C4D).
  • Perpetual license: €3567 for Cinema 4D R25 (the price changes depending on regions).
  • Licenses for Students and Teachers: $20/year (Maxon One).
  • Licenses for Schools and Universities: €67.65/year (C4D) or €220.17/year (Maxon One).
  • Trial: 14-day free trial

In terms of licensing, Maya is much simpler than Cinema 4D. It is only available as a subscription.

  • Subscription: $235/month, $1875/year, or $5625/3 years.
  • Educational license and subscription: free for one year and renewable as long as you remain eligible.
  • Trial: 30-day free trial
cinema 4d vs maya which is a better choice maya

Image source: Prasanth Chundakkattil


Cinema 4D vs Maya: Which is a better choice?

In conclusion, Cinema 4D is the more user-friendly software of the two, while Maya is a more complete program. Cinema 4D is the go-to 3D software for motion graphics whereas Maya focuses more on animation.

In terms of applications, Cinema 4D is often used for motion graphics, conceptual art, architectural visualization, and design work. Artists generally use this software to create visual effects, commercial campaigns, and video game visuals.

Maya, on the other hand, is the best when it comes to rigging and 3D animation. That is why artists mainly use it for creating animated and live-action films, TV shows, and video games.

In terms of pricing, Maya is more expensive than C4D. But you can use the free trial to compare Cinema 4D vs Maya and discover which one you want to stick with.

If you are a newbie, many recommend starting with Blender to learn the fundamentals of modeling and animation for free. You can then proceed to Cinema 4D to instantly create professional results. Finally, you may switch to Maya to work in the industry.

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