First released in 1998 by Alias Wavefront and made better by Autodesk, Maya is an industry-leading 3D animation software that makes workflows easier for artists around the globe. It’s also one of the most versatile modeling applications there is. This application was used in films like Avatar, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Frozen, Monster Inc. and the Matrix. It’s also used as a visual effects tool for Games of Thrones and The Walking Dead, just to name a few.

With its full suite of tools for character animation, lighting, VFX and motion graphics, Maya packs a lot of features that deliver breathtaking results. But when used in conjunction with other plugins, Maya becomes an animation and VFX powerhouse. To expand Maya’s functionalities even further, try any of these plugins:

Carbon Scatter + Maya

E-On Software’s Carbon Scatter is a scattering plugin that’s used to create vegetation in popular host applications like Maya. This plugin harnesses the Vue Solid growth and population engine to create complex, detailed populations and environments.

When paired with Maya, Carbon Scatter integrates e-On’s patented EcoSystem™ algorithms, allowing you to create millions of 3D trees, plants, stones, and other objects. The plugin also offers a massive library of 3D plants and trees to choose from.

Download Carbon Scatter here

VUE + Maya

VUE is a standalone animation software that also works as a plugin for Maya. This software lets you create and animate different 3D scenes using a vast arsenal of rendering tools, including volumetric effects, terrain modeling, vegetation modeling, clouds, and atmospheres, just to name a few. Vue for Maya also comes with a host of lighting options for creating outdoor and indoor scenes, highly complex shaders as well as 2 render engines (CPU Ray-tracer and a hybrid GPU/CPU Path tracer).

Download Vue here

HDR Light Studio + Maya

Lightmap’s HDR Light Studio is a CG lighting tool that lets you custom design HDR images in any renderer. HDR Light Studio is a favorite among professional 3D artists worldwide because of the user-friendly interface. Combined with Maya, this tool offers intuitively designed lighting controls. The app lets you set area lights and control both the HDRI map and set of area lights interactively.

Download HDR Light Studio here

Phoenix FD + Maya

Chaos Group’s Phoenix FD is an all-in-one fluid dynamics plugin that lets you create a host of realistic simulations such as fire, smoke, liquids, ocean waves, splashes, spray, and mist. Combined with Maya, this artist-friendly plugin allows you to create fluid dynamic effects that are quick to set up and easy to control. Phoenix FD is also used to create any type of physically based fluid effects with tools for refining, retiming and rendering simulations.

Download Phoenix FD here

RealFlow + Maya

Next Limit Technologies’ RealFlow is seamlessly integrated into Maya to help you create and render advanced photorealistic dynamic and liquid simulations. This plugin lets you simulate granular, viscous, viscoelastic, rigid, and elastic materials quickly and easily. RealFlow also comes with GPU acceleration and simulation solvers to speed up your workflows.

Download RealFlow here

MiArmy + Maya

MiArmy is a Human Logic Engine-based plugin that’s used for crowd simulations, creature physical simulation, AI and behavioral animation as well as rendering. With this plugin, you can create armies instead of separate models. Used with Maya, MiArmy lets you create visually stunning VFX crowds that interact in a realistic manner.

Download MiArmy here

Golaem Crowd + Maya

Golaem Crowd is a crowd simulation software that’s optimized for Maya. The plugin, which promises to be artist-friendly, allows for the simulation of digital character crowds to populate 3D scenes quickly. This tool allows for automatic navigation mesh computation, roadmap-based path planning as well as configurable steering behaviors. With Golaem Crowd, you could create more variety for life-like shots, populate backgrounds/midgrounds in minutes, and avoid repetitive animation tasks.

Download Golaem Crowd here

Keyshot + Maya

Keyshot for Maya is a 3D rendering and animation plugin that allows for real-time rendering, importing scenes in Maya while preserving object hierarchy, materials, and layers, as well as rendering ZBrush sculpts. KeyShot’s efficient workflow makes for an excellent solution for interior renders and product visualizations.

Download Keyshot here

RenderMan + Maya

That’s right, Disney Pixar’s RenderMan could be fully integrated into Maya. By installing this plugin, you could get easy access to RenderMan features in a Maya-centric workflow. RenderMan for Maya offers powerful animation tools that could turn “assets into pretty pixels.” The Renderman for Maya plugin could be used for scripting, advanced shading techniques, and customization. In addition, the RenderMan software could be used for Maya geometry, materials, lights, and translate them for use in the rendering process.

Download RenderMan here

Shave and a Haircut + Maya

Shave and a Haircut is a JavaScript plugin that lets you create realistic CG hair. This plugin can be used in animation, environments, motion graphics, and virtual reality. From silky, full-length hair to scraggly beards, Shave and a Haircut is a powerful tool for creating a variety of CG hairs at minimal render times. This plugin is an industry staple and has been used in producing games, VFX films, and live-action films with CGI.

Download Shave a Haircut here

Pulldownit + Maya

Pulldownit is a plugin that’s used for creating destruction effects, massive rigid bodies simulations, and jaggy fragments. The plugin offers a Voronoi-based pre-cutting tool called Shatter IT that pre-cuts a 3D model into hundreds of shards in seconds. It also comes with built-in Dynamics and Fracture solver to fracture any kind of brittle materials such as glass or stone. Pulldownit lets you amend parameters, resume simulation at any frame and let animated objects or characters interact with simulated ones.

Download Pulldownit here

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