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I have the entire "Learning Maya 6" books that I purchased back when Maya 6/6.5 was the hottest thing. I read some of the books but never finished the series. I don't know much about Maya or the field. I want to get back into the field but I have a concern.

My question: Would I be failing if I decided to use my old Maya 6 books and Maya 6.5 software? As opposed to ditching my old books and starting with Maya 2013 and online tutorials, videos, etc.?

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I edited out your second question. Please post one question per question... – Ricket Oct 17 '12 at 19:39
You will be fine with Maya 6. A lot of tools to make things easier wont be available to you, but if you are making stuff for games you will be fine (it will just be a bit more difficult.) I would suggest using your Maya 6 books to get yourself familiar with all the concepts and then move on to 2013 materials to learn about all the new shiny stuff. – Benjamin Danger Johnson Oct 17 '12 at 20:43
I'm assuming your issue here is that ditching the old books and getting new ones would be expensive, because those books are expensive! you should specify that in the question – jhocking Oct 17 '12 at 21:26

I have used Maya in a production environment for several years as an artist, across multiple versions, and I have to say that learning a newer version of the program is going to be more beneficial than sticking to 6.5.

If you are truly serious about getting back into the program I would recommend that you shop around and find an updated textbook- the investment will pay off!

Although the fundamentals of the program have been stable since version 6.5, there have been many improvements to the user interface, the scripting editor, the render settings, better view-port previews and much more. Being aware of these differences is important.

Make sure to check out the 'Whats new in version X' website, for example this website for Maya 2011. Checking out these pages will assist you in making an informed decision about the software package you decide to learn.

In addition to the new improvements, bear in mind that many new plugins that you may wish to use with your work may not support older versions of Maya, and any plugins that do may no longer be supported by the people who wrote them.

Finally, assuming you want to use Maya in the workplace, learning an outdated package may mean that your skills won't be as appealing to a prospective employer, unless their pipeline is also built around older versions.

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There's a third approach you didn't mention, and this is what I would recommend: Continue using your Maya 6 books but use the latest Maya software. Not that much has changed, especially in the fundamentals/basics. Just refer to online tutorials or the learning videos that come with Maya to fill you in on anything that's changed from what the book says.

For example, around then (I don't recall exactly which version) they changed the name of one crucial preferences window from Render Globals to Render Settings (or something like that). The preferences are all the same, you'd just need to know the changed name.

(btw I'm assuming your issue here is that ditching the old books and getting new ones would be expensive, because those books are expensive! if that's not your issue then absolutely go for the latest learning materials)

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I think I'll give this a try, it sounds very approachable. – nodebase Oct 17 '12 at 22:48

Failing? No, but you would be limiting yourself if you have access to Maya 2013 (which is expensive... not going to ask...). Also, it depends on what you are trying to achieve. Do you want to only make some models for games? If so, Maya 6 should work just fine. However, if you want to get into some of the more advanced CG topics (cloth, dynamics, sculpting, animation, etc.) and interop with other applications, Maya 201X is going to be your best bet.

If you don't need all the junk features that's in Maya, I would take a look at some cheaper specialty tools (such as modo for modeling).

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I have access the all the versions of Maya 2011 - 2013, legally, as a student. I also have access to videos and tutorials for the latest version of Maya, but in digital format, not actual books. I would not buy new physical books. – nodebase Oct 17 '12 at 22:47

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