This is a very basic comparison. This article compares the two most fundamental aspects of an animation/modeling program: selecting objects, vertices, edges, or faces (polygons) and transforming their position, rotation, and scale.
Maya’s means of selecting is possibly the most efficient out of all other programs. It gives you the option of using hotkeys and a well-developed gizmo. The hotbox (space-bar) gives a quick diagram of almost every accessible feature. The traditional left mouse click and an emphasis on gizmo use over hotkeys is the preferred method by most professionals. The loop selection feature is the easiest and fastest. All a user does is click a single point, edge, or polygon; and then double click an adjacent one. The loop extending from these two selections is automatically selected. By holding shift the user can add to this loop selection by recreating this simple procedure ad infinitum.
Maya’s gizmo has the standard X, Y, Z, and “All” (yellow box in center) axis controls for position, rotation, and scale but in Maya 2015 they added an ingenious little yellow square that can be used to transform an object or component along a plane (2 axis). It may sound like a trivial improvement but it is a pretty big deal. The “plane transform” ability speeds up modeling and animation quite a bit.
Maya does have a horrible tendency to have horrible transformations. Rotate is by far the most awkward as it requires a use to make several passes on anything greater than 45°.
Maya’s loose entry and exit between object mode and component mode can also be very frustrating.
Blender emphasizes hotkeys and uses a very non-standard right mouse button for selecting objects. It is the single most discussed feature of Blender. It is dumb, backwards, and literally keeps thousands of professionals from familiarizing themselves with the software.
There is an option in the preferences to change to right mouse button select, but when a user enables it the hotkey system Blender relies on gets wonky and many things become problematic. The heavy reliance on hotkeys is a bit bothersome because a working professional who uses many programs has to learn and retain a library worth of hotkeys information. Blender also has a Maya and 3DS Max preset mode, but they are extremely problematic and many functions do not translate exactly.
Their are a lot of selection options in “edit mode” for vertices, edges, and faces like: lasso, parameter, edge loop, and many more. Again a user needs to use a lot of hotkeys for a simple selection (combination of two together, then an additional letter). Despite what Blenderers say, it is not fast. It speeds nothing up and can actually slow things down. And many times parameter select (like Maya’s select loop) does not work. If a model is even slightly complex the parameter selects loops that meander around or selects a horizontal loop when the user is clearly indicating a vertical loop.
Blender has a gizmo, and it is ok. Blender plays down gizmo priority and gives left mouse button priority to the 3D cursor, which at best should be a feature accessed with a hotkey despite Blenderers saying it is so totally valuable. I have been using Blender quite a bit for many years and the 3D cursor just is not that important or used more frequently than object select.
Transformations are also too reliant on hotkeys. Having to hotkey an axis for a simple transformation adds an unnecessary step, doubling the “work” involved in a simple task, which may not seem like much but this adds up quick with such a fundamental operation as object transform.
The best feature, even better than Maya’s “plane” transform ability (Maya 2015), is Blender’s infinite scroll. It allows the user to modify an object or edit a mesh with a mouse movement that never ends. When you reach one side of the screen the pointer appears on the opposite side (like Pacman). This is such a powerful feature that it makes up for A LOT of Blender’s problems with selection and transformations.
Blender’s “locking” into either object mode or edit mode is very efficient.