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In addition to the standard Maya shaders, mental ray comes with its own library of shaders. These can be used to create very sophisticated surface effects. So let's take a look at where we could find these on mental ray shaders. I'm going to go to Window > Rendering Editors > Hypershade to open up Hypershade and you'll see in the Create tab, if I click on Maya up here and I click on Surface, you'll see these are the standard Maya shaders, so Anisotropic, Blinn, Lambert, Phong and so on and so forth. I want to create some of the mental ray shaders, I'll go down to the mental ray section and click on Materials, and you can see now I have a list of quite a few mental ray specific shaders.
Now you don't have to master every single one of these shaders. Just a few of these shaders will take care of most of the effects that you want to create. Now I want to point out very briefly that you'll see that mental ray has its own version of blinn and lambert and phong, these types of shaders, and these are similar to the Maya standard shaders, but they're used in more complex mental ray shading networks. If you just need to use like a standard blinn shader, go ahead and use the Maya Blinn found here under Maya Surface.
That would work just fine when rendering mental ray. The only reason you need to use the mental ray blinn is part of a more advanced network. The other thing I would like to point out is you'll noticed that some of these shaders have three versions. For instance, this metallic paint has a metallic_paint, metallic_paint_x and metallic_paint_x_passes. So which one should you use? The x stands for extended, which means that it has some extended capabilities more in the backend, stuff that you don't necessarily need to worry about when you're solving typical shading problems.
I tend to use the x version of the shader and then if I know I'm going to render it using render passes, I'll use the x_passes shader. And for example, I'm going to create the metallic paint shader just to show a simple point. Let's say if you start out with this version of the shader and you decide later you need to upgrade the shader for if you are going to use passes or whatever, if you open up the Attribute Editor for the shader down here at the bottom, there is an Upgrade Shader button and this will upgrade it to the x version or the x_passes.
So, if you start with this shader and create a bunch of different attributes, but for some reason you need to upgrade it for example to create render with passes, all you need to do is press this button and then you can use that for rendering with passes.
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