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Using Maya's standard shaders with mental ray

From: Creating Textures and Shaders in Maya

Video: Using Maya's standard shaders with mental ray

The mental ray render is integrated as a plug-in into Maya, but you can still use standard Maya shaders when rendering scenes with mental ray. So for example, in this scene I have a number of teapots and each one has a different Maya shader applied to it. I'll take a brief look at how some of these shaders work. Here's the scene right here. On this teapot in the far left I have a Lambert shader applied. Lambert shader is good for diffuse surfaces. So when light hits the surface it's reflected in all directions, creating kind of a matte like quality to the render.

Using Maya's standard shaders with mental ray

The mental ray render is integrated as a plug-in into Maya, but you can still use standard Maya shaders when rendering scenes with mental ray. So for example, in this scene I have a number of teapots and each one has a different Maya shader applied to it. I'll take a brief look at how some of these shaders work. Here's the scene right here. On this teapot in the far left I have a Lambert shader applied. Lambert shader is good for diffuse surfaces. So when light hits the surface it's reflected in all directions, creating kind of a matte like quality to the render.

So you look at the render right here. This is what Lambert shader looks like. So there's no reflection or specular highlight on Lambert shaders. It's just essentially a diffuse control. So I can control the intensity of the diffuse reflections using the Diffuse slider. I'm just moving this up and down and you can see how the surface becomes lighter or darker. Next to this teapot I have a teapot with Blinn shader applied. Blinn shader is one of the most commonly used shaders and you can use it with mental ray.

It's good for simulating various types of shiny metal. It has a nice broad highlight with a nice falloff to it. You can see this is the Blinn render right here and it's also reflective. Like the Lambert shader it has a Diffuse setting as well and then to control the specular highlight and reflectivity you want to go down to the Specular Shading section. So by decreasing the Eccentricity you get a tighter highlight. You can then control the Specular Color, make it more or less intense, and also the Reflectivity, how much it reflects the environment.

Now a couple things to note and this sort of a general statement about many of the Maya shaders. You have a separate setting for Diffuse and Reflective qualities and also the Reflective qualities are split between controls for the highlight and the overall reflection. This is to allow you more flexibility when designing a shader. In the real world the more diffuse a surface is, the less it won't precisely reflect the environment, because the diffuse quality is essentially as the surface it becomes more rough it diffuses light into the environment.

So you see less of the reflection of the environment on the surface. But in this shader there are separate controls, and this allows you to create the look of maybe like a layered material. So something that might have a diffuse layer and then on top of that kind of like a glossy coating. The reason we have this separate controls for this specular highlight in the Reflectivity is that CG lights are actually emanated from an infinitely small point in space. So if I was to do a realistic reflection of a CG light source, it would end up being a very, very tiny dot.

Maybe even less than a pixel in size. So by adding a separate specular control it's kind of a cheat that allows you to create the look of a reflected light source on this surface without being necessarily physically accurate. This again is just to give you more control over when you're designing a particular type of shader. Next to the teapot with the Blinn shader I have Ramp shader. If you look in the Attribute Editor for the Ramp shader you can see that there are various color ramps that are designed to control the qualities of the shader for the Color, Transparency, Incandescence, the Specular Color, Specular Rolloff, and Reflectivity, how much it reflects the environment.

In this case these two settings use a graph. You can expand this graph by clicking on this little icon here. It's the one where I get more control over editing it. The way in which the ramps and the graphs are controlled is determined by the Color Inputs setting. So for this particular shader I have Facing Angle. So this is to simulate like sort of Fresnel types of reflections. I've selected this color marker here on this side of the ramp. I clicked on the Selected Color swatch and just use the color chooser to add a dark blue and I'm going to click on the second color input.

Click in the color swatch and add a different color, like maybe a deep red. You can see in the preview here that since this is set to Facing Angle, the parts of the surface that face the camera are red; the parts of the surface that face away are dark blue. But you can also choose things like Light Angle, Surface Brightness, Normalize Lightness, that keeps the brightness within range of 0 to 1. These are different ways to determine the ramp shader. Ramp shaders are good for various types of special effects, but you can use them for a variety of surfaces as well.

The Anisotropic shader is a standard Maya shader that simulates anisotropic reflectivity and specular highlights. In other words, surfaces that have microfacets on them, like a CD or a satin pillow or something like that. If you open the Attribute Editor for the Anisotropic shader, you'll find the controls for editing the specular highlight under the Specular Shading section and you can control things like the Angle, the Spread in order to control the tightness of the highlight on the surface, Roughness, Fresnel Index.

So how much the highlight reflects based on the incidence angle or the angle of view that you're viewing the surface. If you look at our render here, here's the Anisotropic shader and you can see how this highlight is sort of stretched out here. In the back here I have two teapots with the Phong and Phong E shader applied. These are again very useful for simulating glossy materials such as plastic and glass. So it's an alternative to using something like a Blinn shader and depending on what the surface you're trying to determine you might want to experiment using either Phong or Blinn or Phong E.

If I click on this teapot right here towards the center and this has a Phong shader applied and again the specular reflective qualities are found here in the Specular Shading section. So to control the size of the highlight you can increase or decrease the cosine power, you can change the Specular Color, the amount of Reflectivity, and so on and so forth. The Phong E is very similar to the Phong shader. It just has additional controls. You can control the Roughness of the highlight and the Highlight Size separately and also the Whiteness and the Specular Color.

The Whiteness is kind about the brightness of the highlight and then the Specular Color. I'm going to click on the swatch here and choose Green. So that's the Specular Color, but the Whiteness you can see controls kind of the intensity of the highlight. Then again we have Reflectivity, how much it reflects the environment. So if you're comfortable using the Maya standard shaders, you can use them when rendering with mental ray and you'll find for the most part you can simulate most materials using the Maya standard shaders.

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This video is part of

Image for Creating Textures and Shaders in Maya
Creating Textures and Shaders in Maya

37 video lessons · 7892 viewers

Eric Keller
Author

 
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  1. 2m 19s
    1. Welcome
      1m 6s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 13s
  2. 17m 49s
    1. Explaining diffuse reflections
      2m 39s
    2. Defining glossy and blurred reflections
      2m 32s
    3. Looking at refraction
      4m 20s
    4. Describing the Fresnel effect
      1m 56s
    5. Understanding anisotropy
      1m 10s
    6. Identifying ambient and reflection occlusion
      1m 49s
    7. Defining sub-surface scattering
      2m 4s
    8. Simulating translucency
      1m 19s
  3. 1h 8m
    1. Using Maya's standard shaders with mental ray
      7m 2s
    2. Comparing mental ray and Maya shader nodes
      9m 12s
    3. Creating mental ray shaders
      2m 32s
    4. Making sense of mental ray shaders
      10m 35s
    5. Introducing the mia_material
      9m 16s
    6. Creating a custom mia_material preset
      9m 17s
    7. Looking at car paint materials
      6m 43s
    8. Using subsurface scattering shaders
      13m 33s
  4. 1h 5m
    1. Understanding UV coordinates
      4m 26s
    2. Comparing NURBS and polygon UVs
      4m 48s
    3. Mapping polygon UV surfaces
      13m 1s
    4. Using texture maps for color and other shader channels
      8m 1s
    5. Applying and projecting 2D procedural texture nodes
      4m 0s
    6. Applying 3D procedural texture nodes
      7m 1s
    7. Using ramp textures
      8m 12s
    8. Setting up utility nodes
      6m 29s
    9. Using file texture nodes
      9m 41s
  5. 22m 36s
    1. Applying the turbulence texture
      9m 37s
    2. Considering the round corners texture
      4m 17s
    3. Improving skin detail with ambient occlusion
      4m 27s
    4. Applying reflection occlusion
      4m 15s
  6. 33m 6s
    1. Painting bump maps
      4m 14s
    2. Creating normal maps
      5m 24s
    3. Applying normal maps
      6m 17s
    4. Creating displacement maps
      9m 14s
    5. Troubleshooting displacement maps
      7m 57s
  7. 33s
    1. Goodbye
      33s

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