Maya Shaders

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

What are shaders?

The word shader means different things to different people and in different software. I sorta like the definition that exists in the Advanced Renderman Book (however, I am somewhat biased),

All shaders answer the question "What is going on at this spot"

That might seem too general, but it's just about the only way to describe what shaders can do. For example, in prman, you have definitions for surface shaders, displacement shaders, light shaders, volume shaders and imager shaders.

In Mental Ray, you have a whole list including material shaders, texture shaders, shadow shaders, photon shaders, etc.

In 3dsmax as yet another example, they have generalized their shading system into the concept of maps and materials, each material can be a different "shader". The line between a map and a material /shader in prman is somewhat vague, while in max it's been split into two distinct areas.

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