One of the main reasons I love Maya is that it is ultimately customizable!  You can do things like customize the interface, create custom buttons that automate common tasks. Even redesign default behaviors of materials or rearrange attributes of built in shaders so that the interface makes more sense to you the user. I have reorganized the attributes of the MIA_material into more intuitive locations.

Autodesk has been refining the attribute window, while mental images has been adding features, and they always seem to leave me a bit disappointed in the organization of these attributes.  Why aren’t all the reflection attributes in the same place? BDRF attributes have there own category, that falls after refraction and translucency falls after BDRF, not after refraction. This shader is hard enough to wrap your head around without have to hunt down were the settings are, or when you tweak reflections, to be scrolling up and down between BDRF falloff and reflectivity. I guess I’m just meticulous!

Called the Mentalray Architectural Shader, Mental Ray Developed the shader be used as a monolithic shader for use with hard surfaces. When I first started using the shader I was puzzled at the incredibly different approach that this shader takes compared to the classic Blinn, Phong or in simpler terms having different attributes for specularity and reflection. I was determined to wrap my head around this new thinking; “Reflection and Specularity are the same thing”. Specularity is just a glossy reflection.

I recommend reading the information available in the help section for mentalray on this awesome shader and encourage you to take the time to tackle some of the other workflow wrenches this shader throws at you, ie. tone mapping, gamma correction,  and upto 32 bit output. This shader has many fantastic features such as

  • Optimized blurry reflections and refractions
  • Ambient Occlusion with color bleeding
  • Tweakable Facing Ratio Reflection (BDRF)

Here is the link for the updated mia_material_functions.mel.


Replace the file in your scripts/others folder of your Maya installation. Make sure you save a backup in case you mess things up or don’t like the new layout.