How did you learn Mental Ray?


I’ve been trying to learn mental ray for 2 years now and I still fell like I’m just scratching the surface. I’ve seen enough tutorials on FG and GI and HDRI to last me a life time but I still dont have a clue what 90% of the nodes in the hypershader do. And I’m not really sure how to hook up a texture using a lookup node. Or how to use Mental Ray lights, cameras and shapes or optimizing my renders so they dont take hours and hours. I’ve tried to read the help file but without a physics degree i cant made heads or tails of most of it.

So I’m desperate to know how everyone especially the Pros learned to use Mental Ray?!?! Is there some magical book or some secret society? I know it’s not taught at any school up here in the Northwest. Tell me tell me! Hehe.


Did you try the mental ray handbooks? [size=2]Rendering with mental ray and prgramming with mental ray?[/size]


via more practising… and ofsure


via more practising… and ofsure


Maybe you’ve been there before?.. plenty of technical data to make your brain hurt. The forums dont seem very busy there, but thats where I would be hanging out for advanced MR info.

BTW - The Digital Tutors MR cd is entry level stuff. I have the feeling you are already passed 75-90% of what is covered on there. Dunno about the Gnomon one, though the the Zbrush cd’s were very thurough.

some other links


A combernation of internet tutorials and trial and error…

belive me getting a book on the dam thing cuts the learning time in half


thanks for the links Goldenarm, excellent stuff!



this forum is the best way to learn mentalray heh :smiley:

there are a lot of beginers to advanced and pro mentalray threads and especially pro mentalray users overhere that help us :slight_smile:

Big thanks to Jozvex, francesca, dagon, floze and everybody who helps the comunity :scream:


well, i jsut looked at a few tutorials… and really, tiral and error thats how i learned maya , and alot of rendering stuff. along with the IPR wich is real useful. or just hit F1. I got a learning DVD to , but trust em THERES ALOT TO MENTAL RAY!


Get rendering with mental ray and make every phenomenon example in that book in the hypergraph using the mibase nodes. That will definately help you become more profecient.


“nope that doesn’t work… I wonder what this does… nope that doesn’t work… I wonder what this does… nope that doesn’t work…”


@Invader_Zim: its weird that this was coming from you. :smiley:


oy Invader Zim…where are you working? my home town is Seattle…and i am thinking of returning. How is the work situation their?


Wow I didnt’ expect so many responses so quickly. Darn… no secret society, i wanted a Mental Ray decoder ring.
I have been trying to get the Mental Images books for almost 2 years. The only references i saw to them are for the next edition which has been postponed to “next month” since I started looking in 03’. :sad:
Also as far as i can tell the videos at Gnomon and Digitutor mainly cover GI, Caustics, HDRI, Motion blurr and all that stuff and I’m still trying to figure out shading networks and phenomina.

But those other links look very cool I’ll check them out thanks goldenarm!

And de_tomato, hehe surprise! That other mental ray thread, down bellow, i started is pretty much ALL my knowledge of mental ray. And I’m hoping you geniuses will be able to answer some of the specific questions as I and other peeps come across them.

Compared to the learning resources for Renderman is seems like people are born knowing how to use Mental Ray and the rest of us are outta luck. But I’ll keep rendering and crawling around CGsociety, thanks a bunch and if you find any more links lemme know!


I’m working in a garage band of a company right now, we havent’ yet produced anything of note.

The buzz around the area is all the companies are hiring like crazy fools trying to find people that can do the work because a lot of the schools arn’t producing anyone they can use. I can attest to this as I’ve personally toured half a dozen local art schools and many of the students have the “I play games so I can make games” mentallity.

And your web site seems to be down, i wanna see your work. We might have a place for you in the garage if you’ve got the skills and the interest. hehe


Alias Learning Tools: Mental Ray Custom Shaders

forgot about this one. Haven’t seen it, but might be worth while.


YES! After almost a year of the publisher postponing the release I finally got my hands on the Rendering with mental ray handbook. Woo third edition YEah!
Let the learning begin!


Eh…most of what’s in that book is already available (word for word) in the manuals that ship with all mental ray connections… :shrug:

And yes, is great for the technical side of MR. Don’t forget the mailing list (which is decently active), too!


lol oh my… Which part of the manual does it repeat actually? I know there’s two blends of the book out there: one for the render dudes (Rendering w/ mr) and one for developers (Programming mr). Yours is probably not repeating all the code examples of the manual?


Admittedly, it’s far more true of the programming book - the rendering book has for more unique content than the programming one - and both of them do seem to be getting more unique content with each revision.
(If you check the the table of contents of the programming book, it might look somewhat familiar: 1.1 Parallelism. 1.2 Free-Form Surfaces. 1.3 Edge Merging. 1.4 Special points and Curves. 1.5 Hierarchical Subdivision Surfaces…you get the picture).
A lot of the beginning chapters of the rendering book have fresh stuff. But a lot of the material covering the mi syntax (and there is a lot of it in there) - or some of the more technical aspects (IE most of the hardware rendering section) can be found in the standard docs.

It’s not really an awful book; definitely a very nice reference to have around. I just don’t think it’s quite the essential resource for learning MR that a lot of people have made it out to be. You can get very far with MR just using the standard documentation (it just might take a little bit of time before you understand what you’re reading ;)).

Of course, if you don’t have access to a copy of MR standalone, the rendering book is worth it just for the standalone demo that comes with it.