i’m digging deeper into renderman and i started to create my own little shaders, first i had to get the shader compiler running, before i develop my own creations. this post will explain you how to easily compile a shader for renderman and use it within maya, since the documentation doesn’t offer a clear step-by-step tutorial.
to create a renderman shader you don’t need anything fancy, just notepad and renderman installed on your system. instead of notepad, you may also give cutter a try, which allows you to write renderman shaders in a more convenient way. but let’s stick to the standard stuff for now.
first, you need to set some path variables, so the shader compiler command “shader” will run from your command prompt: access the system environment variables (on vista: right-click on the desktop icon ‘computer’ > properties, advanced system settings > advanced > environment variables…). here, scroll down to path in the system variables listing end click on edit…, scroll to the end of the line and add:
C:\Program Files\Pixar\RenderManForMaya2008-2.0.1\rmantree\bin;C:\Program Files\Pixar\RenderManForMaya2008-2.0.1\etc;
change the path or version according to your setup, assure that the entry is enclosed by semicolons. you now can create whatever shader you want in notepad, save it with a .sl suffix and compile it within the command prompt (run… > cmd):
this will create a file called myshader.slo in the same folder which you can load when you create a renderman shader in maya and point to this slo file. one little trick is that you can create a shortcut of the command prompt within your shader folder, so when you double-click it, the command prompt will start within this directory, so you don’t have to point to the .sl file’s directory any more; very useful.
i’d love to try out slim, which allows you create shaders in a visual way without any line of code and is tightly integrated into maya, but it’s only part of the ‘pro’ version of pixar’s renderman for maya, maybe i’ll have to check my budget again (good news, they finally have educational pricing for students available now!).