The Great Directory Migration - putting stuff in 3ds max 2011 (and newer)

I apologize that this blog post is way overdue.

What's this about?
All over the net (including this blog) you can find instructions in how to add various shaders to 3ds Max, by putting files in certain directories in the 3ds max directory structure, namely a "mentalray" directory (with various subdirectories) under your main 3ds max directory.

Nowdays, there are two things to watch out for:

GOTCHA #1: 64/32 Bitness

First is 32 vs 64 bit. In windows, programs on a 32 bit machine live under a directory that (on an english speaking computer) is called "C:\Program Files\" 

This is also true for 64 bit programs on a 64 bit computer.

However, for 32 bit programs on a 64 bit computer the directory is called "C:\Program Files (x86)\" which may throw you off.

GOTCHA #2: 3ds Max 2011 (and newer)

When Autodesk introduced the MetaSL framework in 3ds Max 2011 (which means that shaders are not necessarily mental ray shaders per se) having a subdirectory to your max directory called "mentalray" doesn't really make sense any more. But since these both are mental images technologies, having a directory called "mentalimages" does make sense.

The change was made such that instead of a single "mentalray" directory under which the three categories of shaders (standard, autoload and 3rdparty), there is now instead a "mentalimages" directory. The three categories exist under this directory, similar to before.

However, under those three directories, the distinction between "mentalray" and "MetaSL" shaders has been added.

Under those you find various other subdirectories - which under the "mentalray" subdirectory hence includes the good old friends the "include" and "shaders" directories.


To add an .mi file like for example the skinplus.mi (a mental ray "include" file) shader to be automatically loaded on startup, you want it in the "include" directory under the "autoload" category.

In 3ds Max 2010 (or older) this would have been:
  • C:\Program Files\Autodesk\3ds Max 2010\mentalray\shaders_autoload\include
In 3ds Max 2011 (and newer) this would instead be
  • C:\Program Files\Autodesk\3ds Max 2011\mentalimages\shaders_autoload\mentalray\include

Basically, the translation would be that
  • C:\Program Files\Autodesk\3ds Max 2010\mentalray\shaders_<category>\<dirname>
  • C:\Program Files\Autodesk\3ds Max 2011\mentalimages\shaders_<category>\mentalray\<dirname>

I hope this helps installing various shaders and other goodies in 3ds Max 2011 and beyond.



Ehsan Nekooee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ehsan Nekooee said...

Sorry for the off topic question.
I want to implement a very very simple and very basic render engine for a university project.

Just wanted to ask you how hard the process is? and as long as I'm a student can I do such project or It's better I choose another title for my project.

pingguoguniang said...

hello, I am using 3D max 2011 and i have some problems with rendering. I dunno why when i render my materials which is a dark brown becomes a light brown. I have search many websites and i cant find the solution to it. can you please give me some advice pleasE?

Thank you!