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Arnold Shader Network Editor window. Standard shader's output connected to Arnold beauty input shader port.

The editor has three sections:

  1. You can see the preview of the whole network on the left and a tree of available shaders. Arnold shader nodes and supported C4D shaders are listed in the tree and are grouped by functionality. All groups have a color assigned to them so that you can quickly identify the shader type in the editor. These colors are hardcoded and cannot be changed, however, you can set your own title color for any shader nodes in the network.
    The tree has a filter field for quickly navigating through the various shaders. When you start typing, shader nodes containing the given substring will only be displayed. You can also use arrow keys to navigate in the tree. To create a new shader just press the 'Enter' key.
  2. The work area is in the center of the dialog. This is a graph view editor where you can connect shader nodes together via linkable attributes (called ports). You can drag & drop any shader from the left tree to the work area. To connect shaders you have to click on the Output port and drag the mouse to the blue corner of the other shader. A menu will appear listing the available parameters that you can connect to.

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    The root of the network has to be connected to the Arnold Beauty port Shader port of the main group. There are multiple outputs available (such as Arnold Displacement, Arnold Viewport, etc.).

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    If the shader has a color or vector output then its components (e.g. R, G, B or X, Y, Z) can be connected separately. Open the output port menu of the shader to access these components. Note that a component cannot be connected to the Arnold BeautyShader or Arnold Displacement ports.

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  3. Parameters of the selected node are displayed on the right side. You can change any values here. Note that if a parameter is linked then it's not visible here. You have to disconnect it first to edit the constant value of the parameter.

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  • Import...: import shaders from the selected ASS or MaterialX file and adds them to the current network. The new shaders are not connected to the Beauty Arnold Shader or Displacement port or any pre-existing shader.
  • Export to ASS...: exports all shaders from the network to the selected ASS file.
  • Export selected to ASS...: exports only the selected shaders from the network to the selected ASS file.
  • Export to MaterialX...: exports all shaders from the network to the selected MaterialX file.
  • Export selected to MaterialX...: exports only the selected shaders from the network to the selected MaterialX file.

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  • Align nodes: updates the layout and align nodes based on their connections.
  • Delete unused shaders: removes all shaders from the network which are not connected to any output port (e.g. Arnold BeautyShader, Arnold Displacement, etc.).
  • Create reference: moves the selected shaders to a new Arnold Material and replaces them with a reference of that material. The shaders must be connected.
  • Automatic node optimization:  when enabled the shader automatically expands if a connection is added or removed. When you remove an existing connection, the port is automatically removed.
  • Auto connect after delete: when enabled the first input of a shader is automatically connected to its outputs when the shader if removed, keeping the network together.
  • Auto file browser when creating an image shader: when enabled the file browser pops up automatically when a new image shader is added to the network.

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The following commands are available in the shader network editor by a shortcut. To see all the commands just press Alt + W.

  • Set beauty root as surface shader: Connects the selected shader to the beauty Arnold Shader port. This is useful when you want to quickly visualize a part of the network in the IPR.
    • shortcut: Alt + W and 1
  • Set as displacement root shader: Connects the selected shader to the displacement Arnold Displacement port.
    • shortcut: Alt + W and 2
  • Set viewport root shader: Connects the selected shader to the viewport port. This is useful when you want to visualize a part of the network (e.g. textures) in the viewport.
    • shortcut: Alt + W and 3
  • Connect shader: Allows you to easily connect the selected shader to another shader in the network. Useful when the shaders are are far away and it's difficult to drag the output with the mouse. If multiple shaders are selected the command tries to connect the first selected shader to the others.
    • shortcut: Alt + W and C
  • Delete unused shaders: Removes all shaders from the network which is not connected to any output port (e.g. Arnold BeautyShader, Arnold Displacement, etc.).
    • shortcut: Alt + W and D
  • Show/hide histogram: Enables or disables the histogram view.
    • shortcut: Alt + W and G

  • Create reference: Moves the selected shaders to a new Arnold Material and replaces them with a reference of that material. The shaders must be connected.
    • shortcut: Alt + W and I
  • Assign texture: This command creates an image shader with your texture connected to a selected parameter. It shows a menu where you can select a parameter of the selected shader. It then opens a file browser to select your texture. If multiple shaders are selected you must select one of them from the menu first. When no shader is selected you must select one from the network first.
    • shortcut: Alt + W and T
    • shader context menu: Operator > Assign Texture
  • Load textures...: Loads all textures from a folder and adds them to the network editor as image shaders.
    • shortcut: Alt + W and L
  • Write texture...: Allows you to write out the modifications of a texture. See the Arnold Shader Network section.
    • shortcut: Alt + W and W

  • Align nodes: Updates the layout and align nodes based on their connections.

    • shortcut: Alt + W and A


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