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Just like any other third-party shader libraries, OSL shaders placed in the shader search path are automatically registered as Arnold shader nodes. The OSL shader parameters are converted to Arnold parameters. Once loaded, they can be inspected, instantiated and linked in the same way as C++ shaders.

To render OSL shaders directly with Arnold, you must do the following: 

  • Put the OSL shader (.osl and .mtd) in a folder, and set ARNOLD_PLUGIN_PATH to point to this folder.  For example:


  • Arnold will automatically compile the .osl file and produce a dll (.oso) file.


OSL in 3ds Max 2019

In 3ds 2019, there is a new way of using OSL. Arnold will take advantage of this automatically. Simply use the OSL maps provided with 3ds max, or use the OSL editor built into the OSL map to write your own, or load up external OSL files. In this mode, the actual OSL sources are embedded into the Arnold scene and exported as text into .ass file, so there will be no dependency of external OSL files when rendering, and the limitations about shaders not having the same name are lifted. You could, in theory, have twenty totally different shaders named ‘Bob’ and it would still work (not that we recommend this).

See the 3ds Max documentation for more information about OSL. There is also a GitHub for OSL shader exchange which also contains developer documentation and more info a:t ”





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