It's been too long between updates. Things have been really busy lately and I've needed some rest, but I'm at the point where I'm ready to jump into it again. Looking over the blog I realize it's deviated a bit from the original intention- which was talking about materials and shading networks and building up a resource of techniques- and has instead become a kind of dev blog for the couple of python projects I am involved with. I'm not sure what to do about that just yet.
Today though, I will atleast try to merge those two things by previewing a new feature to mGo!, which I've dubbed 'The Materialiser'. This new functionality will allow you to save and load material presets from inside Mari, and of course is designed to work with Antonio's production based OpenGl shaders. When importing a preset, the script will read the shader type and from there a new shader will be created and every attribute set. In this way you can quickly get up and running with materials in Mari by having quick and easy access to these presets. When saving, you'll be able to sort your custom materials within categories, based on shader type or whatever you wish, and we'll include a bunch of presets with the release.
A feature which could potentially really help Mari artists is an RGB values to New Channel feature, which I've been trialing the past couple of days. This would take any attributes in the material preset which were represented as RGB values, eg- the specular colour of a gold material or the gloss value for a matt plastic, and recreate those values inside new channels by adding a constant colour layer inside of them. From there, the new layer would serve as a reference or guide - you'd have a base colour or greyscale value to work from as you built up textural variety around those values. It seems like this would be quite useful.
While I'm working on this stuff, Antonio is putting the finishing touches on a new system which will allow blended shader and falloff shader support in mGo! We'll transfer this system over to the Materialiser soon, so you'll be able to easily load up a 'carpaint with decals' blended shader preset if you wanted- and output the whole network directly to Maya once textured. Lots of interesting potential there.