Shaun Foster has a look at layered shader workflow using the new MILA material in Autodesk Maya 2015. As shaun mentions, there are a few different types of workflows for shader layering or material layering in Maya when working with mental ray.

Layered shader tutorial using the Maya 2015 MILA material.

In previous versions of Maya, we were limited to using these hacked together methods which worked, but were not really efficient in their creation or even in the rending pipeline.

MILA-mental-ray-layering-libray-for-maya

In recent times, Maya 2015 introduced and brought to the forefront the MILA material, which represents mental ray’s component level set of shaders that are designed to be an easy to use and physically accurate layered shader.

The MILA shader is optimized for the task, rendering faster and more efficiently than other non-physical legacy layered shader methods in Maya. MILA can easily render passes that can automatically distinguish themselves with mental ray’s Light Path Expressions. MILA in the end represents a more efficient way to deal with light sampling, taking full advantage of importance sampling and subsurface scattering without using the use of lightmap.

Shaun proves some helpful resource to dive further into Layer Shader workflow with mental ray.

There is the Mia Maya Help Doc:  http://download.autodesk.com/us/maya/…
Recommended Mental Ray Shader doc: http://help.autodesk.com/view/MAYAUL/…
MILA Mental Ray Blog Post:  http://blog.mentalray.com/2014/04/18/…
RGB Texture Mask Workflow video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDtj4…

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