Item Group Masking
Wait...what? You can mask item groups in the Shader Tree? Yes...yes you can. Maybe you didn't know that, and even if you did you probably forgot or don't use it much. It can be a great technique though in certain circumstances - particularly in a project with a lot of instances.
So take a look at Item Group Masking in the Shader Tree. The video is longer than I would have liked but there are some potential 'gotcha' situations that I needed to address. If Item Group masking is new to you - give this a shot:
1. Create 3 new primitive mesh items (ball, torus and cube will do nicely).
2. With those 3 items selected go over to the groups tab and click 'New Group' - call it 'Kookamonga'. The 3 primitives will automatically be added to the group.
3. In the shader tree go to 'add layer' and select 'Group' (yeah, I know - every other thing in MODO is called 'Group'...even though it's different than the Item Group you just created.)
4. Over in properties under 'Item' click it and select 'Kookamonga' (it will have white brackets around it). See, you can create an item mask using a Group of items.
5. Add a material into the Kookamonga mask and make it red....or yellow...or lavender because that color smells the best.
6. Open Preview and be amazed.
Watch the video below for the full 'Use Case Scenario' and a couple of gotchas that can crop up.