Hello there Anthony:
A shading network is a collection of connected rendering nodes that defines how colors and textures contribute (usually with lights) to the final look of surfaces (materials).
A shading network typically consists of any number of connected rendering nodes plugged into a shading group node. (For more information about render nodes, see "Render nodes" in the help.)
A good portion of your time building shading networks is spent connecting node attributes to each other and adjusting node attributes to describe what a surface should look like and how it should be positioned.
To build shading networks, see "Overview of building shading networks" in the help.
Below is an attached picture from the help to better explain
Also, for more information on what a shader is, and how you make and apply them to your geometry, see the following chapter in the help:
-Rendering and Rendering Setup
---About shading and texturing surfaces
The gold icons signify detailed help.
The Blue icons signify tutorial-style instruction
Good luck, and welcome to the community!
Israel "Izzy" Long
Motion and Title Design for Broadcast-Film-DS