One of the most fun, most powerful tools Blender has to offer is its Displacement features. If you haven’t heard of Displacement Mapping, its when you use texture maps to deform the polygons of your model according to the texture. There are two main ways to do displacement mapping in Blender, and in this article we are going to be exploring both.
For our first displacement effect, we are going to be using textures. These textures can be both procedural and premade texture maps. I will be using premade texture maps. I also will be using Blender 2.9 Cycles.
This type of displacement involves the displace modifier, so grab a plane and open the displace modifier. Next we will need to give our displacement modifier more geometry to work with, Tab into edit mode and hit W to open the specials menu. Next hit subdivide. Do this a couple times until you have a higher poly plane. (Fg. 1)
After you have done that, open up a Subsurface modifier to smooth things a little more. Then move the Subsurf modifier to the top of your stack, so it is above the displacement modifier. Finally you can hit ‘New’ on your displacement modifier, which will generate a new texture for your model. Click on the little black/white switch beside the texture name to go to the texture panel. Once in the texture panel, you can click the open button under the ‘node’ dropdown and select your texture map. Now you model will start to deform to your texture. Up the subdivision count if you want a more detailed displacement. (Fg. 2)
The second way that you can displace the polygons of you model is though the material editor. To do this you will need a model with a good polygon count, as well as your ‘Feature Set’ set on ‘Experimental’. You can find the feature set dropdown under the render tab in the properties menu. Next go into the materials tab and click on the setting dropdown at the bottom of the material properties. Set the displacement mode to ‘True’. (Fg. 3)
Now you can go into your node editor and add in an image texture node. Open up a displacement texture and set it to non-color data. Then run it through a bump map into the displacement input of the material output. Now you should have a working displacement map that only appears when you are rendering.
Well, those are the two best ways to create realistic displacement maps in Blender, comment below your favorite way to displace your models.
If you missed it, see yesterday’s post here.