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The increase in computing power that has become available to rendering artist over the past few years has turned what were once expensive effects in terms of the time taken to create them into essential daily use tools for adding quality and realism to our final renders. Render Time Displacement is one such effect. So let's run through setting up and controlling this particular effect in our V-Ray renders. We have as you can see our Displacement_Start scene file loaded. This consists of apparently three very unexciting spherical objects.
But, if we just pull up the Maya render view for ourselves, you can see a render that we have taken off the scene as it stands at this moment in time. But, we actually have some very interesting render time displacement taking place onto of our three objects. What we want to do now is run through getting displacement working using our third and as of yet on this place sphere. Now, the first thing we need to do is to apply a material that will work as a control mechanism, a displacement control mechanism to our piece of geometry. So let's just dismiss render view for ourselves and come up to the Window menu, Rendering Editors, and we're just going to pull up a Hypershade for ourselves.
And you can see in here, we have a Swirls material. This is the one that we're going to be using on this particular piece of geometry. So let's just first of all select the geometry, right-click, and use the Assign Material to Selection option. Now, we know that anything we do with this material will affect our piece of geometry. So we can just give ourselves a little bit of extra room here. What we want to do now is just graph this network because we are going to be adding a few extra nodes into this material shader network. First of which is going to be a new File node that we need to lapse on.
We're just going to Filter by file and then left mouse-click and up that in there. With the File node selected, we can just come and browse for our controlling displacement map, so just click on the folder icon. We do need to be inside the Images folder of our Exercise Files and if we come all the way down to the end, you can see we have this Swirl_Displacement.jpg file. This, as you can see, is a grayscale map that will give us differing levels of displacement on our piece of geometry. So if we just choose the Open option, and of course, we may want to clean up our work area a little bit, so let me just click on the Rearrange Graph icon up on the top toolbar there and I am just going to middle-mouse scroll out a little bit just so we can see what is going on, hold the Alt key and pan across, because what we need to do now is connect our File node to our V-Ray Material.
To do this, we just middle-mouse click on the File node itself, then drag over to our V-Ray Material, release the middle-mouse button, and you can see now we have a number of connection types available. We, of course, want to choose Displacement Map. Now, if we want to check that everything is working correctly, we can come up to our input and output connections and you can see that our Displacement node is connected to our Shading group and that is exactly how we want things. Now, we can get rid of the Hypershade window and we can test whether or not our displacement is working.
So let's pull up Render view and we can just take a Region Render of our object and see how it is working. And, as you can see, things definitely are going in the right direction. Now, I just want to save the render that we have here because as we make changes to our displacement controls, we're going to want to just compare how that is affecting our piece of geometry. Well, now let's have a look at one set of controls that we can use inside of V-Ray for handling our displacement effect. So let's come up to the Render Settings window icon, open the window up, and we need to come into the Settings tab.
In here, you can see we have this Default Displacement and Subdivision rollout that has a number of control parameters we can work with, perhaps the most important of which will be this Edge length value. This determines how long the longest edge in our Displacement and Subdivision effect can be. At this moment in time, with the View dependant option checked, we are working in pixels, so 4 pixels is our maximum allowable edge length at this moment in time. If we uncheck this option, we would then be working in same unit, so you can imagine that would make quite a bit of difference to how our displacement effect was turning out.
What I am going to do is stick with View dependent and we're just going to work to make our current displacement settings quite a bit rougher than they already are. So let's set a very high maximum Edge length value of 25 in there. We have saved our render, so let's take a look at what kind of a difference that would make. Well, hopefully, what you can see, as we compare our two renders, is that we now have much less definition in our edges. The displacement is looking nowhere near as clean. You can see we've not even got the same amount of displacement, and that is because really we have lowered the quality of its settings.
Now, working globally in this fashion is often times not the best way to handle render time effects, such as displacement. Often times, we would want to work locally with our geometry. If we have a number of displacement objects in the scene, we may want to work with different settings for each of them. Well, we can definitely do that. So let's just dismiss the Render Settings window, we need to just get rid of Render View as well for a moment or two. We need to select our same geometry and we need to make certain that we are working inside of the Shape node, because if we come up to our Attributes menu here, you can see we have a set of V -Ray options and in here, there are Subdivision and Displacement controls that we can work with.
Now, the first one we are going to add is this Subdivision and Displacement Quality option. Now you notice that my Extra V-Ray Attributes rollout hasn't appeared. If this happens to you, just go up to your Construction History, turn it off and then on, and you will see that rollout pop into view. If we take a look in here, you can see that we essentially have a set of controls that mimic our global options. The only difference is, these will affect only our currently selected object. That is, of course, if we have this Override Global Settings option checked.
To prove that this is indeed the case, I am just going to set our maximum Edge Length value here to a small setting of 1 pixel and we'll just demonstrate that this will now override our global control. So let's open up Render View for ourselves, make sure we save what we have and take another render. And again, as we compare the two images, you can see that we really are getting a much better level of quality out of our effect now. Let's add another set of Control attributes. Let's go back up to the Menu and this time we're going to add this Displacement control set.
Again, we may need to turn our Construction History off and on to get those to show up. Now, you can see we have quite a number of extra controls with which we can work. Again, one of the really important ones will be this Displacement Amount. Up to this point, we have only been getting a level of displacement according to the grayscale values in our control map. But now, with this value, we can actually increase or decrease the amount of displacement that we're getting. I am going to set this up to a value of 3, and again, we want to make certain that we save our render because you will see something very interesting now occurs.
You can see that not only have we increased the amount of displacement on the surface of our geometry but we have actually increased the geometry's overall mass in such a way as to push it outside of the boundaries of our region render here. Now sometimes, that can be a desirable effect, that maybe perfectly fine; other times, you may want to keep the relative size of our object in the scene, while still getting an increase in the amount of displacement. Well, we can do that using this Displacement Shift option. The way it works is we set a negative one-half value of our Displacement amount and we should return our object back more or less to its original size in the scene.
So let's set a value of -1.5 in here, so again, we want to save what we have and take a render to show how that will work in the scene. And as you can clearly see we have definitely reduced our geometry's size in the scene once again. In fact, if we go and get rid of this middle render, you can see that although we do indeed keep our increase in Displacement, the relative size of the object in the frame is pretty much as it was previously. So that Displacement Shift option can be a very handy one to work with indeed.
Well, we now have one final control that we want to add, and let's come up to our Attributes section once again and we're going to add this Subdivision control. Again, we'll just turn our Construction History off and then on and you see we get a set of options appended down at the bottom of our rollout here. Essentially, these now allow Maya to render this piece of geometry as a subdivision surface. Again, let's save what we have and see how that affects the overall quality of our effect. And you can see again as we compare these two images that we really have smoothed out the subdivision that we are getting from the system now, so that's looking very nice indeed.
One final control that we will look at, a very interesting option that we have with regard to Displacement is this Enable Water Level option. If we just enable that, and then set a value of 0.85 in here, what we can essentially do now is clip away the darker values in our displacement control map and create see-through areas of our geometry and in fact if we save what we have, we can demonstrate how that will work inside of the render. And, as you can see, we get a very interesting clipped piece of geometry. We have lots of see-through areas; the shadows really show us that the light is passing through this piece of geometry now.
That's a very interesting option that can be handy for creating some very interesting displacement effects. So using a map, be that a bitmap or a procedural, plugged into our V-Ray Material and as a displacement control and by adding some extra V-Ray attributes to work locally with our geometry, we are able to create some interesting and indeed very powerful Render Time Displacement effects.
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