Join Aaron F. Ross for an in-depth discussion in this video Deforming surfaces with a displacement map, part of 3ds Max: Advanced Materials.
- [Voiceover] A bump map, or a normal map, achieve the effect of fine surface detail, or relief. But they don't actually deform the surface, they don't change the shape of the model. On the other hand, a displacement map does. It deforms the model by moving the vertices according to the brightness level of an input map. We'll use a displacement map to impart a subtle asymmetry or chaos to the Athena body model. Let's open up the material editor, And we've got our body physical material here.
And it currently has no displacement map feeding it. Let's use the displacement output of this substance. Click and drag from displacement on the substance map, over to displacement map on the physical material. And a new output selector map is created in between them. Double click on its thumbnail and it looks like we've just got a flat grey field here. This is the default behavior of substance. It doesn't actually output anything at this displacement output here.
Let's go into the substance material parameters. Double click on the label, and in the material parameters, you'll see something labelled 'relief balance'. And that's the balance between displacement and bump, or normal. And at the default value of 32, all of the relief information is being sent into the bump and normal channels, and none of it is being sent into displacement. If we use a low relief value of let's say two, that should illustrate what's gonna happen here.
With a low value, we're sending the balance to the displacement channel. And we've got a noise pattern that's pretty high frequency here. If we look in the bump or normal, there's still something there, and it's also very high frequency, but it's kinda dimmed out and hard to see. What's a good value for this? I'm gonna split the difference here with a relief balance value of 16. And that gives me a low frequency displacement, and a high frequency bump or normal channel.
If we render this now, we will see a displacement. But we won't see anything in the viewport until we add a modifier. Let's do that. I'll minimize the material editor. Select the Athena body object. Go into the modify panel. And in the modifier list, choose world space modifiers, displace mesh WSM. As soon as you add that, the model goes crazy, because the displacement amount is up too high.
Let's go back into our material editor. Double click on the physical material. Scroll down in the material parameters, and reduce the displacement amount to point zero three. And then go back to the modify panel, and click update mesh. To see the effect of displacement turning on and off, Let's pin the stack. Click on the push pin icon. And then deselect the object with control D.
Then we can toggle this eye icon to see the difference between no displacement, and some displacement. And as you can see, displacement is pushing all the vertices outward. And when we do it this way, that's our only option. We can't actually push vertices inward at all. But we can make adjustments to the displacement map itself. Go back to slate, and we can pipe this displacement map through an output map. Here it is under maps general output, drag that over.
And then pipe the map output selector into the output. And then the output, into displacement. Double click on those thumbnails to maximize them. Double click on the output map label to load it into the material parameters. And in the output section, we can crush the blacks by bringing the RGB offset value into a negative range. Set that to a value of negative point five and press enter. And now you can see we've crushed those blacks down.
And we've actually lost all the detail in that area of the noise. Let's bring this up, let's brighten that a bit, by increasing the output amount to three, and press enter. Now we've got a pretty high contrast noise pattern, and it does correspond to this other noise pattern. This is a very high-frequency high-detail one. And this is a low-frequency low-detail pattern, that's suitable for our simple displacement. We'll go back to the modify panel, and click update mesh.
And then we can toggle the state of that displace mesh binding modifier. So there it is with it on, and off. We've just added a little bit of subtle displacement to make it not perfectly symmetrical. And that's the most basic way to apply displacement in 3DS Max. There are more complicated ways involving subdivision displacement, but in this case all we need is just to deviate the position of the existing vertices just a little bit.
- Streamlining material editor workflow
- Managing XREFs and materials
- Laying out a scene for material testing
- Using the Physical Material
- Controlling highlights with Roughness
- Directing reflections and refractions
- Simulating translucency and scattering
- Building a shading network
- Combining and color correcting maps
- Baking maps such as ambient occlusion
- Procedural mapping with Substance
- Using relief maps: bump, normal, and displacement