Tutorial / Creating V-Ray displacement maps from hi poly tiling geometry

UPDATE : Zip file with illustrations & max 7.0 files can be downloaded here.

This tutorial is about making a displacement map out of complex geometry that can be then applied to any object, no matter his curvature (with the VRayDisplacementMod for example) to recover the hi poly look of the original tiling.

First, start by making a hi poly model of the module you want to tile, for this tutorial we’ll take a a roof tile. Turn the smoothing of the object off to get a better visual feedback of what will the future Z depth pass look like. Don’t hesitate to go very high poly cuz the purpose here is to transform all this in a useful displacement map who doesn’t care about poly count ;)

©2007 image pixelab.be

Then tile your object in a 4×4 array for example. It is important to keep the array on a virtual horizontal plane to get better results.

©2007 image pixelab.be
Then make a vertical Max Camera above your horizontal array. Tick “orthographic projection” and “environment ranges” Adjust the cropping with the focal length until you get at least one complete element in the frame. Then measure the best near and far range within the viewport ( 100 cm & 110 cm in our example) to get the best result of the future Z-depth pass.

©2007 image pixelab.be

Before rendering, activate a Z-depth render element in the “Render elements” tab within the rendering window, and copy the ranges in the 2 fields at the end of the scroll down menu. Hit render !

©2007 image pixelab.be

At the end of the rendering you’ll get a nice Zdepth window that will pop with his B&W content. Save only this one in PNG. After an auto-level to get true white & black points, crop it in photoshop or any image editing program. Try to be precise enough to get a perfect tiling. You can check the correctness of you tiling with the offset effect in photoshop. If everything is seamless, the texture is ready to use !

©2007 image pixelab.be
On a flat surface with VrayDisplacementMod:

©2007 image pixelab.be

But it also works on any strange surface ;)

©2007 image pixelab.be

C&C are welcome


  1. [align=left][/align] helle everybody
    I’m trying to create a vray displacement material what i can use to create the threat concret structure used in the famous Tod’s building (Architecture from Tadao Ando).
    There is a picture of the project. http://www.archidose.org/Blog/ito-tods.jpg
    I assigned to a cylinder wallmy displacement texture but
    I’ve got trouble with the displacement. I ‘m sending to you a picture of the trouble http://nuera.free.fr/img/essai.jpg
    there is the displacement mask. http://nuera.free.fr/img/arbre.jpg
    Maybe someone could find a solution…
    Thanks a lot.

  2. i think (not sure though .. that your problem is that the edges of your map are jagged .. maybe not high res. enough .. but again thats just me .. i am still a noob in 3Ds Max

  3. Thats just one problem: The border of roof appears with no thickness, when we sow the house from behind, its more noteable. Iis that a way to solve-it?

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