Ear tangent space vector displacement map from Mudbox
Polygon plane displaced with ear vector displacement map

 

Traditional displacement maps are not used for any surface change that is not perpendicular to the base mesh’s polygons. Vector displacement maps can displace in directions other than the face normal, which is much more flexible. Vector displacement uses the color channels that specify a vector in a certain space to displace the vertices of the geometry in that direction and magnitude.

The ear vector displacement map can be downloaded here. The scene file can be found here.

 

 

Ear.exr vector displacement map connected to vector_displacement shader

 

 

 

Input

Connect the vector displacement map to this input.

Tangent Space

Specifies if the input is in world space or tangent space.

Normal

The normal and tangent parameters can be optionally linked to define a custom tangent coordinate system that the input is transformed from. If the normal is not linked, it will use the default surface normal.

Tangent

The tangent map. Together with the shading normal, it defines the tangent coordinate system that the input vector applies to. If available from your sculpting tool, you should connect here the tangent map that the normal map relies on. If 0, the shader attempts the following actions to build the frame:

  1. Look for vector user data named "tangent" and "bitangent".
  2. Use the UV derivatives.
  3. Build its own local frame.

The shader works in tangent space only. If your tangent map was exported in either world or object space, you can instead use the more generic space_transform shader.

Order

Lets you shuffle the input channels order.

Invert X/Y/Y  

If enabled, inverts (1-channel) the selected input channel. 

Color to Signed

Controls the amount of displacement. Displacement height can have either positive or negative values. This attribute only applies with normal displacement. You can use this value to compensate for any inconsistencies between the exported displacement map and the low-resolution geometry.

Scale

Controls the amount of displacement. Displacement height can have either positive or negative values. This attribute only applies with normal displacement. You can use this value to compensate for any inconsistencies between the exported displacement map and the low-resolution geometry.

 

 

 

 

Further example: Sea waves are displaced using a vector map (right)

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