A beginner's guide to displacement and bump maps

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If you’re new to CGI, you may feel that there are far too many tools to choose from in a dizzying array of software. By breaking everything in CGI down, I want to arm artists with the knowledge of which tool is best. With this in mind, let's explore materials and shaders by looking at bump and displacement maps. But first, let's look at why these maps are different to normal maps.

What's the difference between bump maps and normal maps?

In a previous article I looked at normal maps, which are a type of image map used to add extra detail to your models.

There are other image map types for adding details and relief to your 3D art: bump and displacement maps. These both use black and white imagery to create relief data for a model, making bump and displacement imagery far easier to create and manipulate in any 2D painting application when compared to the complex three-colour arrangement of normal maps.

The differentiation between bump and displacement maps is in how they display the relief.

How does bump mapping work?

Bump maps are one of the oldest form of image map types (normal maps are derived from bump maps), and

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