Image Displaced Mesh

So I was just messing around with some modifiers on a simple subsurfed plane when I noticed that the displace modifier has an RGB to XYZ option. I loaded up an image and applied it as a texture to see what would happen and I thought it came out really cool!
So far all the renders I’ve done have been a plane with 11 subsurf levels and displace on top rendered using ambient occlusion, but I’m considering trying cycles and using different types of materials as well.

That’s a really fun exploration. I enjoy them all but the last one keep my eye going back. First is most imaginative, second, most like a videogame background where the level end boss is waiting.

That is very interesting. Have you figured out any rhyme or reason to it yet? The second one really does look like surreal glacial terrain.

Basically what is happening here is that the more colour/brightness a pixel has, the farther it will be pulled along the positive XYZ axies, the opposite happens with dark pixels. This is why the colour is kind of layed out from brightest to darkest and lined up kind of like a rainbow (specifically the first image).

Here’s a new image, which is taken directly above the plane in orthographic mode, as you can see at the top the geometry is not changed as much since it is darker. This one also has a bit of post-processing in it to bring out the colours since it was just a boring image of clouds (and it doesn’t really have a focal point unfortunately)

I was attempting recently to do a similar (non abstract) thing using colourful topography maps, but had ended up composting them to grey scale. Another button to try pushing…

As these are though, it looks really quite neat and surreal. I would be interested to see your original colour textures.

Very neat Benjiken. I was going to say that it looked as though the Value of each pixel in the image determined the degree of displacement (Higher Value = Greater Displace). I’m curious as to what, if any, role Hue or Saturation plays into the displacement. Does a bright red pixel, for instance, displace the mesh differently than a bright blue or bright green pixel? Very cool results though.

I did some more testing with this and I think I’ve figured it out pretty well. Basically brighter red values goes farther along the x axis, brighter green along y, and brighter blue along z. This image here shows it off pretty well.

Changing the hue would simply result in the geometry getting pulled in a different direction. Higher saturation pulls vertices more along the axies, instead of along the diagonal. No saturation, or grayscale, would pull all vertices straight through along the diagonal (straight out of the screen in respect to the image above). Brightness is kind of boring as it seems to just move all of the geometry along that diagonal.

Here’s a new image using this image from pixabay:
The straight image was used as the displacement and the colours were manipulated in the compositor.

Those are pretty sweet. I might try something like that out…

It’s suprisingly simple to make these things. Add a plane, UV unwrap, import a texture, add many levels of subsurf, apply the texture to the displace modifier and material, check ambient occlusion and render!