UV mapping question

I have been working on a model of a ship, which requires indents to show the location of hull plating edges, and that of doors. Annoyed with doing loop cuts and scaling those in to make the indents, i am turning to UV which is what someone had suggested. First off, is there a tutorial that explains how to map a black and white image to a mesh so that the black portions distort the mesh?
Secondly Is there a way to map an image to create a hole in a mesh(for round windows)?
Any help is appreciated, thanks

I think if you look in the wiki through google, you could look up uv displacement mapping and transparency related to alpha and z-trans enabled materials.

The bump mapping or displacement involves mapping the image texture to your mesh and loading it in the texture channels, and having it affect ‘nor’ or ‘disp’ with the sliders to modify the geometry or surface - the base geometry would need subdivision to make use of complicated textures.

The use of a texture to affect the alpha of an object mesh can be done the same way: load the image in the texture channels of the material, and tick ‘alpha’ to see the effect - you may need to tick ‘use alpha’ under the image panel where you selected the image as a texture.

You can search the forum here for these terms and find quite a bit on these topics.

I am unable to find anything specific enough in the manual. I have no idea what to do once i load the mask. after that I understand how to turn it on, but once it’s on, how do I set the displacement? for example, how do i make sure that the image map doesn’t bring the mesh in 40 blender units, or 0.004 blender units? or for that matter, brings it in the opposite direction. Does anyone know of one off hand that will be specific enough?

The best way to learn is to intentionally make a blind action, observe the result, and then make another attempt under new circumstances.
I learned how to manipulate textures by playing with the sliders in the map to panel under the material functions - by dragging the displacement slider when ticked above, the result changes in strength incrementally. I believe there are references in the wiki to the use of blurred edges for smooth transitions, and sharp edges for abrupt changes. Solid grey would be level, and solid white would be one direction, and black to the other I think.
There is definitely a great deal of information more detailed and more accurate than what I’m saying, but I’ve learned to just play with the effects on simple examples with small render sizes until I get the effect I am looking for - then I apply the knowledge to the actual project I am hoping to improve.