Bump vs Displacement Map in 3Ds Max with V-ray 5

ADMEC Multimedia Institute > Architecture & Interior > Bump vs Displacement Map in 3Ds Max with V-ray 5

Hello there, in this blog, I am going to discuss about bump and displacement mapping in 3DS MAX with V-ray 5. The scene is extremely simple. I have this simple plane named wall of 10’x10’ and one V-ray physical camera and a V-ray dome light to light the scene.

Bump mapping and displacement mapping in 3Ds Max

So, what is Bump mapping and what is Displacement mapping and what’s the difference between these two. The main difference between bump mapping and displacement mapping is that a bump mapping is just an illusion that won’t alter the actual surface but just changes the surface normal to add detail to the surface but displacement mapping actually changes and modifies the actual surface and vertices and it’s much more realistic compared to bump mapping.

Now I’ll show you, how we can set up bump and displacement mapping. Open up the material browser by pressing “M” on viewport or go to rendering tab and then simply click on Material editor. You can choose between Compact material editor and Slate material editor. I used slate material editor here.

Material Editor in 3Ds Max


This simple Vray material #19 is the material that we have applied to our wall. You can use any of the material or image of your choice. Now we can start with our first map which is bump map. If you select your Vray material and come down to the Maps rollout, we have this bump slot that allows us to specify a black and white map as our map and control the strength of the bump mapping using this value here.

So, click on the no map button for the bump map. Choose Maps > Vray > Vray bitmap and select the texture (the bump map image) you want as the bump map. Here, I chose brick texture for bump map.

Follow the given below images for reference.

Materials in 3Ds Max
Map Browser in 3Ds Max
Material in 3Ds Max

The black parts of the map are going to cause indentation and white parts are going to cause bump and the same thing is with displacement mapping when we are actually using a grayscale map to control our displacement. Now you can right-click on the material preview and choose open preview window. Before using bump map, the material was plain and now you can clearly see how the bump mapping is using the map to alter the surface or at least give us the illusion of alteration.

Bump Map with Material in 3Ds Max
Bump Map without Material in 3ds Max

Also, I have the bump amount which is by default set to 30. If I set it to zero there would be no bump mapping as you can see above.

Bump Map 60 Value in 3Ds Max
Bump Map 150 Value in 3Ds Max

If I use 60 or more like 150, you can see by increasing the value we are just making the effect to be more pronounced but we cannot make much change in our surface as bump mapping is just an illusion. Now let’s look at the wall renders with different values.

Bump Maps Values in 3Ds Max

In the first render, bump amount was 0. So, we have our clean object without any change. In the second render, bump amount was 30. Now we start to get little bit of those dents and bumps. In the next one, bump amount was 150. As you can see, we didn’t change the height. we just made the illusion more pronounced and more contrasting maybe and in the final render it was set to 200. So that’s all about bump mapping.


Now it’s time to discuss displacement mapping. For now, disconnect the map from the bump slot. There are three simple ways to perform displacement mapping in v-ray.

  • First, we can go to material maps roll out and choose a map for Displacement map below the bump map and give the value you want.
  • Second, it’s from the Vray material in the maps rollout you can simply define a displace map and control how much displacement you want using this value here after that you can refine your displacements by going to the render setup dialog and in the displacement rollout under settings tab to control the quality of your displacements mapping using these parameters here.
  • And the third way of performing displacement is going to be using via displacements modifier. Simply select your object in the scene Explorer and add of your displacement modifier. Now you can define your black and white displacement here and refine the effect using the parameters in panel.

For now, I can use the same map as the diffuse map or we can use different maps for other categories like diffuse map in diffuse and bump map for bump. Every map has different work nature. We can also create our own reflection, glossiness, bump and displacement map from a single image. Now get back to the material and connect our displacement map to the displace in maps roll out and set the displacement value to 1. Now we can render the scene in the render setup window.

Material Renders in 3Ds Max using V-ray
Material Render in 3Ds Max using V-ray

The above images are the renders with displacement value of 1 and 5.

In the next render I’ll increase the amount to 5 then maybe I can decrease or use appropriate value to get good results. As I increased the value, in the wall view you can clearly see that each time we are literally displacing the object vertices more based on the map that we have defined. Let me show you some another examples of displacement map.

Displacement Maps Values

Above you can see that there are 4 renders. The first one was done using Bump mapping to add detail to the scene without displacement map then the second one was done using same bump value but now the Displacement map value is 30. I increased the displace value gradually from 30 to 50 then last 100 because higher the value of displacement map will lead to uneven height as you can see in fourth render because previously, I said that displacement map works with height and changes geometry.

Bump and displacement in 3Ds Max

In the case of bump mapping, you see I have some details but if you take a look at the outline of the plane and the shadows you can see there are the exact same outline and the shadows of the original object. But in our second image with displacement mapping because we are actually modifying and generating geometry at render, you can see the outline has changed, the shadows are correct and we are really having a beautiful realistic render.

Bump mapping is really useful for small high-frequency details like wood grains and it’s a lot faster compared to displacement mapping but obviously displacement mapping is more suitable for getting larger alteration on our surfaces. So, that’s all about bump and displacement mapping in 3Ds Max with v-ray 5.

To learn 3Ds Max along with v-ray at advanced level, you can go for 3Ds Max training courses offered by ADMEC Multimedia. Here’s the list:

Author Introduction

Hi, this is Aman, I’m an architecture interior design student at ADMEC Multimedia. After working a lot on 3Ds Max and V-ray, I’ve decided to pick up an interesting as well as most confusing topic that is difference between bump and displacement mapping. Hope you have liked it.

You can check my architectural visualization projects as well as interior modelling projects for some ideas.

Thanks and keep reading.

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