View Full Version : Blending multi-displacement maps

02 February 2008, 06:33 AM
Hi all,

I got a question, I have been working on tests on attempting to blend two different displacement maps generated from one geometry in ZBrush (mod is all quads). I have read Taron's neckling forum many times but still feel left in the dark.

I was wondering if anyone has already conquered blending displacements in Messiah and if so, what is the best approach?

Also, has anyone messed with Texture Deformer shader with muscle bones yet?

I am attempting to decipher Taron's neckling scene and I see metaeffectors showing means of controlling the blending of displacement maps and even color textures.

What I did so far on my own tests

--for displacement

Created two displacement assets from ZBrush and added two texture map shaders to plug them into the min/max shader. From there I connected the min/max node into the object's receiving node under bump.
Made sure I assigned the Tiff (16 bit) displacement map as UV in the texture nodes.
Added in meta effectors and assigned it to the object through the weightlist (in setup of course).
Set up my effectors on the model.
Added in a weight spot node and plugged it into one displacement map to help alter the opacity.
Here is where I am stuck - cant figure out how to tie the metaeffectors to multiple displacement maps for control.
---for texture deformer

I added a skeleton tool under setup.
Added in bones and parented them to the skeleton tool.
After adding the bones, I made them into muscle bones.
Now under the Render tab, I added in the texture deformer shader.
In the TDef node is where you would select the tool which in our case, the skeleton tool with the previously added muscle bones.
Attached the TDef node to the object's receiving node under bump
Added in a texture map node and loaded the images through there, afterwards, I attached it to the TDef node.
Again--here is where I got stuck.
How do you control the texture deformer with your textures through the muscle bones and how do you blend multiple displacement maps with meta-effectors?

I wonder if I was suppose to group the skeleton tool with muscle bones first before I attempt to mess with the texture deformer.

Thanks to all who reply.


02 February 2008, 11:37 AM

I managed to like work on this scene til 5 am and finally, I figured it out. It was so simple, I basically had it right just linked a node to the wrong thing.

Now I have to figure out the Texture Deformer.

If things keep going this well, I just might make a tutorial out of this.

Anyhow, was going to share my test clip but mediafire for some reason was not working upon uploading the video.

I will come back on here to post it up once it works.

Any comments on the texture deformer shader, please feel free to provide your input.

Many thanks,


02 February 2008, 12:41 PM
I'd be very interested to see your tutorial and any input you have as this has been an area of interest of mine for a few years.

Could u provide a link to Taron's neckling forum.. or provide a link to the video u have?

02 February 2008, 01:39 PM
Please do... I have lots to learn about the renderer. B ut its really looking tempting!

02 February 2008, 04:34 PM
Kamakazi, we used Messiah with alot of displacements. Messiah is very very good with displacements especially from ZBrush. Messiah displace and bumps(for smaller details) at the same time so you get very nice look, and it is faassssstttt. If you have 64bit version(which is worth in my opinion) you will never worry about size of displacement and size of your scene-object.

Regarding how multiple displacements are used,

Bring your multiple dispmaps, attach to both to shaders`s bumps, i generally use latter with "+" sign (use it if your middle gray is %50) if you are using multiple dispmaps for same uv space and material. If they are seperate uv spaces then you can just let it stay at "=" sign. As far as masking textures you just need to use shader`s opacity input to block certain areas, so if you use weightspot value for another`s opacity it should work(it works here). You can remap those values to increase or decrease the effect. Also every shader has opacity option for quick fade in an out. If you want to use the weightspot for multiple maps just drag weightspot value to multiple map`s opacity. Shader nodes values can be plugged to multiple nodes and values.

I have not used texture deformer with muscles(yet). I will let you know once I try as well.

02 February 2008, 12:10 AM

Mediafire finally let me upload my test video.

Click here (

Now this test is purely just messing with two different displacement maps--one map is a mild deformation output while the other one shows more pronounced definitions. Don't pay attention to the edges where the limbs use to be, just wanted to tackle the technique knowing that holes in your geo is not good. You can tell when the torso does its first crunch is when more definition becomes intact. That is when I used the 2nd displacement map with more enhanced details.

Nevertheless, I will make a tutorial on using mulitple displacement maps and using texture deformer shader real soon.

I got the mulitple displacement to work and after I figure out the texture deformer bid, I will happily share the videos.

Gimme some time fellas, I am so close!

Thanks for the response.

Kursad, great input on the multiple displacment approaches. You are definitely right on how Messiah handles displacement maps generated form ZBrush very well. I will make definite use of your input too. Everything you mentioned as far as using metaeffectors and weight-spot node is exactly right (too bad I didnt get to read your input earlier-could of saved me some time).

I will post again soon, hopefully with new discoveries and tons of information to share with my fellow Messiah comrades.


Oh yeah almost forgot, here is Taron's neckling scene and displacement setup.

Taron-NecklingScene (
Setting up displacement (

Also try to view Taron's Siggraph demonstration in 2004--there is interesting rendering topics covered.

Long live Taron!

Now dont forget to visit Messiah Collective ( blog by bugpoo---Thanks a lot guy for setting that up--seriously.


02 February 2008, 12:27 AM
This is my unfinished personal project. I modeled and sculpted in Modo andZbrush , used Messiah for rendering rigging animation. The rig and basic cycle were done to test and see how the displacement worked on muscles. I have not done much tricky rig, very rough rig I would say. This is unfinished and I am just posting it to show possibilities with messiah-zbrush combo.

here is the test

here is how the rig looks (this was earlier version )

02 February 2008, 08:05 PM

Cool little WIP video. I like the face and feet the most. Since its a WIP, I will bite my tongue until a more finalized round comes about. You said you rendered it in Messiah, correct?

Nicely done! What shaders did you use on top of your maps in Messiah? Good test Kursad.

Keep it up, you definitely have some good assets archived. I love the Messiah and ZBrush combo, its a combination I utilize myself and it has not yet let me down on my goals.

Good stuff. Once again, thanks for posting and giving information on my previous situation.


02 February 2008, 08:25 PM
I used Messiah for rendering. Messiah renderer easy to setup and fast. It has some nifty shaders as well.

Here are some extra screenshots I had taken earlier,

02 February 2008, 10:05 PM
Thanks for sharing!

On texture map 5 - under map type, did you use multiple UV's or are they grouped UVs generated from ZBrush?

If confused, did you use AUV or GUV in ZBrush?

Nice, I like the approach and render setup. Keep it up:thumbsup:


02 February 2008, 10:10 PM
I think there are 2 uvs because there is a morph target in the setup, I just do not remember at the moment. But I think i was not using 2 colormaps.

I use AUV, and according to Taron that is the best option for Messiah. Messiah is handling thouse uv edges better than Zbrush.

It sounds like most people do not know how powerful Messiah can be. Certain things are tricky but rest is easy to use and powerful.

02 February 2008, 12:26 AM

So 2 UV's--that makes sense. Keep up the work, I think your shader flow for the skin is taking away from the detail of the displacement map(s). I first thought your model looked clumpy and at its beginning phases, but when I saw the ZBrush snap shot, I can tell there was more detail involved. Wouldnt have notice it in Messiah with all the shading effects going on.

Nevertheless, it is coming along nicely. Just stress on making your mod more proportional. With ZBrush's transpose tool, it will be easy. Have you tackled SSS approaches yet with this fine model?

So the almighty Taron said that AUV's work better. That is great to know. I figured out the hard way but still glad that I figured it out.

Kursad said:

It sounds like most people do not know how powerful Messiah can be. Certain things are tricky but rest is easy to use and powerful.

I totally agree. Messiah has so much power and the workflow for animation and rendering is simplified. I think this application is still entirely new to others and people have not yet caught up with the technological advances this program offers. Even if this program came out some time ago.

You are right on how Messiah handles ZBrush UV's and maps extremely well. It makes it easier to make your character work identifiable as characters and have those characters animated and rendered with pleasing results.

Well Kursad, it was an honor talking with you about your WIP and Messiah in general.

Goodluck on all your endeavors.


02 February 2008, 01:05 AM
There is some loss of detail (or loss of look) due to fact that I did not match exact displacement values(I was just testing various things ) and clumsy deformations that shows around shoulders especially and that happens because of unfinished rig. Also everything (including shading) is half finished really, Messiah bares very little responsibility in this.

I have some transluceny on the model that adds some thickness.

Nice thing about Messiah workflow is that modelling, rig, sculpting, texturing, animation, rendering can all go simultaneously, even if you change proportion or topology of your model. Readjusting your rig is so easy compared to other players. That is the main reason why I have choosen Messiah.

02 February 2008, 01:16 AM
Nice. I knew I bit my tongue for a reason. Hell of a test. That makes total sense with the topic of matching exact displacement values. I think we both chose Messiah for the same reasons and more.

Thanks again for sharing. Can't wait to see your work finalized.

You have yourself a wonderful day Kursad.



03 March 2008, 02:39 PM
cool discussion guys.. hopefully when my copy pf MS3 arrives I'll be able to add to it.

03 March 2008, 06:49 PM
i am also waiting for MSp3, and find this VERY helpful info.

Kursad in your image it looks like you are using AUV tiles?
Do you have to smooth the seams?
Have you tried using Normal Maps from ZB3.1?


03 March 2008, 07:20 PM
Yes I used AUV tiles from Zbrush. I did not need to smooth the seams at all, Messiah handles them very well. But zbrush is not even good at handling its own auv tiles as good as Messiah.

I have not tried normal maps from Zbrush.

i am also waiting for MSp3, and find this VERY helpful info.

Kursad in your image it looks like you are using AUV tiles?
Do you have to smooth the seams?
Have you tried using Normal Maps from ZB3.1?


03 March 2008, 07:37 PM
Oh yeah almost forgot, here is Taron's neckling scene and displacement setup.

Taron-NecklingScene (
Setting up displacement (


Fantastic! I've been looking for that.

Thanks! And keep this thread alive with your WIPS as you go... (You and kursad_pileksuz) this stuff is really looking way cool. This stuff reminds me why I picked up Messiah to begin with!


03 March 2008, 10:31 PM

Kursad is right about how Messiah handles AUV setups better than ZBrush. Only thing I would like to add/recap to save your self immense time is the following:

Make sure ALL of your model is in quads. Better to absolutely have no tri-polys and have a good topology for animation. Plus its better to have your basic model setup in that way for ZBrush's algorithm calculations for subdividing.
Use AUV's and take Group setting off of exported model (example-exporting the OBJ w/ AUV's applied).
Of course you can flip your displacement map vertically on "Y" before saving it as a 16-Bit Tiff for Messiah. You can also just flip it in Messiah if you forgot to do it in ZBrush.
Match your displacement values to ZBrush's values in Messiah
Use Texture shader & Min/Max node (set min to -1.0 and leave Max 1.0 alone) and pipeline it into your receiving node (lets call it skin node).
Select your default skin node (receiving node) and use Bump values to change the depth of displacement.
Multiple displacement maps can be plugged into the same Min/Max node and then plugged into your receiving skin node. Only to make use of your sequenced displacement maps, it is better to use MetaEffectors with a weight spot node to alter the opacity from one displacement map to another (as demonstrated through Kursad's wonderful snap shots).
Later you can tie all this to expressions on bones, armatures and sliders for animation control----Freakin Amazing!
The maps are seamless and the tiled information is better because no chance of scewing in the UVs is involved when you render.

I am sure I was a bit brief and left some things out but no worries, a tutorial will be covering this in due time.

For Normal mappage, I am attacking that one now for my current project. I would think the set up would be similar with minor settings to be aware of but I will post any discoveries and tests. Most definitely.

Just keeping the thread alive:deal:!


03 March 2008, 11:14 PM
"Match your displacement values to ZBrush's values in Messiah " ... r you refereing to the alpha depth value/factor like you use with maya? to get the ideal "strength" setting for the displament map

03 March 2008, 03:17 AM
Yes, of course! I usually just alter my settings in Messiah to when it looks how it was in ZBrush. You can be particular.


03 March 2008, 07:26 PM
Just posting up a response on this thread to keep it alive. I will post up more goods soon. Been busy with other projects.

Thanks for all who digged some of the undergoing work. All else who posted some WIPs on this thread, keep it up.

Take care all,


03 March 2008, 07:57 PM
yep hopefully i'll have somethin to show in a few weeks..

03 March 2008, 08:10 PM
Thats great news Spaz. Lets keep this thread alive. This will be a documented process of discoveries that will eventually lead up to tutorials. Fellow Messiah users are dying for more tutorials. Current artists that use this awesome program should share their knowledge and help gain the popularity this application needs.

I will post up some more tests with rendering techniques and some elaborate approaches upon integration.

Thanks for responding Spaz, we are eager to see some new goodies.

Anyone else that wants to share some of their work would be highly appreciated.



07 July 2008, 05:12 AM
Bump for liveiness

07 July 2008, 07:08 PM
Thanks for keeping the post going, look forward to any tutorials!

07 July 2008, 09:26 PM
I am deeply sorry fellas for such a delay on posting any new updates regarding to tutorials. I am so busy these days and been working on two major contracts.

One of the projects I am involved in is creating a MOD for a game that will be pipelined into CryEngine2.

The game is called "Eclipse" and the studio is called Digital Armada (Ron Richard - President/founder). We are working very hard to achieve great results for a high magnitude game.

IO Boss-Model. Modeled by BradJames:

Check out some snap shots of a quick head rig I've setup for one of the IO Bosses in Messiah...
We are working also with motion capture and all assets will be pipelined into Max to migrate work into the Cryengine 2 through Sandbox.

Once more achievements are archived, I am sure a series of tutorials will be established. I will be most proud to display all knowledge of the process once its apprehended in depth.

Just an update from a fellow Messiah user.

Thanks for the time and keeping this thread live.

All the best,


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