How to use a Displacement map in Maya

A simple guide on adding a texture to a plane and including a displacement map.

We’ll start with a simple scene containing a plane an arnold area light:

Next we’ll open the hypershade by clicking the icon in the top shelf:

With the hypershade open, press TAB in the main area and create an aiStandardSurface node:

Download the 3 files below and place them somewhere you’ll remember, preferably in your maya project:

Drag the base colour texture (Seamless_Concrete_Texture_Texturise) into the hypershade and connect the out colour connector of the newly placed texture to the base colour connector of the aiStandardSurface node:

The texture will be applied in the preview panel:

Close the hypershade at this point, return to your workspace and press 7 on the keypad to use all scene lights, then open the ‘Shading’ menu and check “Hardware Texturing”:

You should now see the texture applied to the plane in the scene:

However with just a base texture this doesn’t look very real, lets add some more realism with the specular map.

Open the hypershade again and drag the Seamless_Concrete_Texture_Texturise_SPECULAR image file from your explorer window into the hypershade. And connect the specular texture ‘Out Color’ to the ‘Specular Color’ connector of the iaStandardSurface node:

Go back to the viewport and see the difference adding the specular map has made:

Looks much better!

Now to add the displacement map to our texture, there are a few steps to this one so I’ll break this down:

1) Drag the ‘Seamless_Concrete_Texture_Texturise_DISPLACEMENT’ file into the hypershade from your file explorer and connect the ‘Out Color’ to the ‘Displacement Shader’ of the standard surface ‘Out Color’ node:

At this point nothing with change in the viewport, but if you render you’ll see a total mess:

2) To fix this, select the plane we applied the texture to.

3) Open the attribute editor and select the ‘Arnold’ tab:

4) Expand the ‘Subdivision’ section:

5) Select ‘catclark’ from the ‘Type’ dropdown:

6) Increase the ‘Iterations’ value to 5 or 6 (depending on how detailed you want the displacement to be):

If you render again, you’ll see much more detail to the displacement, but it looks more like a mountain range than a concrete texture:

7) To reduce the height of the displacement, expand the next section titled ‘Displacement Attributes’ and change the height value to 0.02:

That’s it! if you render again you’ll see the displacement is much more realistic, and working together with the specular creates a really nice basic concrete (albeit a little wet looking).