Generating 2D bump/displacement maps from 3d geometry

I’m wondering if there is any way in rhino of doing a reverse heightfield - ie taking a 3d surface and exporting it as a 2d bitmap heightfield. I’d like to model some textures using rhino that I can then export as bump or displacement maps that I can then use in other software.

anyone have any ideas?


Hi Ben - you can use the ShowZBuffer command for that.

There’s also a good plugin someone made here which improves the functionality.

will check out the plugin. using ShowZBuffer is problematic, as it seems to have a scaling bug where if you zoom out past some threshold point, the display goes from (more or less) correctly showing the heightfield in greyscale, to the surface whiting out completely. Thankfully it appears you can get a zdepth only render out of Rhino Render whis does the job. both ShowZBuffer and Render ZDepth dont work completely though. neither produce properly smooth gradients. there are stepping artefacts and what appears to be a kind of clamping going on. the image below is the ZDepth resulting from intersecting a bunch of spheres randomly distributed in a plane, with a flat surface. as you can see the gradient is not what it ought to be.

when converted to a normal map for texturing, this becomes even more obvious:

To me, off the bat, that looks like it could be because of a coarse render mesh? Try making a dense render mesh of it perhaps?