Vector Displacement Map Stamps In Mudbox
By Neil Blevins
Created On: May 21st 2010

Here's a tutorial on how to create and use VDM stamps inside Mudbox 2011. VDM stands for Vector Displacement Maps, which can displace in directions other than the face normal. This allows you to produce a lot of stamp shapes you couldn't before. For more info on VDMs and Non-Linear Displacement, see my Non Linear Displacement In 3dsmax lesson.

This tutorial assumes you've used mudbox before and have some basic understanding of using regular stamps.

1) Download this single face plane obj file. We will sculpt our stamp using this mesh.

2) Open Mudbox 2011, and Import the obj file into your scene.


3) Subdivide the mesh a number of times so you have more mesh detail to use.


4) Using the normal sculpting tools, make a shape, something that has an undercut to it (See the Non Linear Displacement In 3dsmax lesson for a definition of an undercut).


5) Now with your object selected, go to Maps -> Extract Texture Maps -> New Operation -> Vector Displacement Map. Use the following settings....


Save the file to your "Stamps" directory. Notice how it automatically places a "_vdm" at the end of your filename, so you know this is a vdm map.

Hit "Extract", and it will create the vdm map.

6) Save your mudbox file, as you may want to go back to it later and make modifications.

7) If you want, check your vdm map with an image viewer, I like checking it just to make sure the result isn't garbage. It should look something like this. The different colors represent both directional and magnitude information.


If your image instead looks black, it's possible your image viewer can't see 32bit Floating Point Tiff images (ie, the image is probably fine, it's the viewer that's the problem). Something like Photoshop CS4 or 5 will view the images properly. You can also view it in the Image Browser from inside mudbox.

8) In the mudbox interface, go to the "Stamp" tab, click the sideways arrow and say "Add Stamp".


9) Choose your vdm file. The stamp is added to the toolbar.


10) Now you can use the stamp with the sculpt tool like any other stamp on a new piece of geometry, except this type of stamp will preserve the undercuts.


This is great for bubbles, rock spires, and all sorts of other details. Here's an image I made using a similar vdm stamp...



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