Analytic displacement mapping using hardware tessellation

Matthias Nießner, Charles Loop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Displacement mapping is ideal for modern GPUs since it enables highfrequency geometric surface detail on models with low memory I/O. However, problems such as texture seams, normal recomputation, and undersampling artifacts have limited its adoption. We provide a comprehensive solution to these problems by introducing a smooth analytic displacement function. Coefficients are stored in a GPU-friendly tile-based texture format, and a multiresolution mip hierarchy of this function is formed.We propose a novel level-of-detail scheme by computing per-vertex adaptive tessellation factors and select the appropriate prefiltered mip levels of the displacement function. Our method obviates the need for a precomputed normal map since normals are directly derived from the displacements. Thus, we are able to perform authoring and rendering simultaneously without typical displacement map extraction from a dense triangle mesh. This not only is more flexible than the traditional combination of discrete displacements and normal maps, but also provides faster runtime due to reduced memory I/O.

Original languageEnglish
Article number26
JournalACM Transactions on Graphics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Catmull-Clark subdivision surfaces
  • GPU


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