I'm working on a pair of drumsticks for an up-close, photorealistic image. I tried making the normal map with some degree of success, but now I'm thinking that a displacement map might be better. However, every video I've seen shows someone making a displacement map from a plane, or from something using a multi-res modifier.

I went and modeled a low-poly drumstick, duplicated it, and sculpted in details with DynTopo, so no multi-res modifier. Is it possible to turn my sculpted details into a displacement map?

My blend file is in the link above, if anyone wants to poke around.


  • $\begingroup$ From what I know it is still not possible to bake the height, but what you could do is convert your normal map into height with a render image of your normal on a plane, make sure that the image you save is an OpenEXR format $\endgroup$
    – moonboots
    Commented Nov 4, 2020 at 6:30
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, I'll have to give that a go and see what happens. :) $\endgroup$
    – n0ah
    Commented Nov 4, 2020 at 15:09

1 Answer 1


There are ways of baking scalar/vector displacement maps from non-planar originals, in Blender, by using an intermediate bake of high-res shading-point positions and subtracting low-poly positions from them in a shader, using a corresponding UV map. But that's fiddly, and complicated.

As far as I can see, your sculpt is of surface details. (Mainly dinks from rim-shots?)

I'm assuming either you want a low-poly final, in which case your height-map will be used as a bump texture (the geometry would not support displacement), or you want low-poly geometry, and the renderer to generate the subdivision for true displacement...

In either case, I think it would be easier, for this kind of detail, to use a low-poly mesh in the first place, without going through an all-round sculpt? You could texture-paint straight into a height-map, (while seeing the results), use and manipulate ready-made scratch-maps, or, if you're looking for paricular 3D characteristics, sculpt into a flat surface, bake that, chop bits of the image out to use in collage in your UV, or as texture-paint-brushes... any combination of these things, or others not mentioned here?

  • $\begingroup$ Yeah so one of my issues is I just don't know what my workflow is. I've been learning for about 3 months, but I want to go for photorealism with this scene. I wanted a close-up shot, that focuses on the sticks, so I was planning on having all the dinks and dents, and grooves in the stick (from rim shots and whatnot) and then adding some slight discoloration or dirt or something in there. Same with the bead of the stick. However, I just don't know which workflow is best for a situation like that. $\endgroup$
    – n0ah
    Commented Nov 4, 2020 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ Since it's going to be a close up shot, it would be cool to have as much real detail as possible... but then since it's a small object, it would also be good to have it low-poly so i can add it as a filler object in another scene somewhere. $\endgroup$
    – n0ah
    Commented Nov 4, 2020 at 15:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Hey, @n0ah :). In that case, perhaps having two versions would be easiest. One 'hi-poly' for closeups (you just can't beat real detailed geometry) and another one with baked details (like normals maps) for background shots. It's a common practice :). $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 4, 2020 at 21:14

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