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First off all I use the metallic workflow and the following maps: Albedo, Metallic, Roughness, Height, Normal. And I have found many different ways to give my materials the scene of depth/height. And I'm sure there are some situation are better for some methods and others for other method. So my question is, what is the best way to do it and when would I use what. Maybe there are also some ways I didn't mention here.

(Blender)

  1. Height and normal map in Principled BSDF method +
  • Height map -> Bump node -> Principled BSDF node Normal map -> Normal Map node -> Bump node -> Principled BSDF node
  • works in Eevee/Cycles/Viewport
  • flat surface

2.Normal map in Principled BSDF method

  • Normal map -> Normal Map node -> Principled BSDF node
  • works in Eevee/Cycles/Viewport
  • flat surface

3.Height map in Principled BSDF method

  • Height map -> Bump node -> Principled BSDF node
  • works in Eevee/Cycles/Viewport
  • flat surface

4.Displace modifier method

  • Subdivide mesh + Displace modifier -> use height map texture -> reduce strength + Shade Smooth + Method 1./Method 2./Method 3.
  • works in Eevee/Cycles/Viewport
  • surface with height information

5.Displacement Material Output method

  • Height map -> Displacement node -> Material Output + Subdivide mesh + Material Properties Tab>Settings>Surface>Displacement Displacement and Bump + Method 1./Method 2./Method 3.
  • works in Cycles
  • surface with height information
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  • $\begingroup$ if you have a normal map you'll have to use a Normal Map node, if you have a height map you'll have to use a Bump node, the result will not be very noticeable between the 2 imho. For the moment it's most easier to bake the normals than the heights so it may be a typical reason why you'll have to use normals rather than heights, but, in another hand, you can create procedural bump. As for real or fake displacement, I think that if you can fake it it's always better. $\endgroup$
    – moonboots
    Aug 11 at 14:39
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So after testing many different ways with many different materials I have found out the best ways of doing it.

Flat Material

Base Color map -> Principled BSDF Metallic map -> “ Roughness map -> “ Normal map -> “

Material with height

1.

  • Base Color map -> “
  • Metallic map -> “
  • Roughness map -> “
  • Normal map -> “
  • Subdivide mesh
  • Displace modifier (select the height map and change strength)
  • Extra Cycles setting: Materials Properties>Settings>Displacement
  • Base Color map -> “
  • Metallic map -> “
  • Roughness map -> “
  • Normal map -> “
  • Height map -> Displacement node -> Material Output
  • Subdivide mesh
  • Extra Cycles setting: Materials Properties>Settings>Displacement

For the last 2, both are equally good however only one of them work with EEVEE.

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