I am sorry, I am really unexpericed with Blender although I tried to put some time into it. So essentially I want to create something like this:

enter image description here

From a Digtial elevation Model (DEM) that is a simple image going from black to white. Like this:

I tried a lot of options and I am a little lost. I am coming from the gis world, so this is really different to me. I followed this excellant tutorial to create a shaded relief.


But I would really like to show the edges and vertices. So my current steps are more or less:

  1. add a plane
  2. Subdivide it by ~100 cuts (instead of using the adaptive subdivision as in the tutorial)
  3. Select the Cycles Render engine
  4. Add a new material
  5. Set Displacement to: "Displacement Only"
  6. (Maybe add a vector displacement)
  7. Turn on Freestyle under render properties
  8. Select color etc. for edges...

But now I really do not know if this is the right approach and how to proceed. I'd be thankful for any tip or pointer to a ressource. I saw this video here:



I think the key is the rendering of the wireframes. However, I yet did not find a way to do this for a simple black and white image like the above one. In case anyone has a good starting point I'd be super grateful!:)

The thing is the subdivision surface (sorry this is certainly not the correct wording) is not 3d. Its just flat...

I can select all edges and say "Mark Freestyle Edge", but it will just be an "Overlay":/

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Hi :). Small cheating, but you could just project a grid texture on top of the terrain $\endgroup$ Sep 12, 2021 at 18:32
  • $\begingroup$ thanks a lot!:) I'll try that for sure $\endgroup$
    – Lenn
    Sep 13, 2021 at 10:14
  • $\begingroup$ Just a note ... current shader solutions can't fully mimic your reference image - the thickness of all edges is even for front and back lines independently on depth, that result with more white surface on horizon ... that is not happening with shaders using textures. $\endgroup$
    – vklidu
    Sep 22, 2021 at 19:33

2 Answers 2


I've found two way to do this, depending on whether you want to render EEVEE or Cycles.

The part that works for both is how I impose the grid on the display, so I'll describe it first.

The trick is to use a brick texture with settings similar to this:

Brick texture

The important settings that I've changed are

  • Offset: should be 0
  • Color1: is the "brick" color. For a black background, set it to black.
  • Mortar: is the grid line color. For white grid lines, set it to white.
  • Bias: Should be -1. This means that all of the "bricks" will have Color1 as their color.
  • Scale: should be chosen so to be a multiple of the number of subdivision lines in your grid. For my example, I've subdivided the grid into 10 sections, so a scale of 20.0 gives me grid lines on the division edges and also between those edges.
  • Mortar size: set it small. It sets the width of your grid lines.

Simply plug this into the color input of your shader.

For either EEVEE or Cycles, you can use this with a Displacement modifier, using your DEM data for the Displacement texture. For the example I just used a cloud texture.

Displace modifier

With this setup, the displacement is real, and you don't need a Normal Map for displacement.

For Cycles, you have the option of using the Displacement setting in the shader. Set the displacement Height input to your DEM texture and adjust the scale appropriately:

Displacement in the texture

In this case, the shader looks something like this, substituting your DEM image texture for my Musgrave Texture:

Shader for shader based displacement

Here's an example using my Musgrave texture:

Example using the Musgrave texture

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you so much! I really appreciate this a lot. I know this was a very naive beginners question. I will take some time these days and really go through your answer!:) $\endgroup$
    – Lenn
    Sep 13, 2021 at 10:17

You can easily create a wireframe texture and project it on top.

  1. Brick texture with 0 offset and 1:1 ratio for the grid
  2. Voronoi with Constant ColorRamp for the vertices
  3. Use UV coordinates to project it from top

Nice thing is, that line thickness and dot size is fully adjustable

enter image description here

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks so much! I will also try this on the weekend when I have a little more time:) $\endgroup$
    – Lenn
    Sep 14, 2021 at 16:50

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