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I modeled a sheet of paper, lying on a table, as a plane. The initial result looked like a super-thin film stuck to the table. Usually, a piece of paper has both a little thickness and doesn't lie perfectly flat on a table.

So to get it not perfectly flat, I:

  • Added a subdivision modifier to the plane.
  • Wired a noise texture to a displacement node and connected that to the displacement input of the paper's material.
  • Set the displacement setting (under the material's settings section) to displacement only (and set the renderer to Cycles).

This produced a nice result but it was still clear the paper was infinitely thin. So I tried two things to give it a tiny bit of thickness...

First I tried adding a solidify modifier but this interacted strangely with the displacement resulting in uneven thickness (here I'm looking side-on at the paper, I've pumped up the thickness to make the effect clearer):

uneven thickness

I put the solidify modifier before the subdivision one (putting it after produced an even weirder effect).

Second I switched from a plane (with solidify modifier) to a very thin cube but this resulted in an even weirder look (with just subdivision and displacement):

thin cube

Any suggestions would be much appreciated. I'm not set on real thickness - something that produces a convincing illusion would be fine too (my paper is supposed to be a sheet of canvas, as you'd use for an oil painting, so it needs more thickness than a typical piece of paper).

I'm using Blender 3.0.1 and you can find my .blend file here.

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    $\begingroup$ The problem here is that a 3d texture will have slightly different displacement on the top and bottom face which can cause clipping. You might just be able to change to a 2d noise texture and use UV coordinates. $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2022 at 18:53
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    $\begingroup$ I'm wrong about this, it's worth an answer. $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2022 at 23:22

1 Answer 1

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Modifier Solution

The easiest solution is to use the modifier stack to do everything, since Solidify can be placed behind Displace to avoid the problem completely.

enter image description here

Here I used a Voronoi image texture generated using the Texture Properties menu.

enter image description here

Shader Solution

Using Vector Displacement we can tell the mesh to displace in a direction instead of displacing away from its center. Your modifiers can be in any order, so adaptive subdivision is usable here.

enter image description here

A few notes. The Vector Displacement node must be set to Object Space. I used a Map Range node so that the Noise Textures output would average 0, and this solves an issue with the displaced model migrating away from its orange outline (and representation in object mode). Also works with 2d textures if you do run into any clipping issues.

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