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What is the difference between the following two node setups?

enter image description here enter image description here

I was hoping to use the mix shader as a scaler, but it's not behaving as I'd expect..

Here are the render results:

enter image description here enter image description here

The "direct" line is much stronger than the one going through the mix shader.

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This is because you are using a Mix shader (Add node > Shader > Mix).

This does not work because:

  • A color output (yellow socket) is not a valid shader input (green socket).

  • A shader output (green socket) is not a valid value input (gray socket)

If you instead use a Mix RGB node (Add node > Color > MixRGB), it will work as expected:

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

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There are several ways to control the displacement based on an image. Try Color Mix, RGB curves, Contrast, Hue saturation, bright contrast. they all do different things. It all depends on what you're after. The Converter-Math will also affect displacement, and even a color ramp..

You have to experiment and find what works for you.

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