What is Parallax mapping?

What's that picture up there? I already wrote this on my old blog. But to be able to post the cool shots again, and to write a short explanation for people without a lot of 3D background, I'll explain it here. It is parallax mapping, a currently quite popular 3D technique I've tried out and which will be implemented in the next version of Irrlicht. So what's so cool about it? Look at the screenshot. Do you see the bricks? They are not really there. In fact, they are just painted on a texture. In the scene, there are only about 8 triangles. Not about 1000 as you would expect. Parallax mapping lets the bricks look as they were real 3d objects in the wall, not flat and boring as they are painted in 2D on the wall. Take a look at the difference.

With parallax mapping:

Without parallax mapping:

Simply makes everything look cooler without the need of creating lots of geometry. And of course it is less work, for artists and the gpu. BTW: Thanks to Terry Welsh for allowing me to use his textures in Irrlicht.

six comments, already:

Looks impressive, Does it have a large hit on performance?
And will the .net version be see’ing any of this soon?
Specis (link) - 11 04 05 - 17:28

Yo Niko… is this going to be in Irrlicht 1.0 ???
Saurav Mohapatra (link) - 11 04 05 - 19:25

In the next version, yes. About .net: don’t know yet. But I think yes.
niko - 11 04 05 - 22:10

Niko, extremely nice ! But what about some specular lighting option ? For metal sci-fi surfaces, dungeon wet walls ,moist organic flesh ,glass , porcelain etc ?
Dood - 11 04 05 - 22:53

it is much more foggy when parallaxmapping is turned off, so parallaxmapping clears your sight! that’s way cool!
jpezorg - 11 04 05 - 23:06

Nice screenshots. I think parallax mapping will be very useful feature. Waiting for more cool features on Irrlicht engine:)
Ittallas - 12 04 05 - 18:05

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