Vertex Displacement Mapping using GLSL

vertex displacement
Vertex Displacement Mapping or simply Displacement Mapping is a technique allowing to deform a polygonal mesh using a texture (displacement map) in order to add surface detail. The principle is not new, it is even the basis of number of terrain generation algorithms (see the Terrain Generator GLUT project). The new thing is the use of the GPU to achieve in real time the mesh deformation.

The displacement mapping involves a graphics controller that supports Shader Model 3.0 norm. Currently, all nVidia Geforce 6xxx and higher based graphics controllers are SM 3.0 complient as well as the latest ATI Radeons X1800 and X1900. To be more accurate, we have to access at least to one texture inside the vertex shader in order to make displacement mapping working. The access to a texture inside the vertex shader is called Vertex Texture Fetching. The shader model 3.0 imposes that at least 4 texture units are accessible inside the vertex shader.

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