Generating procedural images has it’s advantages. The problem becomes getting procedurally generated textures to look realistic enough to work within the confines of 3D. That being said, any time that find an opportunity to use a procedurally derived image in 3D, sets yourself up for a much smoother way to work. Displacements typically are a great opportunity for a procedural workflow. Arvid Schneider walks through creating another procedurally sourced displacement map for Arnold Render, in creating a standard cobblestone pattern.
It is interesting to see Arvid work on creating the initial map for the cobblestone pattern, using alShaders’ Layering node, and locking the render view to show only the displacement node, and ignore everything else.
A few alFractal, alNoise and other nodes later, the cobblestone begins to emerge. Arvid has been showing how to create shaders for specific materials, which are quite helpful.
The Surface Database
Arvid has recently created a handy (and free) iOS app, that is a great reference for creating physically accurate shaders. The Surface Database offers real world reference images, and artist and scientific display of attribute values. The app is for beginners and professionals who want to create realistic looking shaders and materials for private or commercial use.