Lee Griggs shows how to render a poly mesh as a volume and displace it with a texture map
A volume displacement in Arnold is a very common and easy way to add detail. A popular feature of this program, called “volume attributes,” lets you convert your mesh object into something that looks like it has been deformed by pressure waves or an alien force field – all with just changing the step size under its volumetric settings!
Sometimes, you just need to adjust the volume padding in order for there be some awesome results. Check out this video by Lee Griggs showcasing his experiments with Arnold Volume-Displacement feature!
If you haven’t, then I would highly recommend that you take a look at these incredible details and stunning render quality. The volume experiments are Macro photographs of tiny worlds with the most detailed textures imaginable!