No answer provides a more accurate result as conveniently as this one; and the source code for the soluton is provided. This will be a complementary answer about other directions you could take. First a filter based approximation of the pattern - like a crystalize effect as suggested by another contributor - like so:
- a fill color for the canvas (yellow or a yellow-orange-red gradient)
- a foreground color very close to the selected color or the gradient
Filter/Distorts/Mosaic using triangles:
- increased size, height, color variation, decreased neatness, check
FG/BG lighting to have our FG color for the mesh lines
- optional(bottom part of the image) -
Filter/Light and shadow/Lighting effect; add light source(s) close to/on the canvas(see also
This ends up being an experience about the relationship between a mesh and light in the search for a perfect matte.
If you want to explore further tesselation from the programmatic angle, you may find that using height fields like you suggested may not be the best way, but you should by all means try it; and you can.1
You may find interest in some related fundamentals such as the Voronoi diagram (and note that the Delaunay triangulation is sort of an instance of the Voronoi principle). Searching using such mathematics related terminlogy will allow you to find lots of building blocks for doing all sorts of tesselated graphics.2 To explore Voronoi cells hands on, you can try voro++; you can generate all the examples there in a manner of minutes and trace them. There is no doubt this is used in 3D print. But consider in particular the complicated degenerate vertex example; the cells are randomly generated every time.
As for POVray tracing itself, you can play with meshes and rapidly identify useful constructs. Vector graphics related concepts are used (coordinates) and whatever the framework, the level of abstraction is high so anyone who has a basic understanding of geometry in space can leverage the basics. Once again, Processing is useful here imho to provide a tight environment with no setup and wrap mathematics (short of using Mathematica etc.) and extract images!
These should provide an unlimited supply of patterns for generating assets.
1. The goal is to find enabling solutions which provide content easily which can then be incorporated into your workflow. I am not a developer. Many samples and free content are provided so that someone doesn't need to start from scratch; it's easy to take an example and modify it and see the result and repeat until very intricate and unique patterns are generated for you convenience and displayed using the exact perspective/camera angle you want. Such an approach is made easy with "tools" such as Processing or POVray tracing for instance. For scene/portrait tesselation, see this for other solutions.
2. In general, don't miss Paul Nylander's Math Art page. and F.A. Lohmuller's POV ray tracing tutorials & material. See also Voronoi experimental work on POVray and advanced applications for context. For an artful exploration of planes/surface see this which also serves as a reminder that lots of new ideas have emerged in the last 20 years in the field of mathematics.