In Illustrator you can make blends between two curves (i.e., transfer for a preset number of steps one to another), but it worked well only with simple cases is best when curves are the same number of points; in complex cases the quality is unacceptable. In addition there is mesh'and such, but I'm at a loss to describe how they work :) Not like you, definitely. And Yes, it's all vector. About photoshop or other raster editors, I have not heard, however, I haven't worked in this area.
A useful thing, especially for cards. Once painted bump map for the map the contour lines manually, pretty boring job. But without cards soft gradients between arbitrary spots, in my opinion, very valuable thing; think about a patent.
A sample of the algorithm no? That's at least on your example.