High Poly to Low Poly: Did it work?
And a really good art breakdown
Become a better 3D artist in 5 minutes each week.
By Samuel Sullins
I just closed Blender.
I was trying to find a way to break an Icosphere into a bunch of floating triangles. I did figure it out, too. (Use modifiers: Edge Split and Smooth.)
But I kept going. I didn’t want to throw away the project, it looked neat—I just wanted to get a little render out of it.
So I made it render-worthy:
Smoothed, extruded, and beveled everything
Added some glass (my favorite way to make any scene cooler)
Used the Wave modifier to make a great big ripply backdrop
Added lighting with the Sky Texture node
And I got a pretty nice (if simple) little render:
Cycles, low samples, heavily denoised (read: I didn’t want to wait)
The moral of this story?
I tried to convert it to low poly after that. That was interesting, and it didn’t go too well. I took away all the bevels and subdivisions and smoothing.
Then I used a Decimate and Triangulate modifier to low-poly-ize the backdrop.
Here’s what I got this time around:
Same exact thing—but low poly
Hit reply and tell me which one is better: high or low poly?
I think the low poly was a flop. The ball is OK, but the backdrop just doesn’t look nice anymore. It makes the image look pixelated.
It almost looks Lego, which is not what I wanted.
So: design your low poly artwork specifically for low poly. To convert an existing scene to low poly you’d have to rebuild every single model anyway.
Now scroll on: today’s email is a tad longer than usual.
I’ll make this easy:
If you want to improve your low poly art, you need to read this article.
This article goes over all of the important guiding principles for great low poly art, and even breaks down a piece of artwork as it goes.
It’s really good.
It taught me at least half of what I know about low poly art, that’s how good it is.
Seriously, read it now.
1 Low Poly Pick
This lighthouse by Jeremy Edelblut is beautiful.
It’s another great example of the miniature effect. The shallow depth of field (out-of-focus) effect really makes it feel small.
It does feel a little off, though. That’s because it breaks the Rule of Polygons.
The Rule Of Polygons states that polygon size needs to stay relatively consistent across different models.
It’s a loose rule—you can stretch it pretty far without anything looking too horrible. There’s a point, though, where things start looking wrong.
Artwork by Jeremy Edelblut
This render’s right on the edge. The windows and the shingles are both slightly too small, and the water polygons are slightly too big.
See how some of that feels mismatched? It doesn’t ruin the render, it just throws it off a little bit. Especially the tiny details.
In low poly, you eventually hit a minimum size—any polygons too small start looking high poly again, because they’re so small you can’t tell. (Like the tiny windows. They might be hyper-detailed, high poly meshes—and you could never tell.)
You want to avoid that.
You can see a great example of minimum size in the Lake House scene.
Mohamed solved the problem of tiny objects—by simply avoiding it. In the Lake House render, there’s nothing really tiny. Oddly, that makes the whole scene feel even more miniature, since tiny stuff in reality usually has coarser details.
He also cleverly avoided the faces-too-big problem by smooth-shading the land (which is simple enough to still fit the low poly world) and using a single flat plane for the water.
Last note: those papery, folded edges around the land are really cool.
Can't think what to blend?
Try something lonely. A leaf in a puddle, or a car in the desert.
P.S. Want to get distracted with a quick bit of fiction? I wrote some for you here.
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