This render is so bad

With advice from Menno Van Roon

The Blend.

Become a better low poly artist in 5 minutes each week.

By Samuel Sullins

The Blend

(was just happily doing some work when it hit me: it’s Tuesday! What about your newsletter? Remember that? So…I’m sending it now.)

Couple months ago I had an idea:

What if I took real movie scenes and made them low poly?

I’d just seen Dune—so it was a natural choice.

I picked this scene, where the Atreides army is standing out in front of this massive spaceship:

It seemed like a good choice for low-poly-izing, since it had a wide landscape and a clear main subject.

First thing I did was add a big sphere (for the spaceship.) Then I worked on getting a camera angle that was just right.

After that, I worked on details. Landmasses, trees, some rocks. I modeled a crude low poly soldier and duplicated him with Geometry Nodes to make the army.

Then I worked on matching the lighting. I used a single Sun lamp, and a plane with a gradient for the sky.

It looked OK, I thought:

Then I showed it to Menno Van Roon of MVARTZ.

He’s built a lot of simple-style scenes, so he had some really great feedback:

Today’s Technique(s)

One of Menno’s core composition ideas is keeping the “noise” of detail away from the main subject, so the subject stands out.

His idea for applying that was to clear away some of the trees. Cut them away to widen the clearing, so the viewer’s eye will be drawn inward toward the spaceship.

Next, he suggested adding some variation. The trees are fairly monotonous and boring—because they’re all identical models. Some color variations, and the occasional rocky outcrop, would help a lot.

He also pointed out that the army in front of the spaceship is nearly invisible. Using less soldiers would allow them to be spaced out further, and more visible.

And finally—beveling. He suggested beveling a few of the sharp edges on the spaceship—just a light bevel, so it doesn’t undermine the low poly look.

Are these good ideas?

We’ll see. In next week’s Blend, I’ll show you what it looks like after I do everything Menno suggested.

Menno had more good ideas—on composition, backgrounds, and more.

You can watch our whole conversation here:

Now for an awesome bit of low poly artwork:

1 Low Poly Pick

Today’s render is by Evgeny of Pelopoly.

This is a style I haven’t seen in low poly before. It’s a sharper, more triangulated look.

The shallow depth-of-field is cool here. It takes something giant, a cliff, and makes it feel tiny.

There’s big waves out in the water, though, so it still seems big—it’s an interesting “clash of scales.”

How do I know that’s water?

Because he was clever enough to make it shiny, so we can see the reflection. Worked really well, too (if you think it looks like crinkly plastic wrap you’re wrong, that’s it.)

And aren't those falling leaves cool? They might be flat planes, or full 3D solids—not sure.

My favorite part is the tree roots bursting out of the cliff.

Can't think what to blend?

Try something…reaching. A tentacle snaking around a coffee cup, or a climber struggling back up a cliff.

P.S. If you do anything with 3D or VFX you need to watch Dune. (it’s the absolute pinnacle of VFX work & the total crowning achievement of all human civilization.)

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