View Full Version : How do I smooth a ultra lowpoly model ?

11 November 2006, 05:23 PM
Hello all!

I've already posted this question in the modeling section, but I came to realize it would probably be better off here:

I'm going to be working on an FPS soon and there are some things I need to figure out.

When playing video games, FPS or MMORPGs (CoH, WOW, etc), I can't help noticing the smooth rounded off outline/silhouette the low poly caracters have. The shoulders are all rounded off for example. Basically the caracter looks like it has at least 1000 poly more than I know it has.

Here is an example:

This isn't the best example I've seen, but will suffice to illustrate the question.
If you look at the outer outline of the left leg for instance, it seems to be curved.
(The same applies for the right outline of the face, the outer outlines of the right leg, and arms and the hair).
Yet this is clearly a low poly caracter.
How do I give this soft curvy look to a lowpoly model and avoid angular edges like those on the feet and the inner outline under the knees?

How do they get a meshsmooth-looking outline on a low poly model without adding mesh ?? Better still, how do they do it in 3DSMax ? What's the technique called?

I read something about "vertex blending" somewhere, and it sounded a bit like what I'm looking for. Does anyone know more about it?

Thanks a bunch!

Ze Geekette

11 November 2006, 05:35 PM
There's no trick to it as far as I know, it's just really good modeling. Simple as that. I'd find some wireframes for you but I'm at work and I'm sure others can find good examples :)

11 November 2006, 10:19 PM
Mmm well on that example if you look you can see some of the edges easily. Just take another look at the legs for example and the bottom of the dress. Some times you might just want to put more polygons into certain areas than others if they make for a better silhouette. Just take a look at other peoples characters on here look closely at wire frames. There really isn’t a way of smoothing things out not that i am aware of. You can try softening the edges if you use Maya think its called smoothing groups in max but I have only used max a little so far! A lot of the times other things distract you from the silhouette of a character while playing games if you actually take a closer look you start to notice things. For example if you have ever played grand theft auto some of the trees are just simple planes crossed over with textures on them! I recommend you play some games and just focus on looking at things. Post some of you models and we can tell you how to make them better :)

Good luck :thumbsup:

11 November 2006, 11:46 PM
The thing is with a blizzard character like that (that is from WoW, right?) That the legs//arms are 4 sided cylinders and her torso is a 6 sided cylinder around the waist. They don't waste a single triangle on anything that won't affect the silohouette, which is a pretty common rule for low poly modelling.

11 November 2006, 08:24 AM
As has been mentioned before, there isn't really any trick to it. As ridiculous as it sounds, it's all about putting the poly's in the right place. This is something that you'll get better at as your skills improve.

As for the smoothing groups / soft & hard normals, they will help to improve the overall appearance of the model. Unfortunately they won't do much for the actual silhouette.

The best advice I can give, is to study your models and ask yourself if you need the poly's where they currently are. If they aren't working, move them around.

11 November 2006, 04:08 PM
100% illumination is a sure fire way of getting rid of shading errors on a really low poly model, quite often it can look way better with lighting info in the map rather than in realtime.

11 November 2006, 02:26 AM
ahah , it plain good ol modeling technique , the trick of lowpoly is that you must actually know where to place your plygons, you dont have meshsmooth crap to help you out eheh ;)

11 November 2006, 09:14 AM
You also have to bear in mind that pixellation along edges makes it harder to discern shallower edges, causing it to look curvier than it actually is.

11 November 2006, 06:13 PM
Simple, where there is curves or deformation add some edges, where there is not, optimize.
Remember, the surface of the mesh needs some textures to get a better looking, and this makes your head "thinking" there´s some curves, but there´s not.

Dude, its just skill modeling, dont take pressure, you will learn to do that in time.
Why not try to discover your self doing some paint on this screenshot? Paint in red their wireframe and post it for us, im shure you can do this, doing this you will discover how much you are asking about.

11 November 2006, 06:27 PM
Look, here it is a nice example I´ve draw in photoshop.
You will see the fake wireframe can be understanded, and it IS low poly.
Remember this wire its just an example, not the real one. But i think its close! :thumbsup:

11 November 2006, 03:02 AM
That's a pretty neat rendition, how many poly's would you all say that toon could be?

11 November 2006, 06:24 AM
The thing is with blizzard models, is that they're pretty much universally lit. they dont use any vertex shaders for shadows or nothin'.. just all equally lit surfaces for every part of the model. without shadows it makes it very dificult in-game to discern where polygon edges are.

If you want to achieve this same effect in maya, using a lambert shader, apply your texture to the ambient color, and set your diffuse to 0. (dont place the texture in "color")

Another thing is, what people have been talking about before, smoothing groups and soften/harden edges in maya. It makes ALL the difference.

ambient color/diffuse at 0, rendered with default lighting

11 November 2006, 10:13 AM
Maybe somewhere between 600-700? It's a bit hard to tell without seeing another angle of the face and the hair and there are the hands which seem to have 4 or 5 fingers. And lastly a few extra polys for the deformations...

11 November 2006, 09:24 AM
Thank you all for the explanations! Especially Bugo for the great example.

Ok I'll try to make a simple model and post it. We'll see what you think ;-)

Otherwise I was wondering... animation wise. If the legs and arms are only four sided cylinders, how does that work at the elbows or the knees ? Seems strange to me, but the again, I'm only a padawan.

Thanks to all!

11 November 2006, 11:29 AM
The number of sides on the cylinder isn't that important as long as you have a few segments where the bend is. 2 or 3 segments where the elbow/knee is is usually enough.

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