View Full Version : is low poly under 3000 or 2000?

02 February 2003, 06:22 AM
is low poly under 3000 or 2000? and can i only use color maps only for my model and NO spec maps or or bump maps on my model allowed?

02 February 2003, 06:48 AM
depends on what engine your using...

02 February 2003, 06:51 AM
i am doin a low poly demo reel(portfolio) i need to know a number so when i model it right wat number of polys do u suggest?

02 February 2003, 07:10 AM
I'd go for the unreal engine 3-5k models. Low Poly modeling is getting higher polys (if it makes sense?) consoles are up to 10- 15k models already !:surprised

02 February 2003, 07:14 AM
10-15 k r u serious ???:eek:

02 February 2003, 07:16 AM
i thought pc had more polycount power (fps) over consoles because of video cards and such..

02 February 2003, 07:22 AM
Originally posted by THX
10-15 k r u serious ???:eek:

see for your self


02 February 2003, 07:24 AM
I don't know what's the "true limit" for low-poly char but 2000 is low poly. And 3k is also taken as low-poly. I think the limit is near 3k. I have seen models with 3300 polys and somebody asked "is this low poly?", so I guess it also depends how you use the polys: if you do lousy job then 3k might not be acceptable, but people can be forgiving if you do fantastic job with 3k polys :)

btw: Gibbz said it: depends on the engine also. (unreal uses 5k polys... and they are considered low polys)

(and btw: consoles aren't using 10-15k models... here's an example taken from

"Jak is 4000 polys alone. To put this in perspective, Crash Bandicoot utilized 500 polys.")

02 February 2003, 07:33 AM
kwshipman and boywonder thank you for your links!!!

02 February 2003, 12:06 PM
dont want to start an argument but consoles can easily do 10-15k models. you just have to design the game around the amount of polys to be seen at one time. oh and framerate. for examply GTA 3 and vicecity have ALOT going on so they use extremely low poly content. if you wanted to design a game with only 1-3 characters on screen and they werent running/jumping/blasting/kicking all over the place. you could model them at 10k-15k polys each and consoles would NOT be taxed. Your environment plays a BIG part too... if you have a simple environment that doesnt sprawl all over the place you can place most of your polys in your characters.

I could be wrong but the owner of the last company i worked at (an excellent programmer) said PS2's have a textured/polygon draw rate of around 64,000... so that gets eaten up pretty fast if you want 5-6 guys on screen with environment and then you start adding particles with alpha, transparency... etc etc

hope this helps! I would model 2-4 low poly models for your portfolio/reel. a 500-1000k model, a 1500-2500, and a 3500-5000k model should show your range nicely.. and use the textures appropriate for each size model. no 1024x1024 on the 500 poly guy...

02 February 2003, 06:16 PM
I agree with mrhappypants. it also has to do with consoles all being the same hardware so developer's know how far the machine can go and go there. With PC's you have to worry about lower end machines yet get the detail for higher end machines. Every year though the low end specs for PC's are moving up.
I'd say low poly is under 2k tri. Anything over that is just smoothing or accessories.

02 February 2003, 11:18 PM
I don't know of any game out there currently that uses 15 or even 10k characters.

This isn't to say game engines arn't capable of running with these specs, it's just that there are a whole lot of other things you can to to make a game look cool other than throwing more polys at the characters.

For example, with things like environment, normal and specular mapping, each time you run a pass of one of these, it essentially draws another model. So all of a sudden, your 5k character that has 3 passes on it, now weighs in at a hefty 20k.

Maybe do a 5k model and then do a couple of LODs from that model at 1500 and 500. I hate doing LODs myself, but it's a neccessary evil.

Also, have you thought about doing a normal mapped character? It's a relatively new technology which a lot of people will be using in the future.

02 February 2003, 01:21 AM
I personally consider low poly to be less than 1,000 polys. Anything above that and you start to have the option to be sloppy with your polygons. But sub-1,000 poly modeling requires a lot of planning, thought, and consideration for every single polygon. There are no extra polys and no room for slop.

Technology is definitely getting better but I think a knowledge of real low poly modeling can really help you with modeling in higher ranges. Also not everyone in the game industry gets to work on the main character for a fighting game with 10,000 polys apiece. In fact most do not. Lots of people work on games with more people on the screen, or environmental objects, etc.

I think Mr. Happy Pants has it right on the money, try to cover all of your bases. In my portfolio I have character models ranging from 12,000 polygons all the way down to 200 polygons.

02 February 2003, 02:18 AM
Hey THX, if your going for portfolio piece, I recommend 3K Poly count or under. At least thats what my friends in the industry are saying. Some work for Midway, Activision, Novalogic, and ZAxis. All of them told me to stick under 3K. Now as for consoles, the character poly count are under 1.5K like HALO or so. Remember that XBOX is at 733Mhz and a Geforce card inside. The processor cant handle 1.5k+ characters let alone all the particle systems available in the game. PS2 is only at 433Mhz I believe with a piece of crap graphic card. So think about the poly count that the console will able to render with 256 x 256 Res textures at the highest.

When Nvidia GeFORCE FX comes out this March, the poly count for characters in the highest LOD setting will most likely be 5K to 6K depending on the engine. So be on the look out for DOOM III!Hope that helps.

P.S. These infos come from friends that are in the industry.

02 February 2003, 10:59 PM
The crazy thing is, DooM3 is using characters that are like 1k and projecting a normal map onto the surface to achieve the look of a high res model.

So the art of low poly isn't lost. It's just that your expected to produce both hi AND low poly now.

It's a paradigm shift baby!!

02 February 2003, 04:03 AM
Actually DoomIII characters are more in the 3000 poly range, but it's still impressive how well they look with the normal mapping nonetheless.

02 February 2003, 07:40 PM
Low poly characters totally range. A game like Warcraft3 has VERY low poly characters, but they are pushing a lot of units. I just finished a game on the PS2/Gamecube and we were maxed at 2000 poly's for various reasons and one 512 X 512 map. It turned out nice though and it holds up to the other higher poly games out there.
Now I'm working with a 6000 poly limit, which compared to when I was working on TV is still relatively low. After being in the game industry for a while now I see that going above 10000 is ridiculous, especially since most engines don't seam to support hi quality skeletons to deform these high quality models AND I'd rather see more detailed environments, proper lighting, shadows, and other shaders (radiosity anyone?) then have a character that's super smooth.

I agree with the building 3 models at different resolutions since there really is no definitive number for "low poly"
1000 is low, but if someone thinks that going above that causes people to be sloppy they must be working with mediocre artists.

At 2000 I had to squeeze every last polygon for the shapes I got, and I'd love to see someone take a poly out that didn't either help the way it deformed or change the shape.

Now with cards and systems starting to use specular hghlights, the geometry density is even more important as the shape of a highlight related to the shapes of the polys.
Bottom line is, if you're good you'll always be able to use every poly to make your character better.:thumbsup:

02 February 2003, 07:54 PM
Originally posted by Maximillion
I agree with the building 3 models at different resolutions since there really is no definitive number for "low poly"
1000 is low, but if someone thinks that going above that causes people to be sloppy they must be working with mediocre artists.

At 2000 I had to squeeze every last polygon for the shapes I got, and I'd love to see someone take a poly out that didn't either help the way it deformed or change the shape.

Yeah, I guess I should have mentioned the third variable which is detail. A lot of people say "Oh, ok I have a 3,000 poly limit" and then proceed to make a really basic naked human character using all 3,000. But If you are making a fully armored character with weapons, and buckles on his boots, etc. etc. then 3,000 can be just as hard as 1,000.

02 February 2003, 09:42 PM
wahooo .. its still alive..been so busy workin on my portfolio, didn't notice .Thank you to everyone that replied and for sharing your insights!:applause: :thumbsup: :cool:

02 February 2003, 09:46 PM
go for closer to 3K. Jak is 4K polys just by himself

02 February 2003, 10:13 PM
Mr. HappyPants is correct -- have a variety...
Those models are for a volleyball game which can't possibly have 32 players on the screen simultaneously, unlike multiplayer FPS games that have lower polygon counts. Although, the computer hardware is advancing, so look for those to go up as they have in the past. (quake1: ~400 polys; ut2k3: ~5k)

Originally posted by CogsOrchish

When Nvidia GeFORCE FX comes out this March, the poly count for characters in the highest LOD setting will most likely be 5K to 6K depending on the engine. So be on the look out for DOOM III!

Doom3 counts are in the ~1k-4k range. As mentioned before they do have some added eye candy which make it appear as though they are about 10k polys. Normal Maps were produced from higher poly models and projected onto the lower poly models which achieves the same effect, at a lower cost on the poor CPU.

The first reviews of the FX show that it fairs very close to the radeon 9700 pro, and loses in some tests.


02 February 2003, 03:02 AM
Anyone know of games currently in development that use normal mapping, other than Doom3 and Halo2?

02 February 2003, 12:53 PM
Just to add another point of view on the matter..

I used to teach 3D animation/modeling for games and movies. Whilst teaching low polygon models, I found that anything over about 1200 triangles (important - quads don't count for anything - faces with more than 3 sides should not be used at all), didn't give a very good challange.

With Hi-res texture maps, a limit of 10-15k polygons, it isn't really low poly modeling anymore. With 15k, and a 1024 texture map, you should be able to do photo-realistic quality. As far as applying for a job in the industry, a potential employer will be much more impressed to see a really great model at a lower poly count, than a really great one at a high poly count. Most games will not have more than about 3000 triangles for a character in a game, and anybody getting to do more hi-res than that, likely has proven themselves with a shipped title - so gets to do the fun stuff.

I now work for a company that produces games for the various consoles - the PS2 pushes a lot of poly. But you need a lot of room for backgrounds, effects, and physics. It also does not handle textures of very large formats. 128 square is the best to hope for for a NPC, while you will often get a 256 for a main character. XBox pushes this closer to 256 for NPCs, and 512 for main characters.

My main advice is, don't make a model based on what is the very upper limit of what a computer with the very best stats can handle with very few characters on screen. It will only be a true test of your abilities to create characters that look good with very low stats. Try doing some 500 triangle characters with 64 square textures to start, and work your way up to more hi-res models to have fun.

02 February 2003, 06:30 AM
Hey Dargon,
Great advice!!!

02 February 2003, 07:05 AM
you know something i forgot to add in my first comment is that you should focus more on very low poly modeling simply because it is the essence of sculpting.. like the gesture sketch is the essence of drawing.. the "primitive" shapes of a really really low poly model (100-500 polys) resembles the masses. You can rocket by most artists by focusing on busting out lots of really low poly models. creating 10 models of the figure done at 100 polys will make you a better modeler then doing 1 done at 1000.. of course you still need to create the 1000 but youll understand proportions and masses quicker with simpler models

so anyone wanting to create a strong portfolio (game or FILM) will benefit the most from practicing sculpting the masses of the figure with as few polys as possible.. when that starts to look good then add more polys but not until you get the masses looking right. I believe this is why alot of high poly models end up looking round and formless.. the artists havent learned to "see" the planes created by the masses.. low poly modeling forces you to learn those planes.

this is turning into a great thread by the way.. :beer:

02 February 2003, 05:57 PM
Excellent Comments MrHappyPants! I agree with you tremendously.
Doing low-poly or "proxy" models is the 3DCG equivalent of lifedrawing. Quickly getting used to shape and form without long term involvement.
I would %100 recommend anyone to sculpt a low poly version of what every model they do, low or highres. It's an invaluable reference/warmup tool to establish proportions and shape. Plus it forces you to really work the geolines of the body and complicated parts which you'd hone for the higher res.
I eventually made my modelling students give me 3 1000 polymodels a week when I was teaching. And the ones that kept up improved drastically.


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