Low polygon artwork – More with less

One of my rather frequent pastimes is playing video games.  And over the years I’ve played a lot of games.  Some really good ones and a lot of bad ones.  Often I’m left with the feeling that something should be done better.

Of course, getting from I want to make a game to actually having a finished product is another story.  It involves tons of work in different areas from programming, scripting, sound/music composition and graphics.  Games put a tremendous demand on computers to provide real time interaction.  Tricks are required to get things to look better than they really are.  Designers have been forced to use low polygon count models because graphics hardware couldn’t keep up.  This is the art of doing more with less, and it isn’t always easy.

This is one of my first attempts to take a high polygon model and do the same with less.  As you can see from the image, I went from 21,000 polygons to 2,000.

Low and high poly tanks

Low and high poly tanks

With the textures on each tank, you can’t tell that much is different without closely looking at both.  However, when compared to the raw mesh below, you can clearly see the difference.

Low and high poly tanks raw

Low and high poly tanks raw

Key areas include the tank road wheels, details on the main hull and turret and most of all the treads.  Textures add a lot to the render, but using a tangent normal map allows the lighting to provide even more hints that the model contains more geometry than it really does.

Learning to use Blender can be painful at times.  It is the best open source 3D graphics program for low poly modeling.  Still, I had fun learning how everything went together.  I think on my next attempt I can reduce the poly count down by another 20% for even more savings.

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