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So here we have this fairly blocky model of Captain Knowledge and to make it a little smoother, we have a couple of modifiers. One is we could manually go in and cut in more edge loops and do more manual editing. But I would like the computer to do the lot of the work for me. So we have over here under Add Modifier > Subsurf. So there is a couple of different algorithms that you can use. One is the Catmull-Clark and Mr. Catmull and Mr. Clark came up with a great algorithm for figuring out where to add vertices.
Effectively Blender is creating vertices for you. The other way is a simple subdivision, which uses more of a mathematical averaging technique. Catmull-Clark is great for organic surfaces as you can see I'm switching between the two. One instantly gives much better results-- the Catmull-Clark does. Now, there is two different levels here. The first level is the level that you see in your 3D View and that's usually set to 1 because that's adequate for you to see when you are working on the mesh.
The next level is the Render level. When we press F12 and actually get render of Captain and I'm going to add in some lights by Shift-clicking on Layer 1, which adds in the camera and the lights. And now if press F12, I get a render of the bottom half of Captain Knowledge. I'll go ahead and grab it and move it up here a little bit. When I render, it's going to go out and it's actually going to do two sub-surfacing and as you can see his chest is much smoother here because I'm actually applying two different levels.
I can match the rendering level to the observable level if I have a powerful enough computer. When I'm editing though you can see I have all of these lines now and actually all those lines can get a little weary when I'm trying to edit. So what I can do is I can turn on Optimal Draw which turns off the drawing of where those additional lines are being added for me. The last point is the place of the Subsurf Modifier within the Modifier stack and the Subsurf should always come last because first we want to mirror the mesh and then we want to subsurf the entire mesh.
If instead I subsurfed and then I mirrored, my computer would be doing essentially twice as much work. It would be subsurfacing and then would have to mirror all of those vertices all over again. So it's better to keep the Subsurf at the bottom of the Modifier stack. So use Subsurf to give yourself a nice organic smooth shape without having to do a lot of manual work and adding a lot of vertices.
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