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Understanding the importance of a low poly count

From: Game Prop Creation in Maya

Video: Understanding the importance of a low poly count

In this chapter I'll look at a workflow going between high poly and low poly in Maya. What we see a lot of times is we need a good low poly foundation, and then we'll make a high-poly version, beveling and extruding additional detail into a model, and then, finally, baking out or rendering from high poly to low poly in a Projection to produce a normal map, which makes the low poly look like it's got a lot of extra detail. These are fairly low-poly models. As an example, on this table I've modeled out the planks, and my poly count is really not bad because all the edges are straight.

Understanding the importance of a low poly count

In this chapter I'll look at a workflow going between high poly and low poly in Maya. What we see a lot of times is we need a good low poly foundation, and then we'll make a high-poly version, beveling and extruding additional detail into a model, and then, finally, baking out or rendering from high poly to low poly in a Projection to produce a normal map, which makes the low poly look like it's got a lot of extra detail. These are fairly low-poly models. As an example, on this table I've modeled out the planks, and my poly count is really not bad because all the edges are straight.

What I have done to add variation is instead to disturb the silhouette by pulling the edges back and forth. To test this and really see what the poly count is doing. I'll choose Display > Heads Up Display > Poly Count. In here I'll select my table, this whole table comes in at 112 faces. The whole scene is 862, which for this much furniture is really not bad. We can view this and either faces or tris and even at 224 tris for this table I've got pretty good detail going on.

I've also got a good edge flow, a major contributor to this is building it in pieces. It's very easy to take a giant block and try to sculpt something out we can subdivide and take away pieces easily. However, this kind of thing, a table, is built in pieces and assembled with fasteners or joinery, so to build it like this gives us a really good edge flow. As an example, this is a Poly Cube I've modified it, unwrapped it, and stretched it. But it's very easy to take this and subdivide it, beveling edges, and pushing in corners to wear away at the wood.

We can take this in project those normals easily onto a low poly, and I've got a good unwrap on it. What I may see in this kind of workflow is either a different unwrap instead of stacking UVs starting to see some unique pieces in one area of my texture sheet. What I also may see is a general area of dense that I will map on to here. As an example, what I may end up doing is putting in tool marks all across the surface. Designating a piece of the texture sheet for, well, the top that's been marked, scraped down, or planed, or something similar.

For this table, what we might see on the roundtable top here are beveled edges rounding over these corners and having a more unique unwrap. This table is large enough it might be a centerpiece and need its own texture. Sharing the same wood color, but needing a different normal map. In all though, I'm striving to keep my Poly Count low, and here's why. Very quickly we can have a lot of objects running around a game, and even though poly counts are maybe not as religiously as important as in previous years.

There is still an importance in having just the right amount of geometry and maximizing our texture space. I'll show one last example here, to illustrate how quick Poly Count gets out of control. I am going to pick my chair and deselect the light. I'll take this chair and put it next to my table. It looks like I did actually model these things at the right size. I'll put the pivot for the chair centered on one of the legs, so I can rotate the whole thing. I'll make sure I'm rotating by the world axis and spin this over.

Watch what's happens to the Poly Count in the scene. I'll make sure I am zoomed out to see everything. Right now, in my overall Poly Count I am looking at 1700 tris. I'll press W for move, Ctrl+D to Duplicate, and pull this over. I'll duplicate it again, and there are three chairs. I'll rotate one to sit at the head. I'll pull this in, duplicate it, and pull it back. Rotating it one more time to sit this opposite.

I'll need to move over the roundtable, but very quickly I've added 700 more tris. This gets very big very quick, and we're going to have a lot of things in our scene because if you look around the world there is, well, a lot of stuff. And it's not necessarily special stuff it's just things, things we use in our everyday lives that we have multiples of, like multiple chairs around a table, multiple tools in the Toolbox. Whatever it is we end up seeing a lot of pieces, and we need to watch out how many polys each one has, because very quickly we're going to duplicate them and use them around.

We need a good workflow, a good low poly structure, and things assembled in parts. And finally, optimizing the amount of polys is crucial, making sure we have got the right amount of silhouette showing without breaking the bank in poly count.

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This video is part of

Image for Game Prop Creation in Maya
Game Prop Creation in Maya

90 video lessons · 6158 viewers

Adam Crespi
Author

 
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  1. 7m 22s
    1. Welcome
      43s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 35s
    3. What you should know before watching this course
      23s
    4. Setting up the workflow
      4m 41s
  2. 46m 16s
    1. Overview of modeling a large prop and planning for modular textures and models
      6m 53s
    2. Blocking out the overall form
      6m 14s
    3. Adding curved panels
      3m 26s
    4. Rounding the corners
      6m 46s
    5. Unwrapping the face frame
      6m 39s
    6. Unwrapping the sides
      5m 8s
    7. Moving and sewing UVs
      5m 23s
    8. Laying out the UV coordinates
      5m 47s
  3. 1h 50m
    1. Overview of the texturing process and PSD networks
      4m 43s
    2. Creating a bump map for the sides
      10m 55s
    3. Adding details to the bump map
      8m 6s
    4. Drawing the bump map for the front
      7m 51s
    5. Adding details to the panels
      7m 45s
    6. Painting the diffuse texture and planning the layers
      3m 35s
    7. Painting the base coat and the logo
      5m 24s
    8. Adding labels and other markings
      10m 45s
    9. Adding soft rust
      8m 32s
    10. Adding rust bubbles
      8m 58s
    11. Setting up a library of gas pump textures
      6m 40s
    12. Painting dirt and rust variations
      5m 23s
    13. Weathering away the paint
      5m 1s
    14. Converting bump maps to normal maps
      5m 36s
    15. Testing the maps
      11m 8s
  4. 1h 28m
    1. Overview of modeling small props
      1m 59s
    2. Modeling a sledgehammer
      6m 11s
    3. Modeling a pry bar
      6m 26s
    4. Adding detail and hardening edges
      5m 28s
    5. Unwrapping as part of building a texture sheet for small tools
      8m 27s
    6. Modeling a metal ladder
      8m 51s
    7. Unwrapping and cloning
      8m 46s
    8. Placing the clean texture
      8m 39s
    9. Laying out a texture sheet for multiple tools
      8m 37s
    10. Painting rusty steel
      7m 46s
    11. Adding dirt and wear
      5m 42s
    12. Planning for optimal texture usage
      7m 37s
    13. Painting dirt and age variations
      3m 42s
  5. 1h 45m
    1. Modeling furniture using simple parts and reusable textures
      2m 53s
    2. Planning and analyzing the modeling of a chair
      4m 56s
    3. Blocking out the basic form
      8m 24s
    4. Adding detail and softening edges
      6m 42s
    5. Refining the silhouette
      12m 9s
    6. Blocking out the form of a round chair
      7m 39s
    7. Adding detail and softening the edges of a round chair
      5m 20s
    8. Unwrapping as part of building a texture sheet for furniture
      14m 36s
    9. Planning the modeling of a table
      3m 14s
    10. Blocking out the basic table form
      4m 41s
    11. Adding legs to the table
      7m 6s
    12. Breaking up the model for texturing
      7m 55s
    13. Laying out the wood texture
      9m 29s
    14. Reusing parts to make a round table
      10m 12s
  6. 39m 23s
    1. Understanding the importance of painting textures from scratch
      2m 9s
    2. Creating the initial grain lines
      4m 43s
    3. Adding value variation across the grain
      2m 22s
    4. Warping the grain
      2m 50s
    5. Adding knots
      4m 27s
    6. Colorizing the grain and planning for stains
      6m 53s
    7. Cutting out boards for a UV layout
      5m 26s
    8. Adding patina and wear to a final texture
      10m 33s
  7. 1h 2m
    1. Understanding the importance of a low poly count
      4m 46s
    2. Overview of normal maps
      9m 26s
    3. Overview of the high-poly projection pipeline
      3m 10s
    4. Planning the UV space for projection
      5m 29s
    5. Working with hard edges and subdividing
      7m 22s
    6. Adding details by beveling and extruding
      6m 50s
    7. Fixing geometry
      7m 39s
    8. Using the Sculpt Geometry tool and soft selection to add dents
      9m 32s
    9. Baking the high-poly model onto the low-poly model to produce a normal map
      8m 21s
  8. 51m 4s
    1. Overview of Mudbox
      4m 26s
    2. Preparing for a smooth export to Mudbox
      7m 43s
    3. Importing from Mudbox: Choosing the right resolution
      5m 9s
    4. Using the sculpt tools
      8m 30s
    5. Painting
      8m 58s
    6. Exporting paint layers from Mudbox
      1m 35s
    7. Extracting and exporting a normal map from Mudbox
      6m 2s
    8. Importing and assigning objects and maps in Unity
      8m 41s
  9. 41m 4s
    1. Overview of ambient occlusion and specularity
      5m 55s
    2. Setting up ambient occlusion as a texture
      7m 3s
    3. Using ambient occlusion as a foundation for dirt
      6m 44s
    4. Using ambient occlusion as a foundation for rust
      10m 5s
    5. Painting a specular map
      6m 48s
    6. Streamlining the import process: Placing maps in the right channels
      4m 29s
  10. 21m 46s
    1. Overview of importing into Unity
      3m 15s
    2. Preparing and exporting props to Unity
      7m 54s
    3. Cloning props in Unity with different looks
      5m 21s
    4. Adding lights to test smoothing and textures
      5m 16s
  11. 22s
    1. Next steps
      22s

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