A few days ago I was looking around on the Eat 3D forums and I came across this topic. It is a small workshop created by Ceribral. I decided to take part in it to improve my skills and it is also a nice opportunity to test something.
My goal is to make 3 different low poly models. 1 around 1000 triangles, 1 around 500-600 and 1 around 300-400. In the end I will compare the different models, test the strengths of a normalmap and I will answer some questions. Is it really that important to match the silhouette as close as possible? Or can I cut off or simplify some parts? In how far will a normalmap be able to cover things up? And in how far will a more simplified give a better texture with higher quality since you have more texturespace with a model with less triangles?
I’ve finished the first low poly model (960 triangles – 1024 normal/div map)
I finished the second model. It has 632 triangles. As you can see below, there isn’t really a big quality loss. Maybe the handles cause they are made out of 1 plane and an opacity map but it still looks pretty good. I didn’t had any trouble reducing the polycount this much without having to rebake the model’s normalmap. The only things I had to rebake were the handles and the 2 tubes which are now just planes. I could fit them perfectly on the texture on the same spot where I unwrapped the handles first. There isn’t also much space lost on the texture itself. A lot edges were deleted within a UV island. The boundaries are still the same and so is the size of most UV islands. The first picture is taken inside UDK. The second one is from Max. As you can see, in max you get that weird big black outline inside and outside on the opacity map. It must be some shader bug I think.
I made a new update of the model. The 3rd, and last, model has now 322 triangles. There isn’t much changed in UVW layout nor is there much texture space made available. The same method was used like the last model. Most of the edges/connects that were removed, were inside a UVW island. The main changes were done on top of the model. Also the top sides were removed too.
Personally I think this is a bit too low poly. The silhouette is changed quite a lot, especially on top.
A good low poly version would be a mix between the second and the third model. Aiming for 550-600 triangles and no change of silhouette but a clever use of alpha maps and topology.
Soon a textured version of the final model rendered in UDK will be posted here.
Final model with handpainted texture