12 Tips on Creating Low Polygon Models


Low polygon modeling is an essential element is creating successful 3D websites. The following tips should help you get started. In addition, make sure you watch the SketchUp video tutorials found at


They are excellent!!!

Tip 1: Reduce face count by simplifying geometry such as windows and doors. It’s more important to show position and proportion than the trim. Use images of windows and doors as opposed to trying to model them exactly. When ever possible, use entire building photos to model building sides.

Tip 2: Use simplified structures. As opposed to trying to create a grainy surface (or wood lattices) based on vertex manipulation (or multi-primitive placement), just use a texture that has a grainy look (or PNG lattice). This can go a long way…use it whenever you can. Use PNG (for transparency) or JPG images at 72ppi.

Tip 3: Keep curved surfaces to a minimal number of faces. Reduce the number of sides of a polygon. Many times you can get a way with using a 3-sided polygon to draw a column as opposed to a 12-sided polygon. The savings are huge…

Tip 4: Avoid hidden structures. If you can’t see it don’t draw it. Many models have internal structures that are revealed when opening a door or hatch (like the inside of a tank). Separate those structures using a portal engine and don’t draw them until you need them. Or for example, why draw the bottom of a house or its internal walls if you don’t see it. Delete them.

Tip 5: Be aware of levels of detail. Focus on where your user will be looking. If your user’s eye is not drawn to a certain area of the screen approximate detail with an image. Or if an object is always going to be viewed from far away, don’t detail it.

Tip 6: Use single faces when possible. Many times a single face (or combination of single faces) can be used to approximate structures. A tree, for example, can be created from two or three single faces (as was shown in Chapter 3), as opposed to drawing multiple polygons to represent the branches and leaves.

Tip 7: Turn repeated geometry into instantiated components, in which case your computer only has to remember a single definition. And optimize the component definition itself (such as removing backsides that aren’t seen).

Tip 8: Paint small or insignificant structures with colors as opposed to using a texture.

Tip 9: Use Picasa, Gimp, or Photoshop to optimize your images. Bringing down image size and file size will increase your model’s performance on the web. There is a trade off between image quality and web performance. And use mip-mapping (discussed in the next chapter) whenever possible.

Tip 10: Avoid lines. Drawing lines in Papervision3D is expensive; make sure you have the lines turned off. And avoid using composite components and transparency in PV3D; it taxes your processor.

Tip 11: When shading use Pixel Bender or the Fast Shading techniques developed in this book.

Tip 12: Watch your polygon count as you model; in 3DSMax hit the 7 key and your polygon and vertices number will appear at the upper left hand corner of your screen.

Finally, CS4 lets you use large polygon faces without getting PV3D image sag. This greatly reduces the number of polygons needed to model buildings.


6 Responses to 12 Tips on Creating Low Polygon Models

  1. Finally, CS4 lets you use large polygon faces without getting PV3D image sag. This greatly reduces the number of polygons needed to model buildings.

    I’m not to sure what you mean by this?

    • Mike Lively says:

      When you have a low-poly model in PV3D and you rotate it the image will sag if not enough polygons are present. This is not the case for objects produced in CS4.

  2. […] > 12 Tips on Creating Low Polygon Models « Professional Papervision3D Book […]

  3. Ah I see, I have noticed that in PV3D. I hope they fix it soon otherwise PV3D will be less attractive to me.

    Blessings and thanks for the reply

  4. Not that I’m totally impressed, but this is more than I expected when I found a link on Digg telling that the info here is quite decent. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: