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Newbie with Poly Count Problem

Discussion in 'General Graphics' started by 3dgreg, Jul 24, 2016.

  1. 3dgreg

    3dgreg

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    My models are sure not low poly. I like doing much more detail than I think is smart, but it sure causes my poly counts to get unrealistic. I'm working with Maya 2015 and have used the clean up reduction tools, but the count is still pretty crazy. Is this going to be a case of creating a much lower poly count model and just being more creative with less detail? Making more detailed models is fun but not worth the effort if the models are going to be basically unusable.
     

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  2. bgolus

    bgolus

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    I would suggest you look into normal maps, as well as alpha test or "cutout" materials. You're definitely going to want to work on getting your polycounts lower as 300k tris could be the budget for an entire scene and not just one vehicle (though PCs are really fast these days).

    Poly reduction tools in 3d modeling applications aren't usually good enough on their own and people often end up having to make two versions of a model, a high poly one with tons of detail, and a low poly one with only the minimum detail needed to look decent. That low poly model needs to retain most of the high poly model's significant silhouette, but not many if any of the interior surface details as a normal map can fake that detail.

    Using a cutout material is also useful for faking high poly details. Those wheel interiors for example are very thin circles which could be a completely flat cutout surface with a normal map and no one would be the wiser, only the outer part of the wheel needs any dimension. Same with most of those dials, a simplified curved cutout surface with a normal map and it's done.
     
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  3. JamesArndt

    JamesArndt

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    The really great thing you have going on right now is that half the work is done! You look like you have the high poly model completed and now you need to just to create the real time model on top of it. Easiest way is to take all of this high resolution geometry, put it on it's own layer in Maya, make all of that geometry "live" (select it, Modify - Make Live in the menu) and then just use the Create Polygon tool and create a lower resolution mesh, snapping to the high resolution surface as reference. You can accurately build your real time Unity mesh this way. Once you're done with the realtime lower poly mesh, you can then do normal map baking, and any other kind of baking to "bake" those high poly model details into a texture that will be applied to the low poly real time mesh.

    Not sure if I made sense here, but here is a decent tutorial that shows baking high poly detail to texture and applying to low poly mesh.

     
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  4. 3dgreg

    3dgreg

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    This helps more than you know. Just gave it a shot and I'm already addicted to this. Really appreciate the help! The poly count difference is great.
    Normals Map.JPG
     
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  5. JamesArndt

    JamesArndt

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    Yeah it's super eye opening all of the detail you realize you can now fake on a very low polygon mesh. You can fake tubes, hoses, screws, scratches, dents, just about anything you can imagine. The great part is you don't have to do any UVs on the high poly mesh, so just build it as high poly as you like, embed as many tiny pieces as you like. The UVs have to be done on the low poly mesh though!

    Good reading and sample images here.
    http://wiki.polycount.com/wiki/Normal_Map_Modeling
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2016
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  6. 3dgreg

    3dgreg

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    Really appreciate your time to help me out here. Now I know what I'm doing all day today. I've been using Maya for a while, but being self taught it's becoming pretty obvious how much of the basics I missed. Totally addicted now. Thanks again, I'll check these out asap.
     
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  7. bgolus

    bgolus

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    One last note from me, when baking the normal maps for use in Unity you'll eventually want to use xNormal and not Maya.
    http://www.xnormal.net/

    If you want to dig through my post history you can find an explanation for why, but the short version is in some situations the normal maps baked from Maya won't look the same in Unity as it did in Maya. Unity and xNormal (assuming you're using Unity 5.2 or newer).
     
  8. 3dgreg

    3dgreg

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    Thanks, I'll check into that right now. Appreciate both of you guys suggestions, makes a big difference. Not to get off topic, sounds like you both do this for a living. Seems to me it becomes an issue of being much more creative in how you do things than just creating detailed models. Creative I can do. Thanks again.
     
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  9. JamesArndt

    JamesArndt

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    There are a bunch of ways to tackle creating this stuff. Some people don't even use meshes at all for their normal maps. nDO is a great tool that just allows you to paint normal maps in Photoshop. Yeah I've worked in the gaming industry since 2007, and now (as of 2016) work in simulations at Lockheed Martin, same thing, making 3D and 2D content to run in the engine we use here.
     
  10. theANMATOR2b

    theANMATOR2b

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    For some general modeling advice - beyond normal mapping which has been stated and is totally worth the extra effort.

    Although the model is very nice looking, there are areas where there is wasted polygons, that don't add ANY detail to the model.
    The three main area I see I think can be worked on are - 1 any flat surface that has more than one segment is a waste. An example is the wheels on your model. It looks like it has 5-6 polygon rows - which isn't needed at all because its a flat surface. Reducing those polygons down to only one surface polygon - would not result in any less detail.
    Any polygons that are on the same plane - flat - can be reduced. Sometimes they are needed to keep working with quads, which is preferred, but usually - when modeling - a flat plane is one polygon.
    Second area is where large objects become smaller object - as in the big tank on the top. As the tank starts to form a point, where the polygons start to get smaller and smaller, there is a point of diminishing return. These areas are a good place to consider smartly collapsing vertices down so the polygon count is lower.
    Third - resolution for smaller pieces doesn't need to match the larger pieces. In context - unless people will be zooming in to see your awesome 8k resolution textures - and even then - the completely solid blue pieces (polygons so dense it looks like a solid piece) in the wireframe image provided, could get away with 8 sided cylindrical shapes. 8 sided cylinders is a great number to start with.
    I usually start extreme low polygon numbers and add edge segments on round pieces if there is more detail needed.
     
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  11. AlanGameDev

    AlanGameDev

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    Although normal maps are definitely a must-have for game art (curious fact: they don't work well on VR) as well as cutouts, I agree with theANMATOR2b: that model has a lot of unnecessary co-planar faces. theANMATOR2b didn't make it clear but you can remove them automatically in your 3d package. In Blender the command to do that is called 'limited dissolve' but I guess the name is (very) different on Maya.

    You also want vertex density to be more uniform than that, as also pointed out by theANMATOR2b. On the wheels you can clearly see some 'sharp' edges due low polygon density, while other areas are much denser. If you pay close attention to AAA game art, especially from the last-gen, you can see that the outlines of the meshes generally have some "pointy" parts, even when looked from a "normal" gameplay angle (not up close). A recent game where I could clearly notice that was Fallout 4. So generally game art is much lower poly than that model.

    Regarding xNormal, it's surely something any game developer needs in the toolbox. However, I'm not an artist but sometimes I do some non-organic arts and fix/tweak models, and I've never really had any problems with baking normals or height maps in Blender (at least in recent versions). I use xNormal mostly to bake object-space normals or other maps not available in Blender like curvature (or convexity/cavity), thickness and bent normals, for all other maps (including ambient occlusion, vertex color and whatnot) Blender is good enough, and I guess Maya is not behind, so tools like xNormal probably won't be necessary for you at this point, and maybe never will be necessary in fact because the maps you need for texturing can be generated by the texturing tools these days like 3D-Coat and Substance Painter... both of them will generate the maps they need (especially for the so-called 'smart materials'). I find myself using these small 3rd party tools much less often and only for very specialized cases. If you're really serious about game development I'd recommend mastering a good 3D modelling package (like Maya) and a texturing tool, Substance Painter is very good and somewhat industry-standard these days although for texturing I honestly prefer 3D-Coat, plus it's also a great tool for sculpting and retopo.

    Since you said you're self-taught, are you using the "LT" edition? Maya is a very good package (although I've never used it) but the full version is somewhat pricey in my opinion (at least for me, especially because there are many other softwares I need). I'm not sure on what limitations the LT version has, and maybe they're not critical for your needs and $50/mo is fine, but I've used Max professionally a few years ago and I can tell you that for game art Blender (which is an opensource 3D package) is just as capable, although the learning curve is much steeper and there are some very useful features that are somewhat "obscure". In terms of documentation it's getting substantially better every day and there are lots of specialized websites these days and it's very popular among indies. The only real drawback is the lack of quality 3rd party plugins, but it's a very complete tool out of the box.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2016
  12. theANMATOR2b

    theANMATOR2b

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    Doh! Co-planar faces, of course! You know that thing that happens sometimes with brains that obfuscates a word or term you are searching for - and instead you try hard to explain it. That happens to me all the time. Thanks for the helping hand Alan.
    I would really like to justify getting 3D-Coat, however I can accomplish the same tasks in Mubdox ($10/month) and Max. But I think it's going to be my next software - just because it's a quality product and team.