Low Poly Art: A Complete Guide to Understand its Scope & Role in Game Development
6 Min Read
Posted by: Hareem Mohsin
Table of Contents
- History of Low Poly Art
- Top 7 Famous Low-Poly Games
- Low-Poly Modeling Techniques
- Best Tools for Low Poly Art
- How to Create Low Poly Art?
- Examples of Low Poly Art
Low poly art is one of the basic game design and game art in the development process of 3D animation. There are two polygonal models in the game design and development, i.e., low poly and high poly models. It stands in contrast to the high poly game modeling.
Low poly art stands for low polygon art that entails creating less number of polygon meshes to create game animations, game art, and other game props. They are low-resolution 3D objects that can be used for basic game art. If you are looking for minimalist design art, low-resolution art, i.e. low polygonal objects, can be leveraged.
History of Low Poly Art
Low poly art is a digital art style characterized by using a limited number of polygons to create a simplified 3D model. The style has its roots in the early days of 3D computer graphics, but it was in the 1990s that low poly art became a popular style in video games.
In the early days of 3D graphics, computers were not powerful enough to render complex 3D models in real time. As a result, game developers had to find creative ways to create 3D graphics that were simple enough to be rendered quickly. One of these techniques was to use low polygon counts to create 3D models that were simple but still recognizable.
Low poly art began to gain popularity in the 1990s with the rise of 3D video games. Games like Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and GoldenEye 007 used low poly graphics to create immersive 3D environments that could be rendered in real-time on consoles like the Nintendo 64.
As technology improved, low poly art fell out of favour as game developers could create more complex 3D models. However, low poly art has become popular in recent years, particularly in indie games and mobile apps. The style has also become popular in graphic design and animation.
Low poly art is appreciated today for its simplicity, charm, and retro aesthetic. It continues to inspire artists and designers and remains an important part of the history of 3D computer graphics.
Basic Features of the Low-Poly Art
In light of the information above, low poly art has some core features that benefit game design and game art. Let’s take a look at the core features:
Low polygonal models do not require geometrical accuracy and properly shaped objects, saving the designers and modellers time. Furthermore, the number of polygonal meshes is less than the high poly models; it takes minimal time for 3D objects and game assets.
Due to their fewer polygonal meshes, they are created according to the speed optimization feature. The models with low poly count are proven to be more efficient for game performance than the high poly models with a high number of polygons.
Due to the low number of polygonal meshes in the objects, which translates to minimal complexities, it costs a lot less and proves cost-effective for game enterprises and those who have just started.
Top 7 Famous Low-Poly Games
Low poly games are a type of video game that features graphics with a low polygon count, resulting in a simplified and often stylized look. These games have become increasingly popular over the years due to their unique aesthetic and relative ease of development compared to more detailed games. Come and take a look at some of the most famous low-poly games of all time:
Minecraft: Developed by Mojang, Minecraft is one of the most popular video games ever. It features blocky, low poly graphics that have become iconic in gaming.
Katamari Damacy: This quirky game was released in 2004 for the PlayStation 2 and featured a prince who must roll up objects to create stars in the sky. Its low poly graphics and catchy soundtrack have made it a cult classic.
Poly Bridge: In this physics-based puzzle game, players must build bridges using limited resources to transport vehicles across gaps safely. Its low poly graphics make it easy to see and understand the structures players are building.
Monument Valley: This mobile game features minimalist low poly graphics and intricate puzzles based on optical illusions. It has won numerous awards for its unique gameplay and art style.
Proteus: This exploration game features procedurally generated low poly environments and a haunting ambient soundtrack. It has been praised for its immersive and meditative gameplay.
Journey: This award-winning game features a robed figure navigating a desert landscape towards a distant mountain. Its low poly graphics and emotional soundtrack have made it a favorite among gamers.
Untitled Goose Game: This hilarious game lets players take on the role of a mischievous goose causing havoc in a peaceful village. Its charming low poly graphics and quirky gameplay have made it a fan favorite.
Due to its distinctive appearance and relative simplicity, low poly games have generally gained popularity, and these titles are among the most well-known and adored examples of the genre.
Low-Poly Modeling Techniques
As easy as low poly modeling sounds, some techniques can power up your low poly models game development. Here are the three main techniques that you can use:
We will go a bit further to explain them for you.
You must have heard of the tool - Blender.
There is a tool in the blender called an extruder that creates low poly models by editing and shaping the objects using their vertices, edges, and faces.
It further entails leveraging the tools in two ways:
The modeller can extrude the shape outward to the direction to further work on shape enhancement. It helps the modeller create new shapes, add creativity, and expand them how they want.
The other way of using an extruder tool is collapsing the shape within itself, which moves the shape inwards.
Subdivision is a technique used in low poly modeling to create a smoother and more detailed model. It involves dividing each polygon (or face) of a low poly model into smaller polygons and then adjusting the positions of those vertices to create a more detailed shape.
There are two main types of subdivisions: linear and Catmull-Clark.
Linear subdivision simply divides each polygon into smaller ones, while Catmull-Clark subdivision not only divides the polygons but also smooths out the edges and creates a more rounded shape.
Subdivision modelling can be time-consuming, but it is essential for creating detailed and realistic models in low poly games and other applications.
It can also be combined with other modeling techniques like sculpting and retopology to create complex and highly detailed models.
Chamfers or Bevels
To create 3D realistic models, the chamfers and bevels technique is used. Through these techniques, the modelers can play with the angles and modify the shapes according to the requirements. Bevelling entails moving the shape from one fact to another, whereas the technique of chamfers entails cutting the edge to create symmetry by extending the shape partially to the far.
Best Tools for Low Poly Art
With the advancement in the tools for polygon modeling, it has become easier for artists and modelers to create low poly models within no time.
Here are the top three tools for low poly art: