A low poly aesthetic with procedural tools. Just a proof of concept of course.
Choosing a Sphere
Generally, when choosing a sphere to use in a 3D model, there are 3 which come to mind.
- The UV Sphere: This is the one on the left and it has quads all around the edges but they taper to a single vert at the top of the sphere. This leaves you with a large amount of tris and a high poly density at the poles.
- Sphereified Cube: This is the sphere in the centre of the three shown below. It was created here using a cube and applying the TurboSmooth modifier in 3DS Max, but they are easily generated in all modelling programs. It is comprised out of quads and looks extremely uniform. Since I am going to producing a low poly model I am going to be using this sphere for my land as it allows for a uniform look to the quads.
- Icosahedron or Isosphere: This is the one on the right. It is comprised out of many triangles, but the pattern they are arranged in is more comparable to a football in that it combines hexagons and pentagons. It’s rather un-uniform but is consistent – you know that every tri is connected to 3 other tris.
Now that I have 3 spheres, I am going to apply noise and distortions to them and show you the effects. They are in the same order as shown above.
Each of these has a unique property at play.
- The UV Sphere: The top of this sphere has an extremely noticeable pinching effect. This is not due to the distortion method since I used 3D noise which does not rely on how the sphere was UV Mapped. This pinching is caused by the high-density verts at the top.
- Sphereified Cube: Extremely consistent and uniform. I used a different noise to deform this one, however.
- Icosahedron or Isosphere: The lines which make up the shapes in this sphere are random and form lots of sharp angles. It makes it look very random and un-uniform, but I found a use for this in this experimental model.
My Final Choice
As you can probably tell I have chosen to use a Sphereified Cube in my low poly model. And as you may have also seen, I am using an Icosahedron for the water. I used the Icosahedron for the water because the distortion from the Sphereified Cube away from the poles and equator was very apparent, and due to the shape of it, the eye is drawn towards it and away from other parts of the model.