Bevelling Low-Poly (Theory and Practice)

Hi BA peeps!
(look to the bold if you don’t want to read my ramblings XD)

Before I ask my questions, let me say I love these forums. Super informative. Also, I’ve been building and practicing my blender modeling/texturing/animation knowledge for about 2 years, and am almost ready to proceed with legit projects, but need a bit more polishing (because I am a perfectionist).

So! Onto the topic at hand. In the real world, virtually nothing is at a 90 degree angle. Everything has a slightly smoothed edge, and in low-poly assets, 90 degree edges are very noticeable, if not downright ugly. 

My questions are:

  • When modeling low-poly objects, is it better to forego beveled edges altogether, or still add the extra poly count for better appeal? In game assets, for instance, tris - mostly - matter (at least, if you’re not trying to make some next-gen-type game).
  • Also - and very important to me - when using normal maps, can you have beveled edges on the high-poly (therefore on the normal map), and not on the low-poly version and still retain the proper mapping? I feel like this would throw the texturing off on the low poly. Similarly, can you do that with a displacement map (because, although I’ve researched and played with disp. maps, I’m still not sure if the poly count is added when applied, or still just simulated, albeit better than a normal map).
  • Finally, I’m still not entirely sure how to unwrap with beveled edges. If you bevel an entire cube, for example, you have those triangular corners. Do you unwrap the whole corner, or like, go at a V-shape? I ask because, from what I’ve researched, when creating game assets (specifically? not sure), seams add tris, I think? Or is that only sharps?

I apologize for the multiple questions, but I’d rather not create a crap-ton of new threads for the same type of question.

dont listen too much to andrew, sure everything techniqually has a bevel, but its not that important.

the bevel is primarily there just to catch light.

in a game asset, the beveling will heavily depend on multible factors.

level of detail
bugdet - if ur going to bevel everything, stuff will take longer.

as long as it looks good after baking its fine weather its beveled or no.

also dont exaggerate the bevel, 99% of the cases ur only going to bevel it once.

if the shape is really big, then sure, go for 2-3…

the high poly, do literally anything you want with it, only rule is it should look good without any maps on it.

this has no normal map

doesnt matter, just do whatever works. UV map is not so important in 2017, just dont get too much distortion.


thank you for the feedback. Not sure what you meant by “don’t listen to andrew (maybe deleted post??).”

I typically don’t exaggerate a beveled edge, and in fact do it as slightly as possible (but I guess it depends on the aim; I could see a slightly exaggerated bevel for cartoon-ish models).

I think you misunderstood on the 2nd part of the question, however. What I meant was not a high-poly model (I know you can do pretty much whatever), more so the high-poly to low-poly baking. Would it be okay to make beveled edges on a high-poly, to use on the normal map for low-poly without beveling the low (with a SLIGHT bevel)?

So, would a normal map baked from the example simulate those beveled edges on the low-poly, or does the low need more or less almost exact geometry?

ALSO, very nice lamppost! Don’t know if you designed, but I like. :slight_smile:

no i didnt make the lamp post. it was made by Tobias Koepp

and what i meant about andrew, is Andrew Price - Blenderguru. he made a video about “everything needs a bevel” bla bla…

but to reply to the question, yes ofc that works… but for such a small bevel id not bevel the low poly at all.

I would recommend listening to Andrew, but using common sense. 99% of the time he is referring to single renders, not real time applications and he doesn’t do much low poly stuff. Therfore everything should be bevelled is correct and good advice for beginners.

For game assets think you need to imagine yourself in the game looking at the object. How big is it on your screen? If 90% of the time it’s seen from a distance, say 10m, and it’s relatively small - don’t bother bevelling. If it’s an edge of a significant object you might bump into for example, do it.

Also think about what it will do and if the material needs it. Bevelled edges catch the light as barrage said, or more so they create specular highlights (and other reflections if you are using shaders that factor in fresnel). If the material is reflective/shiney like plastic a bevelled edge is more important than it would be on something made of cardboard or even a wooden surface that is dirty because you want to see that specular highlight on the plastic. Your normal map can do this without bevelling the actual ingame geometry, but if it’s big enough you’ll want a low poly bevel with a normal (or just smooth shading with some cuts to separate the flat bits).

lol @ andrew price, yes, i’ve watched a lot of those tuts.

@IZAC, thank you! that will suffice nicely.

Thank all of you for your input, it’ll be a great help.