No, the edge split modifier will do nothing to UV maps so leaves textures uneffected. What it’s going to do is effect normals, which will show up in most lighting shaders (this is a good thing!). However if you split edges before unwrapping, when you do unwrap it will treat them as separate peices so they won’t be attached in the unwrap. This isn’t the case if you use the edge split modifier and only apply upon exporting.
Sorry if I’ve got into too much detail here, but just to make sure I am not misleading:
By splitting the edges, the faces no longer ‘share’ surface normals - when they do share, they interpolate gradually over a surface giving in a smooth curved look.
Edge splitting has the same effect as chosing a plane and clicking chosing shade flag - flat shaded faces do not make use of touching faces surface normals (they actually increase the file size ever so slightly since they don’t share). Edge split modifier is just a convinient way to do it for complicated models.
I added an edge loop on the main curved part of the torch to help stop this effect (second image has increased contrast to show the shading that I wanted to remove better).
But yeah, me going off on a tangent. It won’t bother your textures or shader.
For the indentation, here is my process (I do not claim it to neccesarily be the best or easiest way! Just how I instinctively went about it):
- Add an ico sphere, increase subdivisions in options to 3
- Place it roughly where we want the indentation, join the 2 objects, select everything then use ‘intersect (knife)’
- Delete all vertices above the intersection, and delete the faces from the original tube that lay inside the intersection
- Select the remaining bottom half of out sphere, move it up, and, select only the top edge loop and extrude it up. This loop
will be where it attaches to the torch.
5-6. Select all vertices of the sphere excluding that loop we created, scale it to make it smaller and move it up (this is the edge loop I think you actually asked about lol)
- Delete these tube faces, but make duplicated of the edges marked before deletion
- Using these edges we saved create faces linking the sphere and tube together.
- This pattern creates less horrible shading
- All faces completed
- Because of how the intersect tool works, you will probably have some odd vertices lying around, I cleaned these up by just
moving them ontop of the nearest neighbouring vertices
- Remove doubles, shade smooth, done.
I should also note in the blend I posted I merged some of the really close edges of the sphere, like the ones you see in #11, since they’re unnecesary and were just created by using the intersect tool on the sphere.
EDIT: No reason why you should use an icosphere, anything would work, maybe even better.