smooth surface without losing edge fidelity?

How can I get the effect of the “smooth” button without loosing certain edges? Example: If I were to subdivide a cube and then use the sculpt tool or proportional editing tool to misshape the cube slightly. I’d have a cube with non-flat sides that I’d want to render as smooth but I’d still want the edges to appear.

there is a LOT of ways to do this… the most popular seems to be adding edge-loops and bringing them closer to the edges you want to look sharp…

the edgesplit modifier is a good way to do it too

wow, I can’t believe I never even noticed edgespilt in the modifiers list.

Awesome, thanks guys.

Also, the Smooth operation works only on selected vertices, so you can limit where it’s applied, avoiding edges you want to keep sharp. That is, if you’re taking about the Editing context>Mesh Tools>Smooth button.

If, however, you’re talking about the Editing context>Links and Materials>Set Smooth button, then Edgesplit’s the way to go, just be careful where you place it in a modifier stack, it can behave differently depending on its relationship to other modifiers like Subsurf.

Dang. I never noticed that button before. I always used materials smoothing with edge splits. Thanks!

You’re welcome!

But keep in mind that Set Smooth (in Links & Materials) and Smooth (in Mesh Tools) act in completely different ways. Set Smooth affects how light is “reflected” from faces, essentially averaging the normal angle across the edges of faces for a smooth, as opposed to faceted, appearance. It does not affect the actual mesh structure at all.

Smooth (in Mesh Tools) does affect mesh structure, by reducing the angle between connected faces by a specific amount. This is what the Sculpting mode Smooth tool does as well, btw, but the Smooth button acts in the same fashion on all selected vertices/faces/edges, rather than being “brushed” on. Easier to target very specific mesh areas that way.

The similarity in button labels is maybe a little unfortunate, but they’re both accurate, it’s just important to know the difference between what they do.