Tris, Quads and n-ons in Blender


I’m new to Blender and have just been reading through the pretty good ‘Blender for Dummies’ book. I was wondering if anyone could shed any more light on this following passage:

Faces in Blender are limited to only three-sided and four-sided polygons, often referred to as tris (pronounced like tries) and quads. Other programs have something called an n-gon that can have virtually a limitless number of sides. Blender developers are working on building this feature into Blender and have made great progress. However, at this time, only some development versions of Blender have n-gon functionality. The current release is still limited to tris and quads. This isn’t a completely horrible situation, however. A lot can still be done with just three- and four-sided faces. In fact, most detailed character models are made completely with quads, and all 3D geometry is reduced to triangles when it gets to your computer hardware.

  • p. 55

Isn’t only being able to have 4-sided polys constricting? Why do extra sides make all the difference? Why is n-gon functionality so advanced? This book was published in 2009, have there been any changes since then? This book does only seem to refer to pre-Cycles Blender and before the new GUI came in, so I’m gathering there were lots and lots of changes not too long ago.


the next version 2.63 wil have ngon with Bmesh
so faces can have any number of edges!

but you can still work with only tris and quads if you want too!


This is true, as Bmesh was merged into trunk soon after the 2.62 release.

It used to be that you had to download a Bmesh branch build, but you can now use Ngons in any trunk build.

2.63 should be released within a couple of weeks at the earliest, so people wanting Ngons and improved modeling tools in the official release will not have to wait long.


NGONs is nothing else than an additional modeling tool / approach which should be applied when appropriate.
Flat NGONs are very good for architecture because it simplifies the mesh density you work with.
For character animation / deformation NGONs can be a problem if the animation tool does not support NGONs. But NGONs placed at the right position do not to more harm as a bad topology anyway. So this is often more a philosophical debate.
For product Design NGONs are a very good addition because it allows local subdivision without the need of complete loop cuts keeping the mesh density low, manageable and also the subdivision surface modifier produces a perfect quad mesh. Another reason why I do not see an issue with NGONs for characters when used right and together with the modifier.

For character modeling NGONs can be a very handy tool to quickly redraw facial topology without extensive manual labor like deleting a face adding an edge subdividing the edge re-adding faces.

I’ve heard of BMesh around the place and keep meaning to read into what exactly it does. I didn’t realise it’s going to be put into the next build though. Any other big changes expected soon? Does it say on the BlenderFoundation site anywhere about soon to be added features and what not? (I would do a search, but I’m in a rush to go out at the moment).

I’m not gonna lie Cekuhnen, the majority of that went waaay over my head, xD. So basically, if used correctly, n-gons can make it easier to model intricate areas, such as facial areas, and can be good for lowering the number of meshes needed to achieve the same ends with quads?