Hi, Poly: Low or high Poly Preference?

1. Intro

I grew up with plasticine, drawing, and lego. The first one is your “Maya” or “blender” in real life, where you could make low to mid poly “assets”. I later took some clay sculpting courses and created “High Poly” ones. Lego would be considered your “low poly” suite. But they were still fun, and you could create some interesting things:


In their proper context, I like both.

2. Low Poly

Low poly has some practical utility, but it is also the equivalent to a “thumbnail” for an artist, or suffice as a “cartoon” Warner Brothers “Bugs Bunny” style verses the Disney’s Animated films (Cartoon, but much more realistic). It still has to follow the laws of nature, but like bugs bunny these can be exaggerated, allowing for fun imaginative liveliness, yet still retaining a pleasing believability.

So I think it depends on how you develop your models. I had fun with my earlier models in this course, and while they were certainly low poly, it did not deter them from being “animated”: Mr. Mctaggard and His Invention being one of them. I could post the others, but they are found in the Mctaggard topic.

However, I will emphasis that I cannot stand Mine Craft. I tried to like it but could not. It hurts my eyes and aesthetic sensibilities. It is too edgy, blocky, and strangely makes me angry. I like to have some organic shapes in my mix of blocks. At least Lego had that. In Theory, I understand the appeal to Minecraft’s simple yet intricate physics engine. But in practice the game is ugly.

3. High Poly:

These can be both appealing but challenging. It is like still life or gesture drawings. In the creative workflow of traditional art, it is good to become familiar with reality in order to render it faithfully. If you can draw real people or objects at multiple angles realistically, then it is much easier to do anything short thereof. It is the bar to work up to, but in my mind, not one a person needs to stick to.

Try doing chin-ups, and then hold yourself up and stay there for a long period of time… you get tired and eventually have to lower yourself to rest.

4. Verdict?

Should I become proficient enough I would like to dwell somewhere in between, a “mid-Poly” developer; styled high poly, or intricate low, or however one might try to describe that large ambiguous grey area. It is like some amorphous creature that consumes high poly models and over time, in its digestive wake, it renders them down into low poly ones.

As a challenge, or as work requires, I would try rising to high-poly mountain tops, but do not shy away from dipping down into the low poly valleys to rest beside their blocky streams and to play in their simple fields once in awhile.


I don’t think that it’s just a choice between one or the other. I believe that all art is the abstraction of reality. As limited creatures we can’t ever recreate reality perfectly and we need to focus on just what is needed to express the story or emotion.

We need to decide within our limits (time, ability, money, medium )what level of abstraction is needed to be successful. The range is wide too, not just hi or low. Compare 140 to Meta Human. Both are amazing.

We can also use a range of fidelity in a single project as long as it fits the story.

Video games as art is a huge subject and is very subjective. Do what you think will be right for your vision.


I like what you are saying here.

There is certainly great versatility and breadth of abstraction, as well as subjectiveness in art. It is a choice between a certain fittingness, does it fit, as you say, “your vision”? Not only that, does this style properly portray the idea, truth, or ideal well? Some will do so in High-poly, others in Low poly :slight_smile:

Along with this great versatility is an interesting underlaying objectiveness that allows for it all. Since it is reality we are abstracting from, it is reality that we should use as reference for our art. And so having a foot firmly planted in “Follow your vision”, i.e. our imagination, and the instructors insistence on “Use reality as reference”, cannot help but yield good results.

You get both the liveliness of imagination and solidity of reality.

This is probably why classical works are still around despite their variety or age: Bugs Bunny and the Mandalorian, Alice in Wonderland and Homer’s Odyssey, Beethoven vs. Great Big Sea or folk music in general.

Thank you @Gamevana for your provoking thought :+1:

The choice between Low- or high-poly can be aestatic.
But is mostly based on economics and efficiency (less to compute).

You can create a cube with millions of vertices, but you only need 8 or even less 4.
All do share the same look of a cube.


I really like this topic.

For me, low poly is a blend of cost efficiency, time economy and a love for the art you can produce with it. I think that for a solo dev especially, low polygon solves a big issue in term of art direction: coherence. A lot of indie games with mid-tier modeling end up looking weird, either because half of it is from an asset store (which is a great resource don’t get me wrong) or not modeled with the same attention to detail as the main objects. For me, the weirdness comes from the lack of coherence: some object feel like they don’t belong because they were not modeled with the “density” of polygon.

And I know there is always a huge difference between a main model (character, weapon, etc) and background thingy that you won’t even see if you don’t stop for it), but with low polygon, you make that gap slightly less pronounced, and it helps realising a coherent art direction without having to slave over modeling little details. A lot of implicit details can be passed to the texture or a bump map if you need. And, like pixel art, the restriction can lead to creative problem solving in terms of expressing the idea with less details.

In a nutshell, learning to model high quality AAA models wouldn’t be wise for a hobbyist like me; not because learning and modeling one is too hard or long, but because it creates the expectation on the spectator/player that the rest of the models should be the same. And that’s just not feasible.

Oh and there is a super nice talk from GDC Vault about the economy of lowpoly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1oNuKChsdU&t=2s


@Seblecaribou is correct. This has become on interesting topic. Speaking of reality, there is also the business and economic realities that hard experience provides.

I think we covered the whole spectrum, from pure abstract to “need-to-know” practical utility. It is fine to know “principles of reality” and float in the clouds a little, but it is also necessary to know: “Ya, but time is money. And I don’t have the time!”

The difference between veterans and Starry eyes soldiers: It is true you want to fight for a cause, but in the end, you still have to pull the trigger.

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