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Modeling with Quads for Game Asset?

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Hello, everyone I'm fairly new here and I'm currently learning about Game Asset creation using Blender, as well as game art overall.
I wanted to know if it is "Mandatory" to model a game asset with Quads and then triangulate it after the fact.

Because I'm working with a lot of Ngons when modeling a sci-fi weapon game asset or similar. (Something really complex to deal with quads) I'm using Blender as my go-to tool for modeling, And I'm using Hard-Ops and BoxCutter (That's a paid Add-On/Script) which involves a lot of Ngons because It's a complete boolean workflow for hard surface. I've been told to model a game asset with quads because it would triangulate much better, however, That's not the case with some artists as they can just triangulate the Ngons after they finish working with the game asset.

I wanted to know if it matters that I model with Quads or Not. Because I'm heavily relying on a Boolean workflow for my designs.

Thank you!  :)

- Yousef

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  • Ghogiel
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    Ghogiel polycounter lvl 13
    Depends what's happening in your scene.

    Just becareful, it's not hard or problematic once you know what to look out for to work with boolean workflows, and you'll be fine.  As long as the triangulation isn't really bad on the low poly (lots of long thin acute angled tris etc) shouldn't have too many issues. Any highpoly stuff usually matters even less as long as the surface is shading correctly, that's 99% of the time all you want out the mesh for hardsurface highpolys that get baked to a low poly.

    But if your low poly triangulation is a bit gank, you might not get the best results in game. Some issues arise due to mips, baking, and also during rasterisation.
  • Bozurk
    Ghogiel said:
    Depends what's happening in your scene.

    Just becareful, it's not hard or problematic once you know what to look out for to work with boolean workflows, and you'll be fine.  As long as the triangulation isn't really bad on the low poly (lots of long thin acute angled tris etc) shouldn't have too many issues. Any highpoly stuff usually matters even less as long as the surface is shading correctly, that's 99% of the time all you want out the mesh for hardsurface highpolys that get baked to a low poly.

    But if your low poly triangulation is a bit gank, you might not get the best results in game. Some issues arise due to mips, baking, and also during rasterisation.
    Thank you very much! I'll keep that noted. One more thing, What about modeling with Quads and then Sub-D for Baking? I was told Sub-D isn't recommended if I want to make a high poly version of the asset. Because the Rays wouldn't capture the angles very nicely as supposed with the bevels or bevel modifiers.
  • pior
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    pior veteran polycounter
    You're simply in that weird state where you already know quite a bit of technical things, are being influenced by a highly specific tool that is not "standard practice" (HardOps) ... while also lacking experience to get some perspective on things.

    A few things : 

    • A HardOps/Boxcutter model can look fantastic, but it will not be a "regular" game asset (in the sense that it will not be suitable for clean/regular UV and texturing). Meaning that anything that you read online about game assets and good practice to build them/bake them/texture them will not apply.

    • If you want to embrace a HardOps/Boxcutter workflow (which indeed can look fantastic), you absolutely can, but you will have to forge your own path embracing all the limitations of the technique. The issue is not about tris or quads, but about what you can and cannot do with the assets. For instance you won't be able to give them subtle textured wear and tear carried by regular UVs, because clean UVs require models with each and every vertex and edge carefully crafted by hand. Which in turn means that you likely have to embrace a certain hyper clean/synthetic look (typical of HO/BC models shown without clever rendered materials) without regular UVs.

    • Now all that said, you can also treat your HO/BC models as pseudo highpoly sources, and create "regular" lowpoly models (with traditional UVs) to bake them down to. But in that case you have to be ready to spend hours/days/weeks working on these models and it will likely "feel boring" in contrast to the speed of creation allowed by the boolean workflow. But on the plus side, it will make you familiar with the asset creation pipeline that any game like Doom/Fortnite/Overwatch/The Division uses (with the difference that in these projects the sources tend to be created in full highpoly rather than mediumpoly booleans). And then there's also the Wolfenstein games, in which many of the mech/weapon assets are made by relying on the Modo round edge shader (and then baked to a regular low anyways). Blender does have such a shader/node too.

    The TLDR is that you have two paths : either embracing "non-regular" assets with all their limitations (HO/BC), or, finding ways to make them work within a regular pipeline.

    The answer lies probably somewhere in between with some clever compromises, but to find that you will likely need to master the regular baked workflow first. So in a way, in the context of a game art career the HO/BC workflow can add some confusing friction to an already complex topic.

    If anything I'd recommend a completely different approach, which I notice is being used by Nintendo with great success. That is to say : modelling very clean "traditional" lowpoly assets (with expertly crafted geometry, hard edges where needed, and so on) with all the needed primary and secondary details, which takes longer to create than using a bruteforce boolean workflow but still 10x faster than highpoly+retopo+baking. And then texturing them traditionally, adding bump/normalmap details where needed, and so on. In my opinion this is 100% the best compromise, as shown in the Metroid Prime games, Smash4, Labo. With a bit of elbow grease you might be able to start from your HO/BC models, spend a day to merge verts/redirect edge flow/do all kinds of cleanup, and unwrap/texture such models in a regular way.

    Good luck !
  • Ghogiel
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    Ghogiel polycounter lvl 13
    Bozurk said:
    Ghogiel said:
    Depends what's happening in your scene.

    Just becareful, it's not hard or problematic once you know what to look out for to work with boolean workflows, and you'll be fine.  As long as the triangulation isn't really bad on the low poly (lots of long thin acute angled tris etc) shouldn't have too many issues. Any highpoly stuff usually matters even less as long as the surface is shading correctly, that's 99% of the time all you want out the mesh for hardsurface highpolys that get baked to a low poly.

    But if your low poly triangulation is a bit gank, you might not get the best results in game. Some issues arise due to mips, baking, and also during rasterisation.
    Thank you very much! I'll keep that noted. One more thing, What about modeling with Quads and then Sub-D for Baking? I was told Sub-D isn't recommended if I want to make a high poly version of the asset. Because the Rays wouldn't capture the angles very nicely as supposed with the bevels or bevel modifiers.
    SubD you have just as much control over how the edge highlights will appear in the baked normal as only using bevel modifiers will, thousands of amazing hard surface modellers and models for games are done in subD. So I'm not quite sure what is being said there and must be contextual to the object you are making and not as a general rule.

    Usually people will mix the 2 approaches, even on a single asset, it all depends on the surface anyway. If it's all hard angles like a book shelf might be, you might just go and make the high poly with bevels and that's fine. If there are curved surfaces, you might get a better result subD.  Each have uses and purposes, and both can bake without issues.

  • Bozurk
    Ghogiel said:
    Bozurk said:
    Ghogiel said:
    Depends what's happening in your scene.

    Just becareful, it's not hard or problematic once you know what to look out for to work with boolean workflows, and you'll be fine.  As long as the triangulation isn't really bad on the low poly (lots of long thin acute angled tris etc) shouldn't have too many issues. Any highpoly stuff usually matters even less as long as the surface is shading correctly, that's 99% of the time all you want out the mesh for hardsurface highpolys that get baked to a low poly.

    But if your low poly triangulation is a bit gank, you might not get the best results in game. Some issues arise due to mips, baking, and also during rasterisation.
    Thank you very much! I'll keep that noted. One more thing, What about modeling with Quads and then Sub-D for Baking? I was told Sub-D isn't recommended if I want to make a high poly version of the asset. Because the Rays wouldn't capture the angles very nicely as supposed with the bevels or bevel modifiers.
    SubD you have just as much control over how the edge highlights will appear in the baked normal as only using bevel modifiers will, thousands of amazing hard surface modellers and models for games are done in subD. So I'm not quite sure what is being said there and must be contextual to the object you are making and not as a general rule.

    Usually people will mix the 2 approaches, even on a single asset, it all depends on the surface anyway. If it's all hard angles like a book shelf might be, you might just go and make the high poly with bevels and that's fine. If there are curved surfaces, you might get a better result subD.  Each have uses and purposes, and both can bake without issues.

    Noted! Thank you very much, It was helpful to know all about this. Because I really do love modeling with Sub-D. For example, It's very easy to create a pistol grip's curvature shape using Sub-D than just bevels. Also one more thing, (Is it important to mark the (Sharp Edges) as "Sharp"  when creating a high poly with Sub-D? Or just using the proximity loops / or edge creasing helps? For baking the normals.
  • sacboi
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    sacboi quad damage
    I wanted to know if it is "Mandatory" to model a game asset with Quads and then triangulate it after the fact.
    In my opinion, it depends.

    Therein, for control it's usual best practice triangulating prior to render/baking down your HP both primary and tertiary details too the low, mainly due to differing mesh data processing between IDEs. However implementing boolean operands, if your topic context is further individual hard surface game asset workflow optimisation, then sure, certainly a additional modeling technique entirely worthwhile pursuing.

    On a side note, I've been following Chipp Walters work on NITROX3D for designers over at BA, a native non destructive methodology solely leveraging Blender's modifier stack with from my perspective, eye-opening results thus far, denoting flexible attributes not typically associated with a conventional sub-division paradigm that otherwise demonstrates their intrinsic procedural versatility.

    Which in turn, I'd strongly recommend reviewing this discussion:


    The author outlines a fairly straightforward approach, generating assets via a standard pro-boolean sub mesh operand process, and likewise relatively remains live/non destructive alongside supplemental work inside ZB, as well plus additionally I suppose a workflow that should be transferable into whatever DCC app of choice.

    Whilst as one previously reliant upon traditional modeling over a number of years, personally was a disruptive moment, hence forth.
  • Ghogiel
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    Ghogiel polycounter lvl 13
    Bozurk said:
    Also one more thing, (Is it important to mark the (Sharp Edges) as "Sharp"  when creating a high poly with Sub-D? Or just using the proximity loops / or edge creasing helps? For baking the normals.
    There aren't many useful reasons to mark anything as sharp on the high poly. You might do so to take advantage of things like separating smoothing groups in Max's turbosmooth. Which will use hard edges to act like support loops to hold a shape together when you subD it, but you would probably be adding a bevel, or more loops and subDing further. At the end of the day subD models basically are smooth shaded and it's the carefully crafted geo and the smoothing that takes care of the surface shading. sharp edges are basiclly visual hacks that are used when the geometry doesn't shade well, but a major point of subD modelling is the excellent surface shading result.

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