How to make highly detailed low poly models

I’m not sure how to do this, I have tried making low poly models but they never look as good as models in commercial games ( batman Arkham knights menu screen for example, everything is crisp and clean looking and all the edges look sharp ). I think it’s gotta be something to do with the way I’m creating my normal maps. up till now I have been using zbrush to generate my normal, but even on models with massive polycounts, the normal maps look bad, really bad. if you zoom in close on the model, the lines are all bumpy and uneven as is the surface of the model and none of the details look very sharp and clean. Any suggestions as to how I can make better low poly models or normal maps? here’s a couple of models I made, I really like the style of these models, but I think trying to create low poly models of them and retain any detail is going to be a real chore, any kind of advice is appreciated.

these are the models I want to make low poly versions of, these are high poly models rendered in keyshot, I would like to have them look pretty much the same in unreal engine, is that even possible?

don’t know, but wow, nice work!

Zbrush is not the greatest application for generating normal maps. Having a good normal map bake relies on having a good lowpoly, highpoly, and UVs on the low poly. I’d suggest trying to bake in Substance Painter, it does a great job without requiring much effort, and it’s synced with UE4 and how it handles normal maps.

This might help

by the way the models are really great . Did U make them ?

Funny question :wink:

You have to create a LP version of each model then bake the normal map and all the map you need (AO, curvature etc…) Then apply all the map in your LP model then make a diffuse, mettalic and roughness and what you need…of course it is possible :wink: All the chars you see in video games are the low poly version baked and they look as HP, na ?

Keep up :wink:

thanks man, yeah they’re old models I made a while back.

I know exactly how to make low poly models, zbrush-> zremesher, unwrap uv’s, normal map and diffuse and metallic and roughness, then import create materials and apply, that’s not the question, the problem lies in achieving high quality results, basically when I look at my models close up, they appear to be almost blobby, as if the model was made out of playdough or something, it looks fine from a distance, but if you get up close and personal with the model it looks really really bad, all the lines from my models look jagged, even though on the high poly mesh they are perfectly straight, little details look really bad. I know its possible to achieve high quality results because I’ve seen it in a lot of games. here’s a quick picture to explain what i’m talking about.

here is the model in zbrush

here is how terrible it looks in unreal


all normal maps were created in zbrush, I have tried every single possible combination of settings for the normal maps and they all look terrible, even changing the texture group to cinematic doesn’t seem to help, so can somebody please explain why it looks so awful?

How much polygons you use for low poly? How big textures you use?
Hero character in AAA games usually have about 50-150k polygons.

Edit: It seems you somehow loose all hard edges.

I have looked into substance painter before, it looks really really good, I should go watch some tutorials on it, It seems like zbrush is actually terrible at generating normal maps, is that the case? cause I’ve never gotten a decent looking result from normal maps generated by it ever, which is really really annoying, you would think it would make good normal maps, considering its one of the most popular modelling tools around, not to mention the fact that its really expensive.

thanks man, this actually looks pretty good, what kind of files does it take though? ( doesn’t say) is it obj or fbx?

Try .fbx as it is primarily/generally used with Game engines and modelling tools

Well, just calculate your normal map in XNormal and voilà…hu? :wink:
And perhaps take really care about your smoothing group on your LP mesh.

How are you making your low-poly mesh? If you’re using decimation then usually the topology will not be good.

Sorry but I need to ask this have U tried the recent version Mixamo Fuse . Does it work fine ?

Please don’t post questions in a thread that are unrelated to the topic, and no I have not

Import into Maya or Max and make sure to smooth edges you want smooth and harden edges you want hard.
When rendering an edge, a hard edge generates additional vertexes, but is need for hard surfaces.

You probably need to generate low poly using quaddraw, topogun, etc… in order to optimize the edge flow.

not using decimation because as you said the topology is bad, was trying to use zremesher retopology tool in zbrush, but it doesn’t seem particularly good either

I was just testing the mixamo decimation tool, and it’s pretty much the same as decimation master in zbrush, I can’t tell any difference, all those fine details are supposed to be in the normal map, not on the actual model itself, if I was trying to get those high rez details on the model I would need a polycount of about 300k for the model, which obviously is not gonna work. I imagine for a main character on next gen systems a polycount of up to 100k is fine, maybe even higher depending on what else you have going on. the problem is when I use a tool like zremesher and end up with my clean topoiogy , then subdivide a few times, then project high rez details to the mesh, then bake a normal map, and import, then apply material in unreal, the normals look terrible, I have tried xnormal aswell, but it doesn’t seem to be much of an improvement over the zbrush normals, It would be nice if rocksteady or some other high calibre studio would release info on how they created their characters, I would really like to see their process. cause obviously what i’m doing is not working. Am I the only one having this problem? or are you guys having similar problems. its not the topology of the zremeshed model, it looks pretty well laid out to me, therefore it has to be the normal map. but there seems to be no difference between xnormal and zbrush, they both look terrible in unreal, this is a problem I have had ever since udk, I could never make my models look good in unreal engine, even though they look pretty good in every other program out there, weird isn’t it?

I’m not sure if it’s Zbrush doing a poor job or not, I haven’t used it in a while but it seemed like it did a pretty good job generating normal maps

What I do, is do my low poly model in 3ds Max, and then use the default Scanline renderer to bake the normal map with supersampling, which ends up being pretty much as sharp and clean as you could possibly get. There’s also a bit more control over how it generates the normal map in that you can adjust the cage that controls how far it looks out from the surface to find the high-poly object.

Hi LO4D3D, I am a 3D Artist, Lead 3D Artist, on my Game Dev Team and routinely make Sci Fi Characters and all sorts of other Hard Surface game models for Unreal Engine 4. I am 99% certain I know how to solve your problems. It basically comes down to the techniques you are using to bake your Normal Maps. And I’d be happy to help you solve these issues.

You can see my portfolio here:

By the way your High Poly models are excellent! :smiley:

Drop me a message on Skype and I’ll work through solving the problems with you. Skype username: dyotoorion5.

I re-iterate, as others have said, that Decimation will definitely not work for your low poly. Don’t use decimation for creating Low Poly game models.

Best of luck! :slight_smile: