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Traditionally, when you search for an STL of an object, you want the highest quality. However, I found that I really enjoyed the purposeful lower quality, "low poly" look. Low Poly, or low polygon, refers to a low polygon count in a mesh. This is usually the first step in creating something of higher quality to get the main shape of objects without any intense detail. Think pixels in a video.

Low poly = less detail = fewer pixels

High poly = more detail = more pixels

With this in mind, I went on a search for some low poly models. I would often have an object in mind, such as a simple swallow, and not be able to find a low poly version.

This tutorial will show you how to take any STL and transform it into a cool, low poly model!

Step 1: Materials

In order to successfully complete this instructable, you will need the following things:

  1. A computer
  2. Meshmixer - a 3D modeling software
  3. An STL you want to make low poly
  4. ????
  5. Profit

I found that for this specific purpose - making low poly models - Meshmixer was the easiest to use. It didn't take me long at all to figure out how to make some awesome models! You can download it at the following link:

http://www.meshmixer.com/download.html

I also downloaded a really cool Sparrow STL from thingiverse, see the link below if you want to do the same model as me!

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:182281

Now that you've got your software and your model, let's get going!

Step 2: Reduce!

Once you open up meshmixer, click on the big import button, or alternatively file > open

Your model should appear in the window, and you can use your right mouse button to pan around and see your model from different views.

Then you can click on "Select" and (if you are on a mac) use the key combo Command + A to select the entire model. You can also use your mouse to select a specific portion of the model if you only want some of it to be affected. For this, though, go ahead and select every nook and cranny.

Then, once everything is selected, go ahead and click on edit > reduce.

Step 3: Reduce That Polygon Count!

Now we get to see the magic happen. Once you have clicked on "reduce", you are going to make sure your settings are as follows:

In the first drop down menu, select "Triangle Budget", and in the second drop down go ahead and keep shape preserving. I like to use the Triangle budget so that I can easily specify the number of triangles we are going to be seeing in the model. The fewer triangles we decide on, the lower quality and less recognizable the model will be. I have found that with more basic models such as this, shoot for anywhere from 250 - 500 triangles. This may not seem like a small number of triangles but compared to the original number of triangles in this model (99,994!). After playing around for a bit, I settled on 325 triangles.

And that's it! Super easy, right? Go ahead and save your model by going file > export, and selecting the format and name you want for your model.

Now you can use your model for a plethora of things, I plan on making a few instructables showing various uses for these models: such as making an origami pattern out of the STL using Pepakura. I'll be sure to post the links to any future projects when they get made!

Thanks for reading, now go forth and model!

<p>This birb looks so cool! I can't wait to make one!</p>
<p>Cool project!</p>
interesting!

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Bio: Ashley hails from beautiful, sunny, Idaho--what am I saying? Ashley is actually a potato that has experienced intense genetic modificaiton. Idaho does not exist. I ... More »
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