Are you interested in creating Low Poly models using existing models?
This tutorial will show you how to create low poly models for 3D printing using free software!
If you'd prefer a video tutorial, you can find one I made on YouTube.
This process works with just about any .STL file you want to use, and creates a low poly faceted look that can create some very interesting models!
- Blender 2.8
- Cura (optional)
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Step 1: Pick a Model
The first step of this process is picking a model. We are going to use a process known as 'decimation' to reduce the overall number of polygons used in the model. This process works great on models that have higher poly counts which tend to have higher surface detail.
Models such as animals, people, and scans of sculptures are great candidates for this process. For this tutorial, we'll be using a model of a cat that was created from a scan and uploaded by Thingiverse user BENITOSANDUCHI. Feel free to substitute in your own model, or use this one to follow along.
Step 2: Load Your Model Into Blender
We'll be using Blender for this process, so this first step will be to import your model into Blender. You can import a model by selecting File-Import-.STL from the main toolbar.
Once imported, take a minute to get familiar with the Blender environment. Take a minute and watch or read some Blender tutorials if you want to get more familiar with the program, but it's not required for this process.
Once your model is imported, we can move on the next step and begin editing it!
Step 3: Create a Decimate Modifier
With the model selected, select Modifier-Add Modifier-Decimate to active the decimate modifier. From here, we can adjust the amount of polygon reduction and get an updated polygon count on our model.
Step 4: Adjust the Decimate Ratio
Here's the fun part! Adjust the Ratio slider until you are satisfied with the appearance on your model. This part is entirely subjective, and I encourage you to experiment and see what happens when you reduce the face count by 95% or more!
For our model, we're going to set the ratio right around 0.015 and start cleaning up the model from there.
Step 5: Check for Intersecting Geometry or Other Errors
Sometimes when reducing the polygon count substantially, the model can have some faces that overlap, intersect, or are no longer needed.
Before exporting the model for printing, check for any of these errors and clean them up using Select-Delete-Face and Select-Fill to create a mesh that is ready to be printed.
Step 6: Export .STL File
Once satisfied, export the model using File-Export-.STL to save the mesh.
Step 7: Send to Printer
Using your printer software, import the .STL file and prepare it for printing. Here you can see if there were any errors during the export, and it's possible to go back and correct them at this point by simply reimporting the mesh.
Step 8: Print and Share Your Model
That's it! The last step is printing and sharing your model!
How did the process work? Were you able to create a low poly model? What part was easiest and what was the hardest?
Feel free to share your model with me over on Twitter, and let me know if there's anything you think I missed or want to cover in greater detail.
Thanks for reading, and have fun printing! For more tutorials and 3D printing guides, check out my YouTube page.
If you want to print out the low poly cat model from this tutorial, you can find it on Thingiverse.