Tuesday, July 08, 2014

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Second Life Creators and Bloggers Are Making Low-Poly into High Art

Nana Minuet For My Little Friends
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

If you're a computer graphics snob, you might not be thrilled to see the low-poly trend that's already made its way into indie games and aesthetics. Late 90s gaming nostalgia seems like the natural evolution of all those Pixel-based throwbacks as creators who grew up with N64s rather than Super Nintendos find and share their inspiration. That's why Half-Deer's Low-Poly Lullaby set (available in Second Life) maybe won't be to everyone's tastes. Nevertheless, I doubt anyone can argue that blogger Nana Minuet's pictures of the critters and props in the set, one of which you can see above, are beyond adorable -- like something plucked from the pages of a very stylish picture book.

Even if the low-poly look doesn't appeal, be sure to check out Nana's blog for more pics and, naturally, her outfit notes. If you'd like to get your hands on Low-Poly Lullaby, drop by The Chapter Four event [SLURL] to pick them up for yourself.

Mixed reality iris 2013Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times, and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.


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Absolutely fabulous!!!


Umm, don't get me wrong -- these are very cute, but they really only stand out as "lowpoly" because the faces are set to flat shading, instead of smooth. I don't really think there has been a "lowpoly trend", per se, though we probably are seeing more games that are limited by game engines (ie, the engine doesn't render smooth faces as well), platform (ie, mobile devices), and/or developers (ie, a lowpoly workflow is probably easier for a smaller team to handle).

There has been plenty of lowpoly stuff on SL, and some of it is really great work, but people generally don't care about polycount or topology, or the principle of doing-more-with-less.

It's a shame that "lowpoly" is only interesting if marketed as a novelty.

Tesla Miles

Pretty much what VP said, low poly is basically a mesh with the normals set to hard edges and not smoothed. In the picture, I'm seeing a combination of tris and quads faces, so I think that these were not originally modelled as low poly but reduced later on.


All the design trend boffins say flat is in. So, yeah some are doing this because maybe it matches enough. Not sure, but I imagine it renders faster and if styled nicely the polygons become part of the composition. I think also people are drawing up tri and polygon looking stuff in 2D software, once again a sort of half way between flat and 3D and surely removes the realism that is not wanted because it is hard to match it with the animated HTML5 many will want to use.

In reality I think the flat trend is more to do with HTML5 and gui speed combined with rapid iterative design than artistic expression or 3D rendering speeds. You can't spend forever on your interface and it is faster to match flat icons and bits from a few different artists AND faster to modify any if you want. It also allows use of open source software and the never ending costs of the pro software gets to some companies. Hey, besides that programmers are outfitting UI's for the many low low cost Apps popular today. Many are not artists and why do you want to price out good programmers if you are an OS maker? Adobe gets it from all sides, with HTML5 replacing flash and now a style that opens up doors for open source vector graphic progs to use. What will designers DO with all that money they save on PS or CS? Spend it on 3D software.

The trends always sort of bounce back and forth, sometimes evolve etc. Well, HTML5 is also being brought out with WebGL and that means 3D may be really super HUGE. The way to maek a clear design trend switch that makes everything look super new is to lay a flat style foundation and then bring in tonnes of super realism 3D to make all the other stuff look dated. Gotta upgrade your phone, your desktop and all that, it feels and looks old. But, we will see. Graphics cards are getting quicker and quicker at rendering things on the fly. Combine that with 3D scanners and a huge 3D printing craze. You see what I am saying? It is like laying a foundation to allow everything made today to look very obsolete. So, $$$ at the root of it I guess. But, HTML5 and animated elements on webpages makes more sense to me right now. Like Skuomorphic is dead anyway, zoho has some very much not flat graphics and looks fine to me.

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