We’re making de_dust2 in Blender in the low poly style, and this tutorial goes over tips for adding colour, higher resolution details and setting up a low poly scene. If you just got here, you can find the first part (Basemesh modelling) here.
Here’s a few tips that you might find useful, that I’ve learned over the course of making this. 1. You can use a basemesh to great effect, by setting its viewport-display property to wire or bounds (Object settings), and then replace it with a higher resolution model. I use this technique to create and place the hay blocks. 2. The insides of things, like the hay blocks, do not need to be rendered. There’s a simple shell of hay bricks stacked in a random spiral, and the interior is ignored (not filled in). 3. You can see what parts of the props you make can be duplicated, and set them as their own objects. Keep a copy somewhere in the scene. Also, make little edits to each prop that’s reused to add detail. 4. Use the bevel + extrude tools (Ctrl + B, Ctrl + E) to your advantage to add beams, struts and other protrusions. Select and edge and bevel it to create a face from the edge, and then extrude it out or in to make a solid protrusion. 5. I like creating mesh details by adding geometry, rather than by adding complex textures. This is because I don’t want to make a “low poly” specific texture, as it is unnecessary where it can simply be made by mesh manipulations. Using a 4K texture on a low-poly mesh is a bad idea, as it will be jarring to look at and inconsistent, resolution wise. Use this for things like bricks, shingles, posts and other repeated patterns. 6. You can stylize your lighting. I added lights in the entranceways and on the bomb plant area in Dust 2’s B-Site, which don’t exist in the game but add a lot of contrast and interest. 7. Change the colours with Lift - Gamma - Gain in the compositor. This node can let you change the colour of the shadows (lift), midtones (gamma) and highlights (gain) to your heart’s content. Since Dust2 is set in a desert, I add red gain for warm, desert-y lights and bluish lift for cool shadows. 8. Use the Freestyle tool to add mesh outlines, though you should be careful with the line thickness. It makes everything more pronounced, and lets you see exactly where all the props are.
Making low poly art takes a lot of attention to detail, suprisingly, and it is absolutely paramount to keep all your meshes at an approximate constant level of detail, otherwise the inconsistency will throw off your scene. The use of simple materials and lighting, coupled with more complex geometry, will really complement your scene.
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Thanks for reading, and I hope this tutorial inspired you to make some cool low-poly art. Leave a comment for any questions you have.