Easily transform any medium to high detailed .stl file into the popular low poly stylized look. To achieve the low poly look on your model, the Blender software modifier called "decimate" will be employed. The finished project will have the minimum amount of polygons, but enough to describe the intended form and be able to print on a fused filament 3d printer.
Overview and Background
What is Low Poly? What is Low Poly used for?
The word “poly” means “polygon,” a 2-dimensional shape made of straight lines. The low poly look is one that describes a shape or form with the minimal shapes, void of detailed texturing. This technique looks great on models that where originally organic (round, curving, animals, plants, etc,). Low poly art work is used to decrease render time in digital work, as a quick rough sketches in the planning stage of the animation pipelines, and a popular look used in video games, illustrations, and sculpted home decorations.
For the teachers teaching Art.
The low poly look creates a pattern of triangles across the entirety of the form.
The Elements of Art are: line, shape, form, space, texture, color and value.
The Principles of Design are: balance, contrast, emphasis, movement, pattern, rhythm, and unity.
This lesson deals primarily with pattern; specifically the pattern of simple polygons over the model. The extension challenges of creating Voronoi, Wireframe, and Voxel styles also rely on a overall sameness of pattern across the digital form. Extension challenges are found at the bottom of the step-by-step instructions.
Lesson Plan and Activity
The Steps correspond to the images provided. I’m using a Mac, a PC works for this tutorial also.
Download Blender from https://www.blender.org/download/
After Blender is loaded, click anywhere to make the Splash Screen disappear.
The default workspace as a cube, light, and camera in it.
Click the “A” key twice to select the cube, light, and camera
Click the “X” key and choose “enter” to delete the cube, light, and camera
Go to “File”, “Import”, and and choose “Stl”
Locate location where you saved desired .stl file to be altered, click “Import STL”
Click “Modifeirs” wrench on far right
Click “Add Modifier” and choose “Decimate”
Left Click and drag the “ratio” slider to the left in the decimate modifier until desired effect is seen on the now low poly bishop
Just because it looks pretty with lots of detail in the window doesn’t mean you’ll see all that detail when you print. It’s best to be bold and decimate allot. You’ll want to see more extreme degree changes between the faces, instead of subtle ones that won’t be noticed on such a small print.
Click “File”, “Export”, “Stl”
Select the destination to safe you low poly file, name the file, then click “Export STL”
Open MakerBot Print.
Drag and drop your low poly .stl file in the MakerBot Print workspace
Click on the “Scale” tool on the right
Left click on the Z scale and type “70” for 70 mm for the height
Lastly, send your model to the printer
1 hour for design time, 1-3 hours printing (varies upon chosen print detail)
This tutorial can be completed without basic navigation and object manipulation. It's highly encouraged that the educator of this lesson take the time to learn the basics of Blender. YouTube is a great resource to use when learning how to pan, zoom, and rotate your models in Blender.
Rubric and Assessment
Summative (Pass): The provided bishop model was clearly decimated to a Low Poly resolution. The Low Poly Bishop is 3D Printed at the height of 70 mm. Raft as been removed (if applicable) and no evidence of support material scarring is seen on the model.
Formative = Ask if a student is understanding the assignment and/or offer assistance when clearly needed. Occasionally browse student progress. When interacting with student, complement student on what is going well for them in their project when offering constructive criticism.
Incomplete: If any of the above constraints are not met.
Differentiated Learning Activities
Use Tinkercad to transform a model into the Voxel look (click on the Minecraft Pickaxe on the type right of the Tinkercad graphical user interface).
Create the Voxel look in Blender using a different modifier.
Metamorphosis: make a regular model gradually change to a patterned model.
Create a series of differing patterns reusing the same base model (iteration).
Use Meshmixer software to create patterned prints http://www.meshmixer.com/download.html
Print a highly complex pattern using dissolvable filament on a dual extrusion machine, such as the MakerBot Replicator 2X.
There you have it! You've learned how to take any detailed .stl file and transform it into the popular low-poly look.