Last year I wrote about how to use InstaLOD in Reallusion's iClone to make drastic poly count reductions in your models while retaining form. Then I used InstaLOD Studio XL for a review and found it be every bit the tool I was looking for in mesh optimization. Since that time I regret to say I had so many irons in the fire that I have not been able to get back to this tool till now. Regrettably, that was a mistake on many levels.
While I remember InstaLOD as a great tool I forgot about all the different options the Studio XL version provides. I was excited to get back to it but, because of the time passed, I will have to reacquaint myself with the software. That said I decided to dive right back in without looking at any tutorials or help files to see what I could get.
I do not mean to disparage anyone that takes the time to read the manual and kick the tires but I'm of a mindset that jumps in without checking to see it has air in the tires much less the tires themselves. Since optimization is not all that sexy (sorry InstaLOD… it's just not) the results can be if you work in high detail for a low poly environment.
So, sort of like the old vacuum cleaner sales pitch of yesteryear where a salesman threw dirt on your carpet I bashed together a high poly character mesh north of 8 million polys. Enough to choke a lot of different software but manageable even though it might be slow.
Again, without guidance of any sort, I dove right into optimizing the mesh with the OP tab. At the high polycount, it took a while to load as you would expect. I went right to the point and dropped the first slider I saw to 1 percent… (that's right 1) and let it chug along doing whatever these mesh optimizer things do.
The optimized mesh at 89K at left with the original mesh at 8.9 Million on the right
Whatever it is… I sure don't want to do it manually anymore. I'm more glad to wait out the process since that wait is nothing compared to the hoops I would have to jump through, and the time taken to reduce the mesh by previous methods. Actually the previous method was more of a pipeline of applications than a method.
And whatever it was doing was certainly spinning up the fans in my computer as I could hear the thing starting to hum every once in a while.
Once it finished, with a polycount of 89,280 it looks good, very good. You can make your own comparison but quite a bit of the detail is still there and this mesh is one percent of the beginning polycount. Now in fairness, being ZBrush, the mesh is two-sided and you cut mesh down 50 percent or so by eliminating the inside walls but what fun is that when we're crunching polys.
Now I know what you are thinking, 89k is still a high poly count for some low poly applications but keep in mind this was without reading a thing or reviewing a tutorial. Just dive in and do it. In future installments, I'll be looking into the workings of each optimization tool and the settings within those tools to see if we can further reduce the character and retain details. I'm also showing the mesh optimization without textures, so we can see the mesh detail better.
If you spend time in the popular low poly environments of game development or real-time filmmaking then follow along with me as we continue to hammer at this mesh to obtain the best optimization results while discovering all the tools InstaLOD Studio XL puts at our fingertips
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website.