Low Poly Models

Even on a fast computer, have you ever had a SketchUp model perform really slowly? In most cases, slow orbiting and the like is caused by bloated models. And what usually causes this bloating is the importing of large models from the 3D Warehouse. (By “large” I don’t mean a model’s dimensions or scale; I mean file size.)


File Size, Poly Count

It’s worth doing a little studying of the Warehouse, to get a sense of what a model’s file size should be. As an example, here’s a cool glass house by Cordelle. It’s furnished and painted with materials, and its file size is a reasonable 6.5 Mb. A major factor behind file size is polygon (poly) count. The count for this model is about 76,000.


(Other factors behind model size are lack of components, large texture images, and hidden objects. All of these will be discussed in future blog posts.)

High-polygon models are great when you need a high level of detail, such as for a close-up rendering. But say you want a fancy car to go with your glass house. A car that’s sitting in a driveway doesn’t need such a fine level of detail.


Searching for Low Poly

If you enter “porsche” in the 3D Warehouse search field, you’ll see lots of great-looking models. 


But to see how large a model is, you need to open its details page. I love this one, but at 4.5 Mb and over 50K polys, it’s almost as large as the house itself.


You’ll eventually find smaller models by checking out each one, but who has time for that? A better way is to refine your search. When you start to type in the 3D Warehouse search field, at the bottom of the window that opens you’ll see “Advanced Search Tools.”


At the top of this window, enter “porsche” in the text field, or title, or description.


And toward the bottom of this window, you’ll find the parameters for model complexity. I’m going for something with less than 10,000 polys.


This search produces many fewer models, each one having less than 10,000 polys and probably similarly small file sizes.


Low Poly Search

Some savvy modelers know that low-poly is in high demand, and will tailor their 3D Warehouse models for that purpose. For many types of models, adding the words “low poly” to your search will get you what you want. I’m not finding any Porsches here per se, but I can be flexible in my car choice.

Also, be aware that just because someone tagged their model as low-poly doesn’t mean it is. You’ll still have to check each one. Setting your poly count in the search itself is a better bet.



About Bonnie Roskes

Bonnie Roskes has been writing tutorial-style projects on 3D modeling software, primarily SketchUp, since 2001. Her website, www.3dvinci.net offers a wide variety of learning materials for all ages, from kids in grade school through design professionals. Her materials cover general 3D design, 3D printing, geometry, interior design, geo-modeling, and more, and future books are in the works. Read more about Bonnie.