Good topology of the 3D model. How much attention should we pay to it?

Regardless of what 3D modeling solution is used, the correct topology of the 3D model is relevant to every 3D modeler. The term topology refers to the distribution and structure of vertices, edges and faces of a 3D model. The topology shows how well in your 3D model vertices it is organized. The better everything is done, the easier and faster it will be possible to work with your 3D models. So, it is essential that you maintain a good, clean topology when building your 3D models.

Topology affects many aspects of 3D modeling and rendering, including:

  • How easy it is to modify the model. The good topology makes it easier to modify your 3D model in later stages, as needed. For example, then vertices are organized incorrectly, the need to stretch or compress the required areas of the 3D model may result in artefacts like pinching and stretching.

  • How easy it is to apply or edit mapping. Unwrapped UVs are easier to manage with quad topology.

  • How easy it is to rig and animate the model. If the topology is done well - vertices are organized to make sense of how objects bend and deform, animating becomes easier and look smooth. Otherwise, animation becomes a little complicated. Even if you manage to nudge out some animation, the result will look awful because of many artefacts such as weird stretches or gaps.

As you can see, it is crucial that you maintain a good and clean topology from the very beginning of constructing your 3D models. Maintaining correct topology has numerous benefits that can help save time and avoid situations when the 3D model needs to be remodelled due to the high number of artefacts and problems. Moreover, good topology ensures that you create 3D models using the least amount of vertices as necessary, so it uses less memory of your computer.

Mastering good topology flow takes time to learn. If you struggle with topology but seek to smooth things out, try using a modifier or other tool that your 3D modeling solution supports—for example, SubSurf modifier or Autodesk 3ds Max has the retopology tool.

Autodesk retopology tool for 3ds Max automatically optimizes the geometry of a high-resolution model to create a clean, quad-based (four-sided polygons) mesh. For more details of how does it work, watch the video below.

A clean 3D topology is a key to achieving professional results. But if you are a beginner in 3D modeling you can benefit from a few tips that will ensure your 3D model has a good and clean topology:

  • Use the least amount of vertices as necessary to get your 3D model done.

  • Avoid faces that have five or more vertices. Better make all your faces quads and as even-sized squares as possible. The quad topology will help eliminate artefacts such as pinching and make your 3D model much easier to rig and animate.

  • Knowing the places in your 3D model that will need to be bent or folded during animation, try to create circular loops. They will give a smoother bend and deform.

  • Use the SubSurf modifier to smoothen your surface and keep the number of vertices as low as possible, or Autodesk Retopology Tool for 3ds Max optimizes the geometry of a high-resolution model to create a clean, quad-based mesh.

These will surely help beginners to start and artists who still find it challenging to complete the task.