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Blender modeling best practices ?

Hi all,

I am creating a scene and looking for advice on modeling. My building in work in progress:

View attachment 61243

First question : How do you decide if an object should be a new object into the scene collection? Example with these roof windows:

View attachment 61244

I designed the windows on a new mesh then I merged them to the main building. Is it better or should I put them in a separate object instead?

And finally, how do I decide if I should reattach the window to the other vertices? I read a rule that a vertice must always be linked to four other vertices, is this true?

View attachment 61245

I am listening if you have any comments :)

I'm still a beginner myself in Blender, but for the first question, if something is a small part of a larger object I guess I'd merge it with its parent object before exporting. Don't know if it's required but my feeling is that if it should be one object (like a house or a hangar) in the simulator it probably should be only one object in Blender, at least before you export. During modeling having separate objects probably doesn't matter.

Second question, if all vertices should be connected to each other depends on the type of object you're modeling. If it's an organic object like a tree trunk, an animal or whatever, then I'd say yes, because having unconnected vertices in a model will result in hard lines between parts of the object when rendering, especially obvious when you're using the shade smooth option. On the other hand, when you're modeling a technical, man made object, you might get away with leaving some of the vertices unconnected. A good rule of thumb I learned from a tutorial by Grant Abbitt: If the object is made out of separate parts in real life, you can model it from separate parts in Blender. So a chair in real life consists of a seat and the legs which are screwed together but still are separate objects that can be taken apart. A chair model could thus have separate, unconnected objects for the seat and legs parts. A clay pot made from a single slab of clay that is formed into shape in real life should probably only have connected vertices to give it that smooth look. I started learning Blender with tutorials by Andrew Price (Blender Guru), Grant Abbitt and some others, all are aimed at total beginners and you'll learn a lot about general modeling before you start your larger flightsim projects. Blender Guru has a whole beginner tutorial series covering stuff like basic scene and preferences setup, basic modeling, modifiers, texturing, UV unwrapping and so on. Here on FS Developer you'll find the more specific flightsim related tutorials by Bill Womack though they're made for a previous version of Blender but some rules still apply.

Cheers, Fabian
Hi Fabian,

I started modelling with Blender last year, amazing piece of software, keep it up! Not a Pro modeller yet but I think I can give you some insides based on my experience.

First question: I don't know how MSFS is managing the 3d models but I guess they work similar as in FSX (it should be even better handling more polygons and other matters for sure). Basically, it depends on you and how you manage yourself with your project, however there are some advantages/disadvantages. For example, let's say that you have a frame with a window in it, if the model is really complex and you need to have flexibility it is better to separate the objects so you can position them freely without even touching the edit mode in Blender, otherwise, if you have for example a screw that you need to move somewhere else in your frame then you need to enter the edit mode, select all the faces related to your screw and proceed with the relocation of it. That's not really efficient in terms of time plus you lose some abilities for positioning your model. However, if your model is low poly it isn't worth it because in this case separating the object will only increase the number of vertices in your model (consider the frame window example, 4 vertices for the window polygon and 4 extra vertices in the frame where the window is supposed to be attached), in this case it is better to assign different materials for your frame and the window and keep it as a unity.

There is one little drawback in Blender when separating objects and that is when baking AO or Normal maps. In this case, mixing all objects in one might help increase baking time (did this as an experiment), however, if you have a cage for each component it's better to go one by one in case one of them fails to achieve the desired results i.e. the normal maps. It will take more time but you have more control over the baking process.

Second question: I think there is a huge amount of information going around related to the amount of vertices but that depends on the end purpose of your model. 4 Vertices polygons are the standard everywhere as they keep it easier when working with edge loops, subdivision (turbo smooth), UV maps, etc. however that doesn't mean that you are not allowed to use triads from time to time or even N-Gons (polygons with more than 4 vertices) nevertheless I will avoid the last ones since you don't have a good control of the surface and they might produce unexpected distortions in your textures and can give you headaches for hours if you are not aware of it. So in summary, 4 Vertices polygons all the way, 3 Vertices polygons only when required, and N-Gons avoid them at all cost. You need to consider that at the end of the road, everything will be converted to triads.

Hope you find this useful and feel free to aks if something is not clear enough.