Considering the recent popularity of low-poly 3D models, I was surprised no one had written a tutorial on how to make one. I’ll try to make it simple, but feel free to contact me with any questions! I’m still pretty slow with Blender, but here’s my best shot!

STEP 1:
Import your model into Blender

This is what you'll be looking at in BlenderThis is what you’ll be looking at in Blender

I chose to work on the ‘Andrew Bust’ model, due to the extremely high detail on the model (over 500,000 faces!). This model clocks in at 25+ MB, and takes a second to load. The finished version has 2,200 faces, a ~99% reduction in complexity.

STEP 2:
Open the ‘Modifier’ Menu, and select Decimate

Clicking the Wrench will bring up the list of Modifiers Clicking the Wrench will bring up the list of Modifiers
'Decimate' is what you're looking for‘Decimate’ is what you’re looking for

STEP 3:
Adjust the Decimate Amount

BeforeBefore
AfterAfter

Due to the high number of faces in this model, I had to take the ratio down to .005 before I was really satisfied. With most models, you will start to see the effect much faster. The lower the face count, the more pronounced the effect becomes.

Play around with this setting until you’re happy with the model.

STEP 4:
Export the new low-poly .STL

Easy enough! You can download the low-poly version of my model here.

STEP 5:
Print the model!

DSC_0039 DSC_0040

I printed out the low-poly model, but there was a lot of discoloration from the support removal. I gave the model an acetone vapor bath in an attempt to make it more uniform.

Unfortunately, I went a little overboard on the acetone, and wound up melting the model a bit. This caused the model to look smooth, totally defeating the purpose of the low-poly rendering! Aargh!

DSC_0078After the acetone vapor bath
DSC_0098After the acetone vapor bath