3D Modeling Standards: Ngons

Michele Bousquet 3D Modeling

Our posts here on the best 3D modeling practices for different industries have garnered a lot of comments and opinions. One common theme is the question of quads (4-sided polygons) vs. ngons (polygons with more than 4 sides).

We’ve heard from both customers and artists on this matter. Some customers tell us that they absolutely must have quads and triangles, while others don’t care if the model has ngons. Unfortunately, when an artist publishes a 3D model for sale, there’s no way to tell which customers are going to want it. This means the safest course of action, if you want maximum sales, is to make a 3D model with quads and triangles only.

Ngons (left) and quads (right)

When I’ve mentioned this before, I’ve gotten responses ranging from “Of course! I always use quads,” to a very strong reaction from artists that seem to take this as a personal affront. “How dare you tell me how to model!” they say. “I’ve been using ngons for years, and my clients never complain. I am good at what I do, and I am a professional. I am insulted that you would insinuate otherwise!”

First of all, let’s all calm down. No one is saying anyone is unprofessional or a lousy artist. All we’re saying is, if you want to sell more 3D models, use mostly quads plus a few triangles where necessary. If you’re fine with the sales you’ve been getting on your ngon models, then don’t change a thing.

For artists that do want to update their 3D models, we’ve prepared a couple of videos on how to detect and change ngons to quads and tris in 3ds Max and Maya. Both these packages have tools for easy detection, and even some degree of automation for the process.

Do you find these videos helpful? Do you plan to change your existing models to use quads and tris only?