What is low poly?

What Is Low Poly

It is difficult to find other such controversial topic regarding computer graphics. On the one hand, it is easy to explain what low poly is, on the other hand, it is difficult to say whether 3d model is low poly or not – it is relative.


Low poly is one thing for a 3d graphic artist and one for an artist who doesn’t pay much attention to technical things. Low polycount in 3d graphics means a low amount of polygons. There are also many levels of mesh complexity, see below.

Polygon gradation of 3D model.

Source: Pinterest


Low polycount in computer graphics has been used for a very long time. In the old days, this was due to the low power of computers and game consoles. 3d graphic artists had to optimize 3d graphics so it to be rendered by poor hardware. With the increase in computing power of computers and game consoles, computer graphics are becoming more and more high poly because there are no technical limitations anymore. However, this does not mean that low poly is out of fashion, it is still used in the following cases:

  • LOD – optimized versions of models loaded automatically when objects are distant from the camera,
  • objects in the distance – not all objects must have many details, such as objects on the third plan, objects in the distance like trees, buildings on the horizon are most often very low poly 3d models or 2d textures,
  • small objects not visible in the camera,
  • small items such as rubbish on pavements, items on furniture or small details in character models,

Example of LOD.


Artists such as illustrators have found an interesting use for low poly. For them, it is a form of minimalist art. Low polycount in art is characterized by:

  • sharp shapes, angular objects thanks to the characteristics of a low-polygonal 3d mesh,
  • simple, uniform colors,
  • often cartoonish contactistics,
  • uniquely purposeful photorealism,

Author: Julia Lesnyak

Low Poly Ilustration

Author: Caique Matheus

As it was said at the beginning, it is often difficult to say whether a 3d model is low poly or high poly, and there is also an intermediate version – mid poly. Because there are no set rules about the number of polygons. If the model is made as predicted by the designer, having all the details, it can be considered that the model is not LP. However, if the 3d model must be simplified, because it is required by hardware, it is commonly called a low polygonal model.

Top featured image: Free3d