Low Poly is an interesting and somewhat complex aesthetic with a multi-faceted, if short history that continues to this day.    So what is low poly exactly?  The key tenants of the low poly aesthetic are the geometric subdivision of the scene into triangles and the use of flat shading.  It is very similar if not the spiritual successor to earlier formalistic styles of art in that the focus is on the form, lighting and texture.

The origins of the low poly aesthetic were surprisingly, not artistic in nature, but instead stemmed from technological limitations.  Early 3D videogame videogame technology could not support the rendering of a large number of polygons for models and were limited to a low poly, almost blocky models.  However, as technology improved, this limitation was removed and around 2013, it became and aesthetic choice for game designers to maintain low poly graphics.  By utilizing the low poly aesthetic these games exhibit very surreal, clean feeling scenes that are visually stunning in their simplicity.

What is most interesting for me about the low poly aesthetic, is its evolution into the 2D setting and the subtle differences that came of it.  For the 3D setting, such as in videogames, the flat shading is a product of the model’s geometry and a simulated light source.  If the models were to be manufactured, they would be visually the same as in the game.  When applied to the 2D setting, the low poly aesthetic looses that limitation.  The artist can instead alter the hue of each triangle individually and alter more dramatically the size and shape of each facet without worry of the image looking bad from another angle.  This to me, is where the low poly aesthetic really shines.

Citations:

Featured Image: World in Facets: PARIS By Mat Szulik

https://www.vecteezy.com/free-vector/low-poly-forest”>Low Poly Forest Vectors by Vecteezy

Low Poly Eagle By Alex Palumbo

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3 Comments. Leave new

  • There is something about the simplicity of low poly that makes it so aesthetically pleasing to look at. Even though video games graphics nowadays can be super realistic and you can feel like you’re watching a movie, I do appreciate the simplicity that low poly graphics provide.

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  • HI Stephen. I really enjoy this aesthetic in the game Islands, which embraces this aesthetic in its appearance and in its game design. Do you think that there has been any significant change in the low-poly aesthetic, in video games or other mediums, since 2013?

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  • I really like your choice of aesthetic and I feel its one that can sometimes go under the radar (probably because it’s so clean looking). I think you did well explaining its origin and its uses today. I particularly like how you differentiate between 3D and 2D Low Poly and compare their strengths and weaknesses. I would have liked to see more examples of it (maybe a video game snapshot), but the ones you provided are very good otherwise.

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