There you are, playing a game, and without thinking about it you run by a bird off in the distance. However, the odds are very high that the bird you ran by was nothing more than a few simply textured polygons pretending to be a bird. And yet it worked.
Back in October a new Twitter account popped up. @Lowpolyanimals is great and you should be following it. Sadly, as a fan of low-poly animals, I only recently discovered this account. But now I’m obsessed with it and all the wonderful creatures it shares.
Look at that rat above. It has so few polygons and some of them are so big, you can easily count them without having to open an editor or check out more details about its model. Its feet are mostly long and skinny triangles with a roughly-skin-looking textured stretched across them. And yet, you, me, your dad, a random person online, and everyone else can tell you what this is. It’s a rat.
Isn’t that magical? I think so. Here’s another great example: A bird from Mario 64 DS.
Again, it’s clearly a bird, even though it lacks even less detail than the rat above. It does make me wonder: How far can you go? How few polygons and textures can you get away with before your low-poly animal just looks like a square or a triangle, and not an animal?
These shrimp from Runescape are probably getting close to the point where they stop looking like creatures and start looking like amorphous blobs of digital clay. But yet, even with so few polygons and details, these do look like shrimp. Though it might take you a few moments to come to that conclusion.
A few days ago, I was playing Halo Reach on my Xbox Series X. It looks better than ever now on the new machine! And then I turned a corner and a lonely low poly rat appeared. It just slid around the floor, unlike how any rat in history has ever moved. Yet, with so few polygons, a low-resolution texture, and no animations, I was still able to quickly get what it was and that’s the true beauty of low poly animals. You don’t need much to sell people on an object being an animal. This is essentially a digital form of shadow puppets. People using little to create a dog or a horse or a bird. And if you do it right, you can convince folks that a couple of random shapes stuck together and given some motion are actually animals.
Smarter folks than me can probably dig into that and come up with something poetic or meaningful. Me? I’m just into the low poly rats, birds and bugs who appear in games both old and new. And if you are too, you should probably follow