# Is there a definition for the polygonal art design found in games?

While every 3D game includes polygons, some games use polygonal art design.The overall shape of the characters and environments is often simplified with strong geometry.

Most colorful platform games of the 90's had a polygonal art / low poly approach mostly due to technical aspects.

Games such as Crash Bandicoot, Ape Escape and Grim Fandango come to mind.

I'm trying to find modern day games that use mainly polygonal art design.

I made a search on Google and couldn't find an exact definition or term for this.

NOTE: The polygonal art I'm referring to is not the same as minimal or pixel art.

Crash Bandicoot Title Screen

Crash Bandicoot 3 Gameplay

Spyro Screenshot

Polygonal Art found in graphic design

If there's a technical artistic term for the effect (which I doubt; certainly not in the same way there are "pointalist" or "impressionist" styles), I don't know it.

That said, in my professional experience I've heard the terms "low-poly," "low-fidelity" and simply "polygonal" (or "geometric") applied to describe the style. In some cases the technique can even border on a "painterly" approach.

That last screenshot you provided is certainly going in the painterly direction, although a tineye search for the source reveals references to it under the term "polygonal posters by J R Schmidt," for example in this article about polygonal artworks.

So I'd go with the term polygonal, as you originally referred to it.

In the design community, this type of work is largely referred to as Low Poly.

Here's an example from a graphic designer whom I follow.

In the mapping world, it's know as a TIN, or Triangulated Irregular Network, as each polygon is actually made up of triangles. It is used for mainly 3D raster-to-vector graphic transformations. The pixel-based rasters are reorganized into a set of vertices (points), and the points are connected by lines to create triangles. This triangulation satisfies what is known as the 'Delaunay triangle' criterion, where no vertex (point) is within the bounds of any triangle. The "Polygonal Art found in graphic design" example you have looks exactly like a TIN, as each facet appears to be a triangle. Map analysts use it to visualize the morphology of ground surfaces.

I'm a 3D (and 2D) game artist and art director. From my point of view...

All of your images, except the last, hail from older games that used low-polygon (low-poly, lo-poly, lo-res) 3d models because of limits of hardware at the time of their release. I.e. the look of the game graphics wasn't the chosen style of the artists, but the result of a necessary optimisation of graphic data. Hence the resulting 'look' of the game wasn't really called anything back then, and AFAIK still doesn't have a name today. (Except maybe "ugly", "pixelated" or "90'".)

The last image is different. The way it deliberately shows the unsmoothed polygonal geometry, while actually using a lot of polygons, looks like the artist wanted to achieve special, or 'retro' style. This style is not commonly used though, not in games anyway, so there isn't really a commonly used name for it (yet ?). I'd go with whatever the author calls it or just coin your own title ;)

My colleagues and I would probably just call it "cartoon" for its stylisation.

Calling it "low-poly" / "lo-poly" would 'contradict' with common meaning though. Because low-poly (3D models) are still used today, since even current/next-gen 3d game models are still quite low-poly. The current game engines just use advanced rendering effects to hide the fact. (BTW, 3D models that are today considered high-polygon (or hi-poly) have generally millions of polygons, compared to today in-game models having around 10000 polys.)

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