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How to Reduce the Polygon Count on "3DS Max"

Updated July 20, 2017

Autodesk's 3Ds Max 2012 software program is an industry standard three-dimensional modelling, animation and rendering tool. Most three-dimensional models have a polygon budget that is ideal for the models' usage. In games, the count is low because a game engine will render the model in real-time. For video, the polygon count can be much higher because the animation is prerendered. The polygon budget will be based on the complexity of the animated scenes and the hardware used to render them. Even a still image can benefit from a lowered polygon count because of rendering time or hardware restrictions.

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  1. Select your model. From the "Modify" tab, select "Edit Mesh." Click the "+" symbol next to "Editable Mesh." Select "Edge." Carefully look over your mesh for any areas where you can quickly remove lines between vertices to optimise your mesh. Select "Vertex." Move any vertices that you can to keep the shape of your model while deleting, or rearranging vertices, to reduce your polygon count.

  2. Open the polygon modifier. Delete any unnecessary faces and create any faces that will allow you to delete others, where possible. An important principle to keep in mind is what kind of renderer you are using. With smoothing groups, applied rendering will not show triangular polygons that are out of place. Depending on the complexity of your model, you may want to adjust vertices and edges so that all your faces are four-sided.

  3. Open the Modifier list and select "Pro Optimizer" or "Optimize." Both of these modifiers automatically will reduce your polygon count according to a set of variables. Optimise settings will by default not modify your model. Adjust "Face Thresh" and "Edge Thresh" to get your desired results. In "Pro Optimizer," click the "Calculate" button to begin. Adjust either the "Vertex %" or "Vertex Count" sliders to get the desired effect. In "Pro Optimizer," you can adjust thresholds for face or vertex welding to reduce your polygon count.

  4. Tip

    Certain programs and plug-ins can help you retopogilize your model if you need to maintain four-sided polygons or control your polygon reduction more closely.


    If you need to maintain four-sided polygons, the "Optimize" and "Pro Optimizer" modifiers will not work because they will create three-sided polygons. You will need to use the first two steps to complete your modifications or retopogilize your mesh.

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About the Author

Pamela Dorr began writing professionally in 2010. She's published several educational articles and tutorials on the University of Houston - Victoria Academic Center's website. Dorr is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from the University of Houston - Victoria.

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