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I sculpted a kind of awful model and wanted to make a little scene out of it. After retopologizing and rigging, frames from my animation look like this:

animation frame 41 The JPEG compression is pretty bad (sorry, my original file was way too big) but the shadows follow the topology of the mesh to the point that they outline the polygons and individual ones are visible.

zoomed in photo

Why are the shadows following the mesh while the texture is mostly indifferent? I've added a subsurf modifier, but the problem only shrinks a bit and the lag grows a ton. Thanks for any help you can provide!

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more close up

Sorry, my other image demonstrating the problem was not great... Here's another one (scaled 200% with no interpolation).

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    $\begingroup$ Hello :). It's kinda hard to see, but couldn't those be inverted faces? That would explain why adding Subsurf doesn't help. $\endgroup$ – Jachym Michal Jan 28 at 16:11
  • $\begingroup$ @ᴊᴀᴄʜʏᴍᴍɪᴄʜᴀʟ I don't think inverted faces are the issue, my faces look like that only when in shadow. And I should have been more clear, the subsurf did help, just not enough to justify the tax on performance in my mind. $\endgroup$ – DROP TABLE names Jan 28 at 16:18
  • $\begingroup$ You can keep just last image with paragraph above in your Q. It says the important (easier to follow for others). BTW if it "follows topology well" it should be the topo :) sorry, can you share blend with the issued part of model? Something simplified and without textures? Or screen of wire. Like that hard to say what it causes. $\endgroup$ – vklidu Jan 28 at 18:46
  • $\begingroup$ @RobinBetts Sorry, this is cycles. $\endgroup$ – DROP TABLE names Jan 28 at 23:43
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    $\begingroup$ Does this answer your question? Some areas of the mesh are dark $\endgroup$ – vklidu Jan 31 at 15:08
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Maybe try changing the world lighting so that the shadows aren't so dark. Softer lighting seems to be a solution to this problem.

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I used smooth shading on the mesh, so the render hides the individual polys (as is the point of smooth shading). But the sun light only lights from one angle, where the polys outlined by the shadow are cast in shadow. The shading can't cast a shadow; my flat mesh does. Softer lighting as suggested by GibThom's answer would work. Fortunately it doesn't make too big a deal for my scene and I can ignore with a bit of motion blur. If you can deal with lag, a couple subsurf iterations would definitely solve this completely.

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  • $\begingroup$ This could be the terminator effect .. this comment isn't a fix, but may provide you with the vocabulary... $\endgroup$ – Robin Betts Jan 30 at 10:21

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