Everywhere I look people say that animated models need to be one continuous mesh with quads. A lot of tutorials of people who are doing hard surface modeling via poly modeling vs sculpting often model there final object with several different pieces. Like if it was a helmet with rivets they'll model the rivets separate and just leave them on top. If you want to animated the helmet on a figures head do you have to join all of it into a solid mesh? if you do that do you re-topology it the same approach as a sculpt?
I ask in reference to a medieval great helm I'm modeling. it would be easier to model the rivets, and the cross (separate pieces that is riveted around the eyes and seams. I want to be able to 3d print it and but it on a character to be animated. Does the entire helmet need to be one solid mesh? I don't want to sculpt it.