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The problematic edges are small, convex, sharp protrusions on a larger concave, smooth surface. Edge split, smooth, and subdivision modifiers do not achieve the smooth surface I'm looking for. Is there a way to force edges with larger than, say 290 degrees to become less obtuse? Note that I describe the edge this way because that is the side of the surface I'll be viewing (not side of the surface with the equivalent acute angle). Here's an example:

enter image description here

The mostly horizontal lines are where thin, jagged protrude out of the otherwise smooth surface. Close-up:

enter image description here

Using the Smooth brush in sculpt mode with dynamic topology and Collapse short edge enabled gives (applied on various scales for demonstration):

enter image description here

This is close but is there a way to now make the 'crumpled'-looking surface become more like the other smooth surface?

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  • $\begingroup$ It looks to me like the faces on the other side of the mesh are intersecting. Are you looking for a way to fix this with sculpting? $\endgroup$ – gandalf3 Sep 17 '13 at 1:59
  • $\begingroup$ @gandalf3-- I've updated the close-up so you can see that the larger, concave, smooth surface is bridged by regularly repeating smaller convex features. A solution by sculpting or modifiers works $\endgroup$ – user1298 Sep 17 '13 at 2:09
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    $\begingroup$ You could try going over them with the Smooth brush in sculpt mode (with dynamic topology and Collapse short edge enabled) $\endgroup$ – gandalf3 Sep 17 '13 at 2:18
  • $\begingroup$ @gandalf3 Thanks! This very well may be a solution. Please let me test extensively real quick $\endgroup$ – user1298 Sep 17 '13 at 2:34
  • $\begingroup$ @gandalf3-- Almost but can we take it a step further to smooth crumpling? (see edit) $\endgroup$ – user1298 Sep 17 '13 at 2:56
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This topology is so messed up (current Sculpt Mode will do that), it might need a retopology.

Either use a Shrinkwrap Modifier to get a clean result with a new mesh and far less verts (after the rough adjustments, you can enable the modifier to be active during Edit Mode which glues your verts to the surface) or use use the Bsurfaces addon. With it, you can convert Grease Pencil strokes into topology. You need to set the grease pencil to Surface or otherwise the strokes won't connect to the underlying mesh.

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    $\begingroup$ You might want to add surface snapping to your list $\endgroup$ – gandalf3 Sep 17 '13 at 3:46
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    $\begingroup$ Surface Snapping? What witchcraft is this? $\endgroup$ – Haunt_House Sep 17 '13 at 3:54
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    $\begingroup$ @Haunt_House Surface snapping equals the combination of snapping to face with projection to other objects enabled (all connected to the magnet icon in 3DView header). Basically the same effect as the shrinkwrap modifier but applied to each vertex you move while in edit mode. $\endgroup$ – sambler Sep 17 '13 at 5:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Haunt_House see the wiki. (it's actually called Face snapping, not surface snapping :P) $\endgroup$ – gandalf3 Sep 17 '13 at 17:30
  • $\begingroup$ Already found it, tried it, didn't like it. The fact that only one vert at a time is affected means I have to select every single vert. The shrinkwrap seems to be more convenient so far. $\endgroup$ – Haunt_House Sep 17 '13 at 18:54

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