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I have a certain geometry. See image. I need to create 3 creases/cavities on the surface. I tried 2 methods, see images. One is Knife Projecting mesh edges onto the surface, and then fiddling around with it. The other is using Difference Boolean operation (including cleaning up triangles afterwards). Both methods give terrible results, plenty of artefacts. What is a clean way to achieve the result? Or do I have to unwrap the mesh and create a bump map with these creases?

Boolean method

Curve projection method

Base geometry

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  • $\begingroup$ I think using the normal/bump map may be the best solution here. $\endgroup$ – Paul Gonet Sep 20 '15 at 16:52
  • $\begingroup$ Is this object a final product or a learning experience? Will it me be seen in close up or distance background view? Will it be highly animated with graceful movement or a static like a stick on the ground? One time use or used many times? $\endgroup$ – atomicbezierslinger Sep 20 '15 at 17:05
  • $\begingroup$ It is a learning experience for me, but it is meant as a final product, to be put for sale online. Hard to tell how it will be used, though due to high detail and rather high-poly count it is rather meant for stills or animation, including close-ups. Not meant for games. $\endgroup$ – Aardo Sep 20 '15 at 17:09
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Artifacts come from shading issues.

First thing to check is to have something that is able to control which faces are shaded flat or smooth, for example the Edge Split modifier:

enter image description here

enter image description here

Better results could be achieved by controlling manually what edges will be splitted. In thdepicted case, the border of the subtracted suzanne is one edge that should appair hard. Select it and Mark as Sharp Edge will help the modifier in recognizing it.

enter image description here

Now the only artifacts that should be present are caused by the tris faces that surrond the border. Shading of tris doesn't look as good as shading from quads, expecially where there are a lot of them who are diverging from a common vertex and plenty of tiny faces along the border (a situation that always occurs whith boolean operations) and also after triangulating N-Gons made of non evenly spaced vertex along the perimeter.

Long, thin, tris (an in minor part quads too) don't have a good shading behaviour

To avoid such artifacts, you should work on the shape of the faces and the flows of edgeloops. You must aim to obtain what is called a "clean topology": the mesh should be composed by evenly-spaced mostly-quad faces.

It requires hard work, lot of paticience, probably you'll have to rebuild most of the mesh, but it is the only whay that guarantee a perfect shading.

enter image description here

Above you can see some guidelines of a possible retopology for the depicted case.

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