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I'm trying to do a low poly and high poly version to bake down. I attempted modeling it and planning to subsurf the low poly to get the high. Can't seam to get the round surface right and avoiding ngons without adding too much poly. Is there a smarter way to doing what I did?

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    $\begingroup$ What's the issue with what you've done? $\endgroup$ – Ray Mairlot Jul 26 '17 at 18:02
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It looks like while I was composing my answer someone else beat me to the punch. Nonetheless, I will share what I have. I think you get the gist of it already, but there are some slight differences. I hope you'll find it helpful.

Create the edge outline.

Create the edge outline

Do a spin extrusion.

Spin extrusion

Make some Loop Cuts.

Creating loop cuts

Scale down with proportional editing enabled. (Sharp falloff)

Proportional editing: scaling down on the Z axis

Simplify the geometry by merging vertices...

Merge verts

...and dissolving edges.

Dissolve Edges

Add a UV Sphere with the appropriate number of divisions.

Add a UV Sphere

Delete the bottom verts.

Deleting bottom vertices

Do Proportional Editing on the UV (hemi)Sphere too. (Spherical falloff)

Proportional falloff editing on the UV Sphere

Delete the lowest edge loop of the hemisphere.

Deleting an edge loop

Merge the pedal's vertices to the center hemisphere.

Merge verts

The vertex welding result

Duplicate and rotate by 22.5° (360° / 16 pedals)

Rotating by 22.5 degrees

Merge more vertices.

Merge verts

Merge verts result

It may be necessary to Remove Doubles from time to time.

Remove Doubles

Create a tiling section and use the Array Modifier to complete the circle.

An Empty can be used to specify the rotation angle (22.5°).

Enable the modifier settings "Merge" and "First Last" in order to connect the verts of the mesh as one.

Pedal array tile

Create the geometry for the smaller pedals.

Small pedal geometry

And give them some height.

Small pedals seen from an arbitrary view to show height

Here is the final result:

Crysanthemum Crest: Final result.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm so sorry! I didn't focus on the modeling much so I was able to put it out faster. That's a very clean handling of the junction between the petals, I think this answer would be helpful to clearly understand how to model the geometry. $\endgroup$ – Carlo Jul 26 '17 at 19:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Carlo No need to apologize. Your answer was clearly helpful. And having two different examples to study from is a plus. $\endgroup$ – Mentalist Jul 26 '17 at 19:55
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    $\begingroup$ I love the effort you put into your answer. Cool result! +1 from me. What is TinyCAD in your Specials menu BTW? $\endgroup$ – Paul Gonet Jul 26 '17 at 20:34
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    $\begingroup$ Wound up here from the Stackexchange hot questions page. Never used or intend to use Blender, but if I did, this is the kind of answer I would be happy to find when learning $\endgroup$ – mowwwalker Jul 26 '17 at 21:42
  • $\begingroup$ @PaulGonet Thanks! TinyCAD is an add-on that gives you some extra modeling tools. I mostly use the one called "X-All" that takes any edges that cross each other in planar space and creates vertices at their intersection points. TinyCAD is bundled with Blender and just needs to be enabled. Try it out. :-) $\endgroup$ – Mentalist Jul 27 '17 at 0:52
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Build the "curves" and only then simplify them

As your main issue is dealing with the lack of curvature, I would approach the problem from drawing at the very beginning an high poly version of the mesh (it's quite geometrical, so it should not be a big deal) that you said you'll need it anyway, and only after simplify it to get the low poly shape with all the curvatures well approximated.

Starting from the lowpoly version and planning to then bevel the edges to make them round can't always reproduce the original geometry.

I would start from the main object, the biggest petals, buy placing a uv sphere and deleting 3 of the quarters:

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Then extrude and scale one of the sides. You can now adjust the height. The choice of welding the two meshes constituting the the petals crowns it obviously depends on the needs of your project.

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Do something similar for the smaller petals and replicate the meshes with an array modifier to achieve an high poly version of the mesh.

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If you kept a rather good topology it should now be quite straightforward cleaning of the redundant edgeloops till you became satisfied with the edge count:

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If you stick to quads from the beginning, you'll get a nice flow of the curvature and became very easy to then control the amount of polygons.

Here's a possible result after the simplification. You can obviously go further, but deleting too many faces will not ensure the "curved effect" of the faces. Arcs build in Mesh modeling environments always needs polygons to show up.

enter image description here

And here's the result after another round of simplification. I think after that you'll start losing the appearance of a curved surface.

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