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When I add a SubSurf modifier, I am able to specify how many for the viewport and how many for the render. After I apply the modifier, it goes away and conceivably applies the algorithm. I am confused as to how blender stores the object result for the viewport and the render separately. Is there a way I can alter the number of subsurfs to apply to the render or the viewport after I "Apply" the modifier?

I guess I am mostly confused about the fact that I have a single object in my object tree but there is this mysterious splitting of the object behind the scenes depending on if I am rendering or not.

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    $\begingroup$ Blender doesn't store object with SubSurf modifier for render and for viewport. It stores you model without any modifiers and recreate model with SubSurf any time that you change something in model or render it. $\endgroup$ – Crantisz Nov 13 '17 at 14:50
  • $\begingroup$ Ahh! I think I see. So when I "Apply" a subsurf to a mesh, there is no separate pipeline for render or viewport. That is only true when the modifier has not been "Applied". This now makes sense. $\endgroup$ – Justace Clutter Nov 13 '17 at 15:37
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What you want to do is impossible, because the mesh was already established when you applied it, if you want to control how much detail you are using to model or sculpt a mesh, you must use the multires modifier, whit the simple division method, so you can have multiple versions of the same mesh, in orden to accomplish whatever you are looking for.

good luck and happy blending.

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