Understanding Sharpening (Ssharpening)
Example 1 (edge split / alternative)
For the longest time this was my workflow for cleaning up parts of models.
- set smooth
- add edge split modifier
This would resolve the shading enough to get the mesh to look decent. But when I would send the model for rigging they would experience issues with mesh's exploding. The faces were all broken at the 30 degree threshhold, creating a ton of additional geo and points.
This was a workflow I leaned from BG back in the day.
Its important to note that on this object the vertcount went from 72 to 142. This is alot for something thats only shading.
This workflow is not recommended of course but it's just a part of the history.
Example 2 (sharp / autosmooth)
This workflow involves using the new auto smooth parameter and not using edge split which improves the shading and keeps the vert count.
After removing edge split and using the autosmooth, the result looks the same. This was added by Blender around the 2.7 era and has been a great addition. This workflow is what we chose to expand on in Hard Ops after the creation of a few additional operators that allowed us to ease the process.
So example 2 works well, in fact it also works in conjunction with marking sharps in the Ctrl + E menu in edit mode.
As time went on it became apparent that even the marking of edges manually was alot of work and could be lessened. So now enter the edit mode sharpening tools.
With the ability to select sharp edge based off of degrees blender's potential improved dramatically for hard surface creation. This was the foundation of the ssharp system. The select menu of hard ops has many functions that are worth experimenting with.
The bevel modifier also can be used intelligently here. By manually marking the sharp edges you can make the bevel modifier only work on areas you specifically want.
With this information you should be ready for ssharpen / csharpen which expands on these ideas in an automated fashion.