Creating a low-poly Tree
Creating this tree was very fast and simple, ends up looking ok as well. To create this low-poly tree your first primitive to work on is the cube, place this cube in your scene and stretch it out using the hotkey r and dragging on the yellow axis to get the height you want for your tree.
After getting the height you want for your tree, subdivide it into 4 in height, you can see this value on the right of my Maya interface in the screenshot.
The reason for subdividing this is because we want a place where we can scale out to give the tree leaves. If you want a taller tree or a more full tree, subdivide into more than 4.
If we scale these edges out like this, it would end up like a 3D zigzag line, so we will need to use the insert edge loop to customise where abouts we want the leaves to end/start. You can find the insert edge loop in the screenshot underneath, I have gone through the menues and submenus to show.
I have put my edge loops just under the main leaf edge, this gives the best result in my opinion.
All you need to do now is shift double click the edges you want to become leaves, remember to hold shift to add more edges if you need. Now you have your edges selected, press the hotkey r for scaling, and scale them outwards to form a repeating umbrella effect. To add detail, you can select the highest leaves, double click to select all in the row, and scale it down slightly lower than the other leaves to show the tree is reaching its maximum height.
The final touches are small, but noticable. press F11 for face selectiona and select the top of the log on the tree, scale this down as if the tree has now stopped growing.
Another small adjustment can be made at the trunk, I found that scaling the bottom face down just like the top can look funky, cartoon-like and add to the low poly look.
Exprot using the game exporter as shown in previous blogs, and open in 3D to view. This model is now good to be imported into game engines and used in games, since its nature of being low poly, it already has a very low amount of polygons, it will be very easy for computers to load and does not need any further optimisations.