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Consider this model of a tank turret:

enter image description here

The following model has smooth, round surfaces that meet at sharp corners. This is achieved with a high number of subdivisions and marking certain edges as sharp in the software.

enter image description here

But I need to obviously get a low poly model for real time rendering. In the modeling tool I'm using, Blender, I have the option to shade any faces smoothly, but I can't seem to figure out how to get the smooth curved surfaces to come to sharp edges, so maybe I'm not on the right track.

How do I shade / model low poly smooth surfaces that come to sharp edges?

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You need to set the mesh to smooth, then "cut" the edges that have to be sharp by duplicating them.

You need to select the edges you want to make sharper, then hit Ctrl + E and choose the "edge split" option:

enter image description here

The normals automatically orient themselves:

enter image description here

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Ctrl E.... I did not know there was a bevel option. This changes everything... \$\endgroup\$ – Viziionary Jan 12 '18 at 4:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Instead of manually splitting each edge, you can use an edge split modifier. Apply it when you are ready to export. You can manually mark some edges as sharp to control what gets split. \$\endgroup\$ – sambler Jan 14 '18 at 10:22

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