I'm pretty new to Blender, with my past experience of working with 3D mainly being SolidWorks and Source's Hammer editor.
After previous attempts with Blender failing due to lack of time I've yet again decided to pick it up, in an attempt to create some sort of 80's - early 90's computer meant to later be used to play around with in UE4.
I threw this together:
It looks sort of OK from a distance, but the left side is completely fucked from a little "vent" thing I tried to make using boolean operations:
The face itself is perfectly flat, and it looks completely fine with flat shaders:
I still have basically no idea how shaders actually work, but I'm guessing the reason why this has happened is pretty obvious to someone who does.
What have I done wrong, and what can I do to avoid it in the future?
Booleans in Blender don't work without cleanup. What you did is basically turned the entire side of the computer into a single giant concave n-gon. Concave n-gons simply don't shade correctly. You need to clean up your model and make sure everything is quads like it should be. Looks easy enough on your model, toss in a few edge loops and you're good to go.
Thanks a lot, tidying up the geometry made a pretty big difference:
It's still far from perfect, but a massive improvement nonetheless.
2.8 also made it look a whole lot nicer
May I suggest using sharps for harder edges in the vents?
To me a soft edge around something that's basically a totally unbeveled hole has always created funky shadows for me and has generally always looked pretty... wrong. Using sharps is best done on plastic/metal objects.
Though this is a bit subjective, if you do that and don't like it, understandable.
This is the sort of project where personally I'd subdivide and bake normals to the un-subdivided mesh, but you do you.
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