‘Background’ probably isn’t the right word lol. If it’s dumb and nerdy, I’ve likely tried it once or twice. I’ve dabbled in modelling (almost all hard surface/environment) since the 90s (second hand copy of 3d Studio 4, back when NURBS were the hotness). I spent a lot of time bashing around in Max and Maya in the 00s, mostly for my own enjoyment. I have a folder of renders somewhere, I’ll have to dig around. These days, I use an old ass copy of Max like Sketchup on steroids for woodworking projects, just because I’m familiar with it.
Chamfer’s actually a woodworking term - it basically means to take an edge off at 45deg, sort of like a bevel, but not rounded. When you do it in 3D modeling, it means to split an edge in two, so instead of one hard edge on a box, you have a very thin face at 45deg connecting the two adjoining faces. If you chamfer a couple of times, you end up with a bevel. Check this informative video, yo
Chamfering’s important because in the real world, nothing is perfectly sharp or perfectly square, so the brain immediately thinks things look fake when there’s a super hard edge (which is reinforced by lighting). So you throw in a very thin chamfer and all of a sudden that edge looks like it’s supposed to.Think of it as a poor man’s bevel. Of course, it costs polys, but on a basic shape it’s not the end of the world. The only thing that gets bad is the corners, because it splits the vertices in interesting ways depending on how the chamfer is coded to work, so sometimes you have to go in and rebuild the corners to save polys.
Chamfering in addition to normal maps can damn near make an 8-sided cylinder look round, especially at a distance. It’s more time consuming, but it’s little stuff like that that’ll really make it look pro.