What are some common techniques for making the edges on a tesselated shape less apparent without increasing the amount of tesselation which is actually carried out?
As an example, I followed along with this tutorial on tesselation shaders, and one can control the inner and outer tesselation levels. With relatively low levels of both, one can achieve a pretty good sphere. However, in order for the surface to actually appear smooth, a fairly bright light seems to be required.
This particular implementation uses triangular tesselation beginning from an icosahedron to approach a sphere.
My understanding is that performing the tesselation with quads would result in a smoother surface.
Here is a picture which illustrates how direct lighting makes it much harder to see the level of tesselation. On the top right of the sphere, where the light is hitting it strongly, no edges are visible, wheres on the bottom left, the edges can easily be seen. Perhaps in practice, simply applying a texture would mask many of the edges?