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Create 3D Voxel Art with MagicaVoxel: FREE Project Files Included

Charles Yeager

In this video tutorial, learn how to get started making voxel art with MagicaVoxel. FREE project files included.

The minimalistic beauty of voxel art is more popular than ever. It’s a fun medium between 2D pixel art and more realistic 3D creations. One of the most popular voxel art applications is MagicaVoxel, which is FREE for anyone to download and use. In this beginner tutorial, I’m going to cover all the basics to get you started with MagicaVoxel.

DOWNLOAD THE FREE PROJECT FILE HERE


How to Download and Install MagicaVoxel

To download MagicaVoxel, visit https://ephtracy.github.io/. From there, you can download the latest version for your operating system. MagicaVoxel works on both Mac and Windows. After you’ve downloaded the application, all you need to do is unzip it. Inside the unzipped folder, you’ll see the MagicaVoxel app.

Installing MagicaVoxel
Unzip the download and copy the MagicaVoxel folder to your Documents folder.

Just double-click on the MagicaVoxel app to launch it. I recommend copying the entire unzipped folder and placing it in your Documents folder so it’s easy to locate. The creator behind MagicaVoxel is ephtracy.


Building with Legos?

What I enjoy about voxel art is that it’s easy for a beginner to get a solid grasp on the concept. In many ways, it’s essentially like building with Legos, which can be a lot of fun because you get to focus more on the creative side of things and less hunting for settings or controls in a vast 3D program.

That’s not to say you’ll master everything MagicaVoxel has to offer in one day, but you’ll likely feel encouraged after your first time using the app, rather than discouraged.

Game Boy Model
Learn how to create an 8-Bit Game Boy model in MagciaVoxel.

In the video tutorial, you can follow along as I create a simple 8-bit-inspired Game Boy model in MagicaVoxel. I’ve also included the model in the FREE project files, if you want to download that and break it down as well.


Amazing Render Options

MagicaVoxel offers a GPU-based path-tracing renderer, which allows you to quickly create some beautiful renders. It also features some stunning material options, such as glass, metal, cloud, and emission materials. These can be a lot of fun to experiment with and allows you to create some gorgeous stylized lighting.

Voxel Materials
Experiment with different material types.

You also have a long list of camera types and controls you can tweak, such as the camera projection, focal length, depth of field, bokeh, and the glow bloom on emissive materials.

Lego Shapes
An example of the Lego shapes available in MagicaVoxel.

Another fun render option you have is the ability to change the shape of the voxels in your scene. There are six total shapes to choose from, including Sphere and Lego!


Export Options

Aside from just exporting still images, MagicaVoxel also allows you to export to twelve different file types. Some of the most notable being OBJ, isometric sprite, and 2D sprites. Because of this, a lot of game creators use MagicaVoxel to create their game models and sprites.

Isometric Pixel Sprite
Isometric sprite exported from MagicaVoxel.

I frequently use the 2D sprite export option whenever I need to create some 8-bit-inspired icons. Most recently, I used some icons I exported from MagicaVoxel in a tutorial for Creating a 3D Card Effect in After Effects.


Extra Tips

Here are a few extra tips that should help when you start creating with MagicaVoxel. First, look for the Hint display text at the bottom-middle of the UI whenever you hover your mouse over a feature. A lot of buttons in MagicaVoxel just have an icon on them, so this can be extremely helpful to better understand what a feature does.

Hint Display Text
Hover your mouse over a feature and look at the bottom-middle of the UI for the Hint text.

Second, if you forgot which color you used on your model, just hold Alt and click on the color on your model. This will automatically select that color in the Palette panel. Finally, check out ephtracy’s YouTube Channel to see previews of the newest features added to MagicaVoxel with each release.


Interested in the royalty-free tracks we used to make this video? Give them another listen:


For additional inspiration, check out these articles:

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