Introduction: 3D Exquisite Corpse With Tinkercad

When confronted with sudden orders to suddenly teach my Product Design Studio course from home, I immediately thought of Tinkercad. Under normal situations, I often use Tinkercad to introduce my students to a 3d environment using this free and easily accessible software. I love the tutorials and it helps ease the students in to navigating a 3d environment without jumping into something quite complex, like Rhino.

I had been thinking of doing an exquisite corpse assignment using 3d modeling, and this situation was the perfect catalyst to introduce it to the students.

Before getting started: Set up a Tinkercad classroom. Click here to learn more about Tinkercad teaching. I input the class list into Tinkercad and assigned them all a 'nickname' for logging into Tinkercad.

Also, have the students go through the Tinkercad starters & a few lessons or projects to familiarize themselves with the platform before starting this project.


Be sure to make a Tinkercad classroom. This enabled me to view what the students were working on, copy and tinker with their models (I only needed to copy, not tinker with), or download the body parts for sharing (more on this later).

Step 1: What Is an Exquisite Corpse? Familiarize Yourself With the History of Exquisite Corpses...

On the Museum of Modern Art website, the term Exquisite Corpse is defined as such:

"A game in which each participant takes turns writing or drawing on a sheet of paper, folding it to conceal his or her contribution, and then passing it to the next player for a further contribution. The game gained popularity in artistic circles during the 1920s when it was adopted as a technique by artists of the Surrealist movement to generate collaborative compositions."

The Tate Modern uses the following definition:

"Cadavre exquis (exquisite corpse) is a collaborative drawing approach first used by surrealist artists to create bizarre and intuitive drawings. Cadavre exquis is similar to the old parlour game consequences – in which players write in turn on a sheet of paper, fold to conceal what they have written, and pass it on to the next player – but adapted so that parts of the body are drawn instead.

It was invented in 1925 in Paris by the surrealists Yves Tanguy, Jacques Prévert, André Breton and Marcel Duchamp. The name ‘cadavre exquis’ was derived from a phrase that resulted when they first played the game, ‘le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau’ (‘the exquisite corpse will drink the new wine’)."


There is a great blog post by Sotheby's Home that gives an overview of the history of the Exquisite Corpse along with examples made by famous artists here.

If you happen to be in a physical classroom, I would first start with making a 2d exquisite corpse.This step is not necessary, but it is always fun!

Step 2: Let's Make an Exquisite Corpse! Create Some Parts (head, Body & Legs)!

Each student will create a head, body and/or legs... each with a different theme. ***

Themes (obviously, these can be modified):






other worldly

You can use Tinkercad, or another modeling program, but you must use Tinkercad for at least one part (or all). Import all files into Tinkercad and save them using the following titles: Head, Body, Legs.

Once complete, you will be randomly assigned parts to assemble in Tinkercad.

***Teacher note: Because I had 13 students participating, there was not a great way to evenly assign parts. For example, if I had 12 students, I would have probably had them make one part, not 3. This would have resulted in 4 Exquisite Corpses. Due to the uncertainties of student participation during the pandemic, I had them each do all three parts so there would be enough to make a complete model.

Step 3: Randomize the Parts

Because I did not want to be influenced by my own taste in selecting which parts go together, I used a free tool to help me create a truly random sample of which student got which parts.

As mentioned in a previous step, Due to the uneven number of students in the class, I had them each make a separate head, body & legs using a different theme for each part. This helped prevent them all from making complete bodies, but made the 'shuffling' of the parts a bit more complex. The 'randomizer' tool in conjunction with my hand-drawn list (note how neat and tidy it is!), made this process much more simple. It also kept a record of who got what part. This came in handy later when students had let the links to their shared parts expire and I had to re-send them.

Step 4: Share the Parts With the Students!

The teacher view in the classroom allows you to view the class list, or there is a tab that will allow you to see an overview of all the designs the students have made. The design tab is where you will want to be.

The next step was 'copy and tinker' each part the students made. I did this one student at a time, which was simple when looking at my (messy) handmade list. Then I used the 'send to' button in the upper right corner. I then chose 'share over IM and email' button, which generates a link that is easy to email.

There are many was in which this could be done. If you come up with a more efficient way, please share it! I will share the two ways that I used. Again, this was because I had an uneven number of students (13) and had to distribute the parts remotely. If you are in the classroom with the students and each student is only making one part, you can have them simply 'share' the file by having them email the link directly to the next person in the group.

An alternate way of sharing, is to download the parts as .obj and send them to the students in an email. I had to do this in some instances because the students had let the links expire. Another reason that it was good to have the list of all the parts and who they were distributed to.

Step 5: Assemble and Admire!

Students then assemble the body parts, and everyone can have a good laugh at their exquisite corpse creations!

Distance Learning with Tinkercad Contest

Fourth Prize in the
Distance Learning with Tinkercad Contest