Introduction: Making and Printing 8bit Models Using MagicaVoxel

It's a rainy day, so I'm stuck inside trying to find something to do. I look down at down at my 3d printer. I feel like making something, however, I don't feel like spending hours designing a 3d model. Feeling slightly defeated, I turn on my phone and open up the first game I see.

That's when I get an Idea...


To design your own 8bit models, download MagicaVoxel here

Windows/Mac (Works well with wine) -------Please note that the Latest Mac version is 0.99.4.

You will also need an external mouse

(If you feel like subjecting yourself to endless amounts of pain and suffering, feel free to use a track-pad)

If you want to 3d print it, you will need access to a 3d printer, filament, and a slicer (I'm using cura)

Step 1: Download and Run MagicaVoxel

After extracting the zip, open up the folder and double click MagicaVoxel.exe (windows) or (Mac)

If you are on macOS, you may need to go into your Security and Privacy settings to allow the program to run.

You will be greeted to a blue cube.

To move the camera around the cube: right click and drag. To pan: click the scroll wheel. To zoom, scroll in and out.

As you move your cursor over the buttons in the program, a description of that button will be displayed at the bottom, along with that button's keyboard short-cut.

Step 2: Creating and Destroying Blocks

  • To delete blocks, select "Erase", Then click on the blocks you want to delete.

--To delete all blocks, click "all" and then "cut"

  • To add blocks, select "Attach" (notice that the cubes you add will be the color of highlighted color, on the color pallet)
  • To paint existing blocks, select "paint".

--Painting blocks paints the whole block. You cannot paint two faces of the same cube different colors

--at the bottom of the paint pallet, there is a drop-down menu with color sliders and a spot to input custom hex color codes.

And that's basically it.

From this step onwards, I'll be showing you how to use some of the more advanced features of MagicaVoxel by making my own model. Feel free to follow along,


skip to step:7 for a guide to rendering your model

or skip to step:8 For a guide to 3d printing your models

Step 3: Adjusting the Workspace and Using the Line Tool.

To change the workspace size, click the top right box and input the desired size. (x,y,z). I am setting my model to be 8x8x8. (the maximum for each model is 128x128x128)

I then changed the brush mode to line. Make sure that when you are using the line mode, you change "project" to "straight". That will force the line to go directly between two points, instead of wrapping all the way to the back of your model.

Right now I'm making a pot for the cactus to sit on.

Step 4: Using the Face Tool, Utilising Color As a Restraint

So now that I have an outline for the pot, I am going to fill it in. To do this, I'm going to use the Face tool, which extrudes a block outwards.

Select "F" and switch from pallet to raw to maintain the block color.

Then I just clicked and dragged the faces I wanted to extend. I made sure to fill in the pot fully

I then painted with a different colour, the area of the pot I wanted to remove. I set it to erase, and made sure that the face tool was in the color mode (col) so that it'll only erase the dark blue. I hollowed the rest of the put using the box mode, and made the top bit of the pot a bit thicker using the face tool again.

I then changed the pot color using the bucket tool. The bucket tool changes every instance of a color in a model to the selected color.

(It gets interesting after this, I promise)

Step 5: 𝙐𝙨𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝓦𝓸𝓻𝓵𝓭 𝓮𝓭𝓲𝓽𝓸𝓻 . (and Voxel Mode)

The world editor lets you create multiple models in a scene, allowing you to create really complex renders. I'm using the world editor to create separate parts, making it easier to 3d print.

To get to the World editor, press tab or click the Arrow button near the workspace resizer box. Click again to change back to the model editor. To change models for editing, click on that model before exiting the world editor. You cannot edit two models at the same time.

Here, I copied the pot model, and pasted it above the original. I cleared the model and created a lid for the pot, with a hole for the cactus. I did this using the voxel mode, making sure that it was set to sphere and 2D. I then did some "complex trigonometry" (dividing 8 by 2) to find a circle size that would fit in the centre of the lid. Copying the model in the world editor, I pasted it above the lid and cleared the model.

setting it to addition, I created the base of the cactus, extruding it with the face tool. I extended the model, creating the rounded tip with the voxel tool, changing 2d to 3d. Then I made the arms with the same tool, reducing the size.

MagicaVoxel cannot export multiple models as one .OBJ file. You will have to fuse the models together using another program or fit everything into one 128x128x128 model.

Step 6: Increasing the Resolution of Your Model

I wanted to add a little boarder around the top of the lid, however the voxel resolution is too low to create subtle details. To increase the resolution, I doubled the workspace size by two, for each of my models. Then I Increased the scale of each model by two.

Step 7: Rendering Your Model

The included rendering mode, is what makes MagicaVoxel one of the most popular voxel editing program. There is just so much there.

To enter the rendering mode, click "Render" at the top left of the screen. Click "Model" to go back.

On the render screen, you can set material properties for each color with different modes (Diffuse,Glass,Emission,cloud,Plastic and metal).

You can change the lighting, the resolution, the amount of bloom, and even the way the voxels are rendered. Once you are done, render out the image by clicking the image icon to the right. (make sure to save your work) A higher resolution and quality will take longer to render. The render will be saved in the export folder.

If you are using a laptop, don't be afraid to crank up the settings and cook your breakfast at the same time.

If your models are getting cut in half, make sure that you have turned sparse geometry on (click the bars icon to the left and look under geometry)

Step 8: 3d Printing Your Models

Go to the world edit screen, Highlight all of the models you want to print. Click .obj under export to save your model as a 3d object.

Open up your favourite slicer. (I'm using cura as It's pretty easy to use)

Open up the model/s.

Resize the model/s (in cura, shift click each model to select them all).

For my cactus models, you will want to make the lid slightly bigger than the cactus, and you will also want to resize the pot base slightly bigger than the lid. I am printing with tree supports, a raft, 20% infill (10% will be fine, I just wanted some weight behind the print), and a 0.2mm layer height.

Turn on support for large overhangs.

Save G.code and print.

If you don't have a 3d printer you can use any 3d printing service you like (I would suggest checking your local library first, It'll probably end up costing less to print).

Step 9: Crying Because the Power Went Out Mid-print :(

Yeah, It's probably not a good idea to start a print when there is a huge storm outside.

Let's hope that attempt number two goes better

Step 10: Banging My Head on My Desk for Twenty Minutes Because I Accidently Stopped the Printer Mid-print.

You know how many hours it took me to print... 8 HOURS.

20 minutes before the print is about to finish, I decided to stop the time-lapse thinking that it'll keep on printing.


I got impatient, and stopped the time-lapse because I saw that the printer kept spending precious seconds of my finite life moving the print head to the back of the plate to take a picture. It's now 10:53 pm. I'm tired. I'm grumpy. I'm annoyed with myself. I don't want to even look at it.

I'm disgusted.

Step 11: Conclusion

I hope that this instructable got you started with voxel modeling.
If you really want to print the cactus, you can get the files here:

Make sure that when you do 3d print your model, there isn't a storm causing mass destruction to society as we know it.
3D Printed Contest

Participated in the
3D Printed Contest