Introduction: Minecraft Snow Golem Ornament

About: I am a scientist, professional science writer, and science educator. I'm also author of the Biology Bytes books:

For the 3D Printed Ornament Design Challenge, I made a Minecraft snow golem ornament. Snow golems are basically Minecraft's equivalent of a snowman, except snow golems are way more fun because they are "alive" (virtually-speaking) -- they wander around, leaving snow patches wherever they go (so you can make more snow golems!), and throw snow balls at monsters. But, like real snowmen, the snow golems unfortunately melt in the rain. So, if you'd like a Minecraft snow golem ornament (that doesn't melt in the rain!), this is the 'ible for you -- just 3D print the .stl file from this step.

In the following steps I've briefly showed how I made this ornament using Tinkercad because I thought it might be helpful for other beginners. I'd never used a 3D printer modeling program before (this was the first model I've made using Tinkercad), so you'll get to see how I figured things out. Before making the snow golem, I did go through several tutorials Tinkercad provides, which I recommend doing to learn how to use the program's basic tools.

UPDATE: I ended up ordering the snow golem to be 3D printed and painted it myself. See the last step for details.

Step 1: Modeling the Body

Modeling the body boxes

I started by stacking three boxes that have the same proportions as the cubes that make up the snow golem’s body and head. To make the entire ornament no taller than 3 inches (per the contest requirements), I specifically made the bottom box 24 mm on each side, the middle box 20 mm on each side, and the head 22 mm on each side (making it a total of 66 mm tall [3 inches in 76 mm] to leave room for the ornament’s hook’s hole on top). Making boxes like this is pretty straightforward after going through a few Tinkercad tutorials.

Tilting the head

I then tilted the head a little because I thought this would make the snow golem look more engaged. I set the workplane to the bottom of the head and then rotated the head on this workplane by 22.5 degrees.

Adding buttons

I then made “coal buttons” for the front of the body. I made these be boxes 4 mm on each side, based on scaling the pixel sizes from a Minecraft snow golem (i.e., for the torso, 1 pixel = 2 mm, and the coal buttons are 2 pixels on each side). I made the buttons stick out a little on the snow golem (by 1 mm) so it’d have more of a 3D texture.

Step 2: Modeling the Face

Making the face was the most challenging part. Basically, the mouth was first made up of hole boxes (each 3 mm deep) where most of the boxes were the size of 1 pixel. Some of the larger parts of the mouth I made using larger hole boxes (still always 3 mm deep), but using many 1-pixel-wide/tall holes helped me keep track of spacing between the holes. After I was satisfied with the spacing, I did go back and stretch many of the small hole boxes to be larger (getting rid of individual, 1-pixel-wide/tall holes). Based on my scale, each pixel on the face was 1.35 mm wide/tall. (Again, set the workplane to be the front of the face to add the face.)

Step 3: Modeling the Arms

Lastly, I threw some arms on the snow golem. These were made using boxes adjusted to the right size. I then set a workplane to the side of the torso (where the arm would be attached) and tilted the arms by 50 degrees.

Step 4: Finishing Touches

For the ornament’s hook’s hole, I added a paraboloid at the top of the snow golem and made it light brown so it’d look like the pumpkin’s stem. I used a hole cylinder to make a hole through the middle of the “stem” for the hook to go through.

I don’t have a 3D printer so I couldn’t show the 3D printed version, but once it’s printed it’d need to have excess supportive plastic carefully removed (there will be a bit between the arms and body) and then it’ll need to be carefully painted. Dark orange striping could be added to the face so it more closely resembles a Minecraft snow golem.

Once it’s all done, enjoy your Minecraft snow golem ornament! May it help keep monsters away from your tree!

Step 5: UPDATE: the Final Product - Printed & Painted!

I don't own a 3D printer but decided to have my snow golem printed, paint it myself, and give it as a Christmas gift to a family member who loves Minecraft as much as I do. I had it printed through Shapeways using white strong & flexible plastic (cost $20).

Once the snow golem arrived from Shapeways, I went to a local store that sold miniatures paints and purchased two brushes (a "fine detail" brush and a thick/broad "wash brush") and the following miniatures paints (if you plan on painting many miniatures, it's much more cost-effective to buy some primary colors and mix them yourself to get the color you want! These paints aren't cheap!):

  • A white primer
  • A black shade
  • An orange layer paint ("troll slayer orange" by Citadel)
  • A black base paint
  • A brown layer paint ("balor brown" by Citadel)

I then read this great guide on How to Paint Miniatures and tried to follow its directions (I've never painted miniatures before, so this was an exciting/daunting process). I didn't take step-by-step pictures unfortunately, but here is basically what I did (while looking at pictures online for how to paint the detailed areas, such as the head and arms):

  1. Paint the entire figurine with the white primer. (Primer helps the other paints stick.) Use a thin layer so you don't lose detail.
  2. Then I lightly painted the white parts of the snow golem with the black shade to add some texture (it's barely noticeable but I think worked well).
  3. I then painted the buttons and mouth black with the black base paint. I used a damp paper towel to remove any mistakes.
  4. Next I painted the arms brown (and the "stem" brown) and the head orange.
  5. Lastly, I mixed some of the orange paint with a little bit of black paint to make a dark orange paint. I used this to paint the stripes on the head and the arms. I also added the black spots around the stem at this point.

And that's it! Enjoy your painted 3D snow golem!

3D Printed Ornament Design Challenge

Participated in the
3D Printed Ornament Design Challenge

Formlabs Contest

Participated in the
Formlabs Contest