Introduction to Magica Voxel, a free 3D voxel modelling tool

In this article, I will show you how to download Magica Voxel, how to use it and how to export the 3D model created with it.

This time I use it on macOS but it can be used on Windows in the same way. But, please be aware that the UI etc. may be different.

About Magica Voxel

Magica Voxel is open-source software, which allows you to create models with voxels.

The official site is here. You can download the software from this site.

Magica Voxel – Top page

How to download Magica Voxel

Access the official site, then you will easily find the download button.
There is the version for each OS (It supports Mac and Windows only), so download the one compatible with your system. The download will finish in tens of seconds.

Download ‘Magica Voxel’

 

About the error when launching

When launching Magica Voxel on macOS, you may see it doesn’t start up, showing the black screen.

 

‘Magica Voxel’ icon

In that case, follow the sequence below to launch.

  1. Uncompress the compressed file you downloaded.
  2. Move temporarily the ‘Magica Voxel’ icon (See the image above) from the uncompressed file to the desktop or other folder.
  3. Move the ‘Magica Voxel’ icon, which you just moved to the desktop, back to the uncompressed file.

How to solve the error when launching Magica Voxel

That is all.
Once you solved it this way, the software will launch without problems next time. So please try this solution if you struggle with this error.

Navigation Tools and User Interface in Magica Voxel 

Now, I explain how to use the navigation tools and user interface in Magica Voxel.
Of course, you can use the navigation tools with the mouse. But, this time, I use them with the trackpad. It’s handy.

Navigation tools 

  • Scale > Slide two fingers

Navigation – Scale-up

 

Navigation – Scale-down

 

  • Rotate camera (Scene Tumbling) >  Click with two fingers and slide them. If you do the same with one finger, it selects an area or creates a voxel etc.
  • Undo (Ctrl+Z)
  • Cancel the selection (Ctrl+D)
  • Delete (‘Delete’ key) > you can delete the voxel selected.

By the way, I found ‘Copy and Paste’ was not working.

User Interface in Magica Voxel

I explain the basics of the user interface in Magica Voxel here.

The UI in Magica Voxel

1. Colour Palette

You can change the colour of each voxel here. The numbers, 1 to 4, are written below the caption ‘Palette’. These are the colour palettes of each colour tone. By default, some colour palettes are available such as greyscale, low-tone colours, etc.

2. Brush Palette

This palette allows you to change the ‘Edit’ mode when you paint or create voxels. 

The Edit mode

The Brush tool has some Edit modes as follows.

L>Line
When you create a line, press the ‘Attach’ button first. Then, you can draw a line with voxels. There are ‘Project’ and ‘Straight’ modes.

C>Center
When you create a face, press the ‘Attach’ button first. You can create ‘Circle’ or ‘Square’ faces. They are created from the centre point.

C>Center

P>Pattern
You can add a registered pattern. When creating it can be rotated around X, Y and Z-axis.

V>Voxel
This allows you to create a sphere or voxel. You can create or add them in ‘Attach’ mode, and you can paint them in ‘Paint’ mode. In ‘Erase’ mode, you can erase voxels with the pattern you set.

F>Face
This allows you to create a face with voxels. You can create or add it in ‘Attach’ mode, and paint a face in ‘Paint’ mode. In ‘Erase’ mode, you can delete the face selected.

B>Box
You can add, paint and delete voxels with a box specified by dragging the mouse. ‘Attach’ mode adds voxels, and ‘Paint’ mode paints them with the colour selected from the colour palette. In ‘Erase’ mode, you can delete voxels with the box specified.

3. Scene

You make your voxel model here. You can switch the screen to display the rendered image by selecting the ‘Render’ tab that is highlighted in the red box below.

‘Rendering’ screen

4. Edit tool

In the panel highlighted in the red box below, you can set scale, flip and rotate voxels.

By the way, in Magica Voxel, you can only create voxels in the wireframe box that contains the model. If you want to modify it, change the values highlighted in the light blue box below.

Edit tool

 

5. Project and Outline

In the panel highlight in the red box, you can find voxel models available by default and the ‘Outline’ tab where you can manage the hierarchy of the model.

Project / Pattern / Outline

 

Next, let’s create a voxel model.

Modelling with Magica Voxel

First off, launch Magica Voxel and display a new Scene.

After getting used to the user interface, press the ‘Document’ icon (New Project) in the top right corner of the screen to create a new voxel model.

‘Create New’

Firstly, select ‘Line Mode’, ‘Attach’ and ‘Box Select’. Set ‘Line Mode Option’ to ‘Straight’ and then select one-fifth of the total height from the bottom.

‘Box Select’

 

Next, select a green colour from the colour palette and press the ‘Replace Vox Color’ icon.
By clicking the voxels selected earlier, you can paint them at once.

Colour voxels #1

Similarly, paint the rest (i.e. remaining 80% of the height) red.

Colour voxels #2

 

Next, let’s shape the model.
Select voxels with ‘Box Select’ and press ‘Delete’ key. As shown in the image below, delete each end by 1/3 width.

Delete by using ‘Box Select’

 

Now, let’s make the details.
Select ‘Voxel Mode’ and ‘Erase’. Then set ‘Mirror’ to ‘Y’ and ‘Axis’ to ‘X’. As shown in the following screenshot, draw lines to form a triangle.

Erase with ‘Mirror’ function

 

After drawing a triangle with ‘Mirror’ function, we are going to cut off unnecessary voxels. 
Select ‘Face Mode’ and ‘Erase’. Then set ‘Mirror’ to ‘Y’ and ‘Axis’ to ‘X’. You can delete the remaining part at once by selecting it and press the Delete button.

Erase with ‘Face’ mode

 

At the final stage of modelling, we paint the model.
Select ‘Voxel Mode’ and ‘Paint’. Then, select colour from a colour palette.

Paint the model

 

Rendering

To finish up the modelling, I briefly explain how to apply ‘Rendering’.

Rendering

1. Render button

Press this button to switch to the ‘Rendering’ screen.

 

2. Light Editor

You can set up ‘Area Light’, ‘Sky Light’, ‘Fog’ and etc.

 

3. Matter Editor

This allows you to change the material (Diffuse、Metal、Glass etc.), set up the camera and insert an image. You can also modify the image size when exporting the model.

 

4. ‘Render’ button

This starts exporting the rendered image.

 

The rendered image

If you change parameters too often, it would drain the battery quickly. So, render the model step by step while monitoring the condition.

 

Export

When the model is completed, export it in a 3D-file format.

In the ‘Export’ menu in the right bottom corner of the screen, select a file format to export. This time we export the model in .obj format.
Specify where to save it and press ‘Save’ to export the model.

Export the model

 

Import your model into STYLY

After preparing your 3D model, check the final state by importing it into STYLY.
Login to STYLY and create a VR space. Please refer to the following article to create your STYLY account.

STYLY – top page

Open the Import screen as shown below (Press ① and then ②).

STYLY – ‘3D model import’ screen

After uploading the model, click the added model from ‘My Model’.

I found that the model imported to STYLY had its pivot point shifted and had no textures attached. You could adjust the pivot centre and textures in Unity if you want to. It doesn’t make any sense without textures anyway.

The model imported

That’s all. We now completed the workflow, from ‘creating a model’ to ‘importing it to STYLY’.

How did you find this tutorial? It’s fairly easy to create a voxel model with Magica Voxels. Although it’s free software, its renderer performs very well, generating a beautiful high-quality image. So, please create your original world through trial and error.