The Basics

So, you're new to MagicaVoxel and don't know where to start? Well that's why I made this tutorial. :) When I started MagicaVoxel I had no idea what to do, but I found my way, through watching speedbuilds, and figuring it out for myself.

MagicaVoxel is a 3D modeling program, and it's really easy to learn and use! There are however, some fairly complicated features, but I should be able to help with that.

So enough beating about the bush, let's get started!

First of all, if you haven't already, download the MagicaVoxel program at (note: you need WinRar for this[1]) it's a free program, and really lightweight (it won't slow down your computer).

Now you want to create something, right? First of all though, you'll want to become familiar with the program's layout and shortcuts, don't jump straight into the deep end! So the first thing really, is to know how to place, remove, and select objects.

When you first open MagicaVoxel, you will be greeted with this image:
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When you first open MagicaVoxel, you will be greeted with this image


It is the default model, and you can delete it with no consequences, when you open MagicaVoxel, it is always there.

To delete it, click on the button on the left which has the four corners of a small square (the select tool, very important!).
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The select button

When you choose the select tool, you are by default put into box selection. This allows you to select from different points on the model. Try it out by holding and dragging the LMB. To instantly select a certain region, switch from box mode to rect mode (beneath the selection tool). Remember that the selection will go through the entire modelSo to quickly get rid of the default cube, select the entire region around it and press the delete button on your keyboard. If you have voxels selected it will delete only them. If you do not have voxels selected it deletes eveything. If that happens you can press ctrl+z to undo and ctrl+y to redo.

Once you have deleted the default cube, it's time to learn how to place your first voxels! We aren't building a massive skyscraper yet, or a big car, but we'll get there. ;)

If you look at the top right of your screen, you will see 3 numbers that by default say 40 40 40 . These are the dimensions of your scene, if you press the grid button in the lower left, an overlay will come up showing the different voxels in your scene: 
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The grid (including dimension and grid buttons outlined in red)

So now for what you've probably been wanting to do all along, actually placing an object! I'm sorry if this tutorial is a bit dry, but it's good to have everything done!

So to place a voxel in your now empty scene, press the attach button on the left side. It's above the select button, in a column with 2 other buttons, erase and paint, together they are arguably the 3 most common MagicaVoxel buttons.

When you press attach, you can now place voxels. By default you are in box attach mode, but you can change this up at the top right, above the attacherase, and paint buttons. You can choose different modes, B for Box, V for Voxel, F for Face, etc.. You can mess about with them for a bit and figure out what they do :)

Once you have done that, you now know how to attach blocks! However this same principle applies to the erase and paint tools too!

Another incredibly helpful feature is at the bottom of the screen, and to the left. It's a small arrow pointing upwards, and if you activate it, whenever you hover over a feature, it will give a small description of what it is! ( :0 ) This
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The hint button

is incredibly helpful and it really helped me ti figure out what everything did!

Painting voxels

For this part of the tutorial, we will just make a small cube to help demonstrate. Delete the starting cube, and make a small 10x10x10 cube with the tools from the last section. Once you have made the cube, we can start with the painting. First of all, you will want to choose a palette.
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The palettes

Palettes are your range of colours to paint with in MagicaVoxel. Palettes 0-2 are pre-made and are the default palettes. Palette 3 is gray and is available for making your own colours to use. The default palettes can be edited, but all palettes will reset to default when you close and exit the program.

If you save your palettes (by pressing the save button below the palette) it will save that palette, you can name it, and when you want to build a new scene with the same colour scheme, you can press load and bring up a new palette. However if you switch to a different palette it will reset to default when you go back to the previous palette. If you don't want to lose all your colours, make sure to save.

Now, you can colour your cube all sorts of crazy colours! You can use a default palette or a custom one. Here's a cube I painted using default palette 1:
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A coloured cube

While this may look random, the different colours serve a very useful purpose. If you use the face attachment tool, you would normally cover an entire side of the cube, however, if you use it on the cube now, it will only cover the area of the painted part you clicked on! Pretty cool, right? It's really useful if you want to quickly fill in a certain area, but don't want it going everywhere. Different colours also have different uses in the render.

The Render and Materials

The render is an incredibly important part of MagicaVoxel, namely, it makes your scene look nice and polished at the end. The render will put real lighting on your build, and you can also choose different materials for different colours, e.g diffuse (the default, opaque voxel), metal (a voxel with a reflective surface), glass (a transparent voxel, with different opacity values), and emission (a voxel which emits light of the colour that it is).

To enter the render, you will have to switch from model mode (where you build) to render mode (where you get the nice picture).
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The buttons to switch between build and edit mode

In the picture below I have outlined some important aspects of the render.
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The render!

On the right is the lighting bar. It changes the lighting of the scene. We will use the sun button as an example. If you select a colour from your palette, then click on the white box next to the sun button, the light the sun emits will become the colour you selected! The blue line next to the white box indicates how much light the sun emits, you can drag it to change the values. The same goes for the sky, the box indicates the colour, and the bar indicates the amount.

In the top middle there is a blue line, this will progress across the screen, and it indicates how close your render is to being finished. If you change the view of your render it will restart, or if you change anything else, but don't worry, unless you have alot of complicated stuff in your build (we'll cover that later though), it loads pretty fast!

On the left is the materials bar! This is one of the best parts about the render, it really gives life to your scene. To change the materials of your scene, we will use colours. Select one of the colours in your scene, then choose a material (in this case I will use metal), and then use the sliders to change the value of it.
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Different materials have different properties, metal is reflective!

You can experiment with this, and other materials however you like! Once you feel comfortable with it, you can move on to the next step.

At the top of the image are the numbers which say by default "Image 960 800" and "Sample 1024". These are the dimensions and samples of your image, respectively. There is a small grey rectangle next to them both, and if you drag it you can modify the value (or type it in).
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The dimension and sample bars

Left clicking anywhere on the screen will make the voxel you clicked on the focus of the camera, right clicking will remove this.

In the lower right corner there is a drop-down menu labeled camera, it has options to do with the view of the render.

The dof slider is to do with the focusing (left click), more value means more blur the further away from the selected target. Really helps to add depth.

The exp slider is the amount of exposure in your scene, more value makes more exposure. It helps if you're creating a fire or a lamp scene and don't want too much brightness.

The vig slider will create a vignette around the edge of your screen. If you are making a minimalistic model scene it can make it look so good! :)

So those are the basics of MagicaVoxel's renderer!

I really hope you're enjoying this tutorial, any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Measurer, January 2019

  1. There are free alternatives, and it doesn't apply if you're on MacOS - PatrikRoy
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