5 Basics of MagicaVoxel
What you need to know before you get started.
MagicaVoxel is a free, lightweight voxel art editor developed by Twitter user Ephtracy. It’s free to use and has recently released its 0.99.7.0 beta version, with animation options added and an updated user interface. It’s an impressive powerhouse in a folder of less than 8 MB once unzipped! And all you have to do is download it at the link below, unzip it, open the folder, and double-click the MagicaVoxel.exe file.
· How to Use MagicaVoxel
∘ 1. Tooltips
∘ 2. Different Views
∘ 3. Utilize Your Layers
∘ 4. Triangles
∘ 5. Color Management
∘ Bonus: Click All The Things!
How to Use MagicaVoxel
MagicaVoxel has improved over the years, and its most recent version (0.99.7.0 beta) has really streamlined a lot in regards to its user interface. A lot of information can be found online, like on the MagicaVoxel website, ArtChanny’s YouTube Channel, and the MagicaVoxel discord server. But if you’re like me and you don’t always like to watch a video guide on everything and instead read about it, I’ll try my best to explain to you five essential basics to know before getting started with MagicaVoxel.
There are a lot of buttons in MagicaVoxel. Some are very straightforward because we’ve been exposed to them through other applications. For example, the trash can button is obviously used for deleting items. If you can’t figure out what a particular button does, hover your mouse cursor over it and look at the bottom of the program window. A line of text will have appeared explaining to you what this button does, what shortcut keys are assigned to them, and even any optional uses for some of them.
2. Different Views
When working with your voxel models, there are two views you work in: Model View and World View.
Model View is where you do most of the creating. It has the main and sub tools on the left side and special edit tools on the right, like flip and rotates.
In World view, you can arrange and organize your project. Objects can be moved, rotated, flipped, aligned, and even moved to different layers.
3. Utilize Your Layers
If you go for big projects, it’s easy to get lost in all your objects. What if you need to edit a certain model, but you can’t find it anymore? Having things organized in layers beforehand can help you out big time.
Notice how, in the screenshot above, all the layers are colored and named. The colors are applied to the outlines of your objects. You can’t change the layer color, but if you right-click on a layer, you can name the layers.
To organize your objects into specific layers, click on the layer you want them to be in before creating a new object. If you’ve already created an object in the wrong layer (indicated with a right-facing triangle in front of the layer dot), select the object and click in front of the dot of the layer you want to move it to, and a triangle will appear in that spot. You’ve now moved your object to a different layer!
If you get lost in an ocean of objects now, you can turn off the visibility of any layer by clicking on their dots or right-click and select hide.
If you see a triangle, click on it! I promise you won’t regret it. Triangles are often used as an indicator that there’s something hidden behind that button. The triangle next to the word “Color” reveals color sliders so you can mix your own colors.
5. Color Management
When you first open the program, it will give you the basic color palette. If you click on the numbered buttons at the top right, it’ll show you different color palette presets. These are great to get you started (my favorite palette preset is number 1). But if you want to step things up a notch, click on three, and you get a palette with blank swatches to work with. A swatch is one of those squares in the palette.
Mixing your own color palette allows you to use the same color in different swatches. The benefit of this is the application of materials. When you hit Render at the top, you can see what your work looks like when converted to a still image. New settings will be displayed on either side of the screen. One of them is Material Settings, seen on the right of the screenshot below.
The standard setting is Diffuse. The voxels will look and normally react to the light settings of the scene. But if you apply any of the other materials to a color you picked in your palette, everything that has been colored with that swatch will gain those attributes.
In the example above, I have three grey swatches duplicated. That’s because I assigned them a metal material. Now anything colored in the original three swatches is unaffected yet still has the same color as the metal ones.
Bonus: Click All The Things!
MagicaVoxel is a very user-friendly program. It can be intimidating to see all these buttons and different views, but don’t let that stop you! Behind every button lies new options to explore. And by clicking those buttons and sliding those sliders, you easily build up a library of experience in MagicaVoxel, by Ephtracy.
Now go and create something unique!
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