5 Basics of MagicaVoxel

What you need to know before you get started.

Header image with my own MagicaVoxel creation: a diorama of the Green hill Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog.
My MagicaVoxel creation: a diorama of the Green Hill Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog.
· 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.

1. Tooltips

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.

Screenshot of the bottom of MagicaVoxel, showing the tooltip and the assigned shortcut key.
Location of the Tooltip, showing the tool button does and the assigned shortcut key.

2. Different Views

When working with your voxel models, there are two views you work in: Model View and World View.

Comparison between Model View on the left and World View on the right. Model View has mostly tool and edit buttons. World View has organization and arrangement buttons.
Model and World view comparison.

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.

Screenshot of MagicaVoxel showing named layers on the left.
Organization of layers with colors and layer names.

4. Triangles

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.

Clicking on the triangle next to color reveals color sliders and color codes!

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.

Screenshots displaying the different color palettes. Custom color palette (top left), Standard Palette (top right), PAL Palette (bottom left), and Greyscale Palette (bottom right).
Custom color palette (top left), Standard Palette (top right), PAL Palette (bottom left), and Greyscale Palette (bottom right).
Screenshot of the rendering screen of MagicaVoxel.
Rendering screen of MagicaVoxel.

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.

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Frederik Verhagen

Stay-at-home father and dork who writes about creativity, science fiction, and little discoveries in life. 🔗 bumblebearcreations.carrd.co