How to Render in MagicaVoxel

One of the most popular features of MagicaVoxel is the ability to render stunning high quality images of your voxel models. These are created using the powerful built in rendering engine in MagicaVoxel. In this tutorial we will show you how to render your voxel model using the MagicaVoxel renderer.

Getting Started

To create some of the stunning graphics you see on Mega Voxels, you will have to turn on a mode called Render mode. This adds custom lighting, shadows and even emission (light) effects to your voxel models. By default this mode is not enabled. Instead you will begin in what is called Model mode. We will go over the process of how to render in MagicaVoxel.

This tutorial uses MagicaVoxel 0.99.6 or newer. If you need help installing MagicaVoxel, view our previous tutorial How to Install MagicaVoxel. There you can find a step by step tutorial on getting MagicaVoxel running on your computer.

Open a Voxel Model in MagicaVoxel

For this tutorial we will use the "monu1" sample model that ships with MagicaVoxel. Of course, feel free to use your own model to follow along as the properties we go over apply to any voxel model in MagicaVoxel. To open the sample model click the "monu1" item in the Project Window on the left side of the editor.

Sample Voxel Model in MagicaVoxel

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How to Render a Voxel Model in MagicaVoxel

To render any voxel model in MagicaVoxel, first click the Render button at the top left of the Editor Window next to the Model button. After you click this, the main editor window of MagicaVoxel will change and some new windows will appear on the right and left side of the view port.

Render Mode in MagicaVoxel

There are 4 main changes you'll see when you switch from Model mode to Render mode. These are listed below:

  1. Light Window - The Light Window contains all the properties that affect the light and overall color of your scene. In here you will find various properties for the directional light, shadows, fog color, ground color and more.
  2. Render Progress Bar - This new progress bar is exclusive to Render mode. Since rendering lights, shadows, transparencies and other visual elements is resource intensive, the engine usually takes time to render a final image which is why there is a progress bar. The pause button allows you to manually disable it.
  3. Main Editor Window - This window is where you can see the rendered image as well as adjust the angle of the rendered image. Notice you cannot actually edit the model anymore like you could in Model mode.
  4. Matter Window - This window allows you to change the material that is used on the voxels. By default Diffuse is used but you can change it using this window to other material types such as Glass.
We will dive a little deeper into what you can do in each of these sections.

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Light Window

In Like we mentioned before the Light window is where you can change various settings that effect how your voxel art is rendered in the scene. 

Light Window in MagicaVoxel

These settings are broken down into 3 categories: Lighting, Sampling and Display. If you click the button that says All you can see all 3 categories combined inside of the window. As of MagicaVoxel version 0.99.6 there are 12 sub-categories under the Light window.
  1. Sun - This section affects the directional light of your scene. You can change the angle which affects which way shadows cast on your model as well as which sides are brighter. You can also change the area which changes how blurred shadows appear in your scene. And lastly you can change the intensity of the light which controls how bright the directional light is in your scene.
  2. Sky - This is the color of the sky rendered in the scene. The intensity property controls how much the light of the sky affects your scene.
  3. Fog - This adds fog to your scene using a color you specify. You can increase how thick the fog is using the Density property.
  4. Bounce - This effects how much the color of surrounding voxels affect the color of other voxels
  5. Sample
  6. Geometry
  7. Grid
  8. Edge
  9. Ground - This is the color of the floor.
  10. BG
  11. Scale
  12. Shape - This allows you to modify the shape of the voxel. You can change the way the default cube is displayed. For example you can select a lego brick or sphere instead of the traditional cube.
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Render Progress Bar

When you first entered Render mode, you may have noticed the blue progress bar filling automatically at the top of the editor. This progress bar indicates the progress that MagicaVoxel has made in rendering your scene. Because there are so many different calculations that the MagicaVoxel render engine has to process, it is not instantaneous and usually takes a few seconds to complete.

For some artists it might become distracting for the scene to reprocess every time a change is made to the scene. You can manually pause rendering by pressing the Pause button next to the progress bar at the top. To render it again simply press the play button and it will begin again.

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Main Editor Window

The main window is where you can see your entire scene. It works similar to Model mode however you cannot make any structural modifications to your model. You can only change the view angle. For convenience the cube in the bottom right allows you to snap the camera to fixed rotations.

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Matter Window

The Matter window is one of the most important windows inside of Render mode. This window allows you to modify the materials of the voxels on your models. As of MagicaVoxel 0.99.6 there are 6 different material types that you can choose for your voxels. The list includes:
  1. Diffuse - This is the default material used on all voxels. It simply displays a color of your choice.
  2. Metal - This material allows you to simulate a metallic look for your voxels.
  3. Emit - This material is extremely useful for making voxels light up similar to a light bulb.
  4. Glass - This material allows you to simulate the look of glass by making voxels transparent. It can also be used to simulate water.
  5. Blend - Mixes multiple materials together
  6. Cloud - One of the newest materials in MagicaVoxel, the cloud material helps to make voxels appear more like clouds.
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Where to go from Here

Now that you know how to render voxel models in MagicaVoxel, you can experiment with the various settings to create your own custom look. Let us know if you have any questions.


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