How to Make 3D Pixel Art in MagicaVoxel

If you had a chance to see some voxel art, you may have noticed its a lot like pixel art, just 3D. That is because pixel art and voxel art work off a grid the same way. A neat hidden feature that exists inside of MagicaVoxel is the ability to make pixel art just like you would in a traditional 2D graphics software. You can then apply great 3D effects to your pixel art to make it extra special. In this tutorial, we will show you how to create 3D pixel art using MagicaVoxel.

3D Pixel Art Tutorial

So a great feature of MagicaVoxel that is often overlooked is the ability to make pixel art. The question is, how do I create 3D pixel art in MagicaVoxel? The nice thing is MagicaVoxel supports creating a grid that allows you to make your own pixel art fast and easily! We'll be going through the steps to setup MagicaVoxel so you can create pixel art and then show you how to render it to make it look extra special.

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 New File in MagicaVoxel

For this example we will be using the standard cube that is made when you create a new file in the MagicaVoxel Editor. This is important because we will be transforming this cube into a canvas that you can use to draw your pixel art.

So to begin open up the MagicaVoxel Editor and you should automatically be presented with the cube we just mentioned.

Once you have MagicaVoxel open the next thing is to set up a canvas where you can draw your pixels. To do this we will modify the size of the grid.

Set up a Pixel Art Grid

Pixel art is traditionally drawn inside of a 2D grid. Voxel art, on the other hand, is made inside of a 3D grid. So how can we create a 2D grid? The answer is to modify the size of the grid so that it behaves like a 2D grid. To simulate this effect, we will set the Y value on the grid to 1. This will make our grid act like it was 2D. Enter these values into the Grid size field at the top right of the editor window.

After you enter those values press the Enter key on your keyboard. You should now see something like a flat square inside of the main editor window.

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Now that you have the canvas set up we need to adjust the camera so that it is easy to draw pixel art. There are 2 steps to accomplish this. You first need to change the Camera setting from Pers (Perspective) to Orth (Orthographic). Then tap the front of the Camera cube to cause the camera to look straight on. Use the image below as a guide.

Great! We are almost finished. Lastly we need to turn on a Grid so we can accurately place pixels on our grid. To do this click the Grid button on the bottom left of the editor window.

When you do this your canvas should now look like this.

How to Draw Pixels in MagicaVoxel

Now that we have a canvas it is time to start drawing some pixels. First let's select the Paint tool. Then select the Voxel Mode. After you have both activated it is time to pick a color. For this step lets choose a dark gray from the color palette. If you need guidance use the image below as a references.

We are now ready to draw our first pixel. Simply place your cursor over the grid and click to add a pixel.

Keep clicking on the grid to add more pixels. Try to replicate the image below.

Very good! Now that you have an outline for your pixel heart, lets fill the inside with a Red color. Go ahead and select a red color from the Color Palette on the left side of the editor.

Again simply click on the inside the outline to add red pixels for your pixel heart.

This is starting to look really good! Now that we have our pixel heart, we decided to add some extra details to spice up our pixel art. We selected a lighter red color for the top of the heart and a darker red color for the bottom of the heart. This was our final result.

Great work! However, you may have noticed the blue background. We can easily remove this by using the Magic Wand tool. Select the tool that has a wand icon.

Now click anywhere on the blue color. Basically this tool selects all the voxels that are this color inside of the grid. You should see a white outline around the selected voxels like the image below.

Once they are selected simply hit the Delete key on macOS or the Backspace key on Windows to delete the selected voxels. The final image should look like this:

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Render Your Pixel Art

We will now render our pixel art so we can make it look extra nice, but first let's adjust the angle of our pixel art so it looks even cooler. One of the biggest benefits of making pixel art in MagicaVoxel is giving it a little touch of 3D. Let's do this by adjusting the angle of the camera using the Camera cube in the Botton right corner.

Now let's activate Render mode so we can make our pixel art look extra nice. To do this click the Render button in the top right corner of the editor. 

Keep in mind that when you enter Render mode you will have to wait a few seconds for the image to render out. This is indicated by a blue loading bar at the top. When it is full you should have an image that looks like this:

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What's Next

Now that you know the basics on how to create pixel art in MagicaVoxel, you can experiment with different colors and different camera angles. Keep in mind that all the tricks that you can use when making pixel art in 2D can be applied here. Also any render effects that you see in our other MagicaVoxel tutorials like Light Emission can also be applied your pixel art here. Make sure to try them out and see what looks best.

Also, feel free to share with us your creation by tagging us in Instagram for a chance to get featured on Mega Voxels. Thanks for reading!


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