How to use Marching Cubes in MagicaVoxel

Marching Cubes is a incredible shape option in MagicaVoxel that automatically adds angles between voxels instead of the default cube look. This allows you to create models that look smooth and more like low poly models used in commonly in video games. In this tutorial we will show you how to change the shape of your voxels from using the standard cube to Marching Cubes in MagicaVoxel.

Marching Cubes shape in MagicaVoxel

Most voxel art today is very blocky. However a popular 3D modeling style called low polygon art, or low poly art for short, is being used all the time in video games and 3D animation. You might have asked, how do I change the cube shape of a voxel in MagicaVoxel to the angled shape using Marching Cubes. By default the shape of your voxel in MagicaVoxel is a standard 3D cube. However, there is a great feature in MagicaVoxel located in the Shape window under Render mode that allows you to use a different shape option called Marching Cubes instead of a traditional cube. We will walk you through the steps on how to change the Shape inside Render mode.
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What is a Marching Cubes in MagicaVoxel

Marching Cubes is a type of shape in MagicaVoxel where the cubes have chamfered edges. A shape in MagicaVoxel is the visual aspect of a voxel on your model. For most voxel editors available today, the cube is the only way that a voxel is represented. However, for quite some time MagicaVoxel has given artists the abilities to change this shape into something other than a traditional cube. Like we mentioned before, Marching Cubes cuts the edges of all voxels in the model at angle. As of this writing the other available shapes include:
  • Cube - Standard 3D cubes (used by most voxel editors)
  • Lego - Cubes with a circle on top similar to a lego brick
  • MC - Cubes with chamfered edges
  • Clay - Cubes with smoothed edges
  • Sphr - Spheres instead of cubes
  • Cyli - Columns of cylinders instead of cubes
So if you have seen models in MagicaVoxel that look like like smooth models, it is because they are using shapes to transform the visual element of a voxel. This allows you to create some very creative looking voxel models with the touch of a button. We will be covering the Marching Cubes option commonly called MC.

Getting Started

To begin let's fire up the MagicaVoxel editor. For this tutorial we will be working with the "castle" sample file that comes with MagicaVoxel to demonstrate how to use Marching Cubes.


The purpose for choosing this file is because its free, but also we've noticed that models that stay similar to  this size display nicely using the Marching Cubes shape. However you can technically use any size model that is supported by MagicaVoxel. That means cars, castles, characters or any other kind of model you want. For this tutorial however we will stick with the castle.

Once you select the file, the main editor window should display a model of a castle similar to the one below:

Voxel castle in MagicaVoxel

One other thing we like to do is to turn on the Iso camera view which can be found at the bottom right of the main editor window. This gives the model a nice isometric perspective. Next we will change the shape, but first we have to switch from Model mode to Render mode.
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How to Turn on Render Mode

To turn on Render mode in MagicaVoxel click the button labeled Render at the top right of the main editor window. 


After you click this button, some of the windows in MagicaVoxel are going to change including the main editor window because you are switching from Model mode to Render mode. Bear in mind it is normal for the window to appear blurry at first because the render engine in MagicaVoxel is rendering the final image with lights, shadows and other effects. This process takes a few moments to complete. 

Change the Shape of the Voxel

To change the voxel shape, go to the window named All and scroll down until you find the sub-category called Shape. When there, you can choose from 6 shape types: Cube, Lego, MC, Clay, Sphr, and Cyli. Click any one of the six buttons to change to that shape.


For this tutorial we are using the MC shape. This will change your voxels so that they now appear with chamfered edges. Go ahead and click the button titled MC.

Marching Cube shape in MagicaVoxel

Since changing the shape is modifying a property under Render mode, the scene will have to render itself  again. After a few seconds though you should see your model with the shape you selected. Here is a final render of the castle using the MC (Marching Cubes) shape we chose.

Voxel model rendered using the Lego shape

And that's how you apply the Marching Cubes shape in MagicaVoxel. The best part is that you can literally switch back to cubes by simply clicking Cube in the Shape window. There are lots of possibilities for adding some zest to your voxel models.
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Saving a Photo of your Model using the New Shape

When you switch back to Model mode, the shape that you selected will temporarily disappear because the Marching Cubes shape is considered a Render property. Also if you try exporting your voxel model it will come out as standard cube voxels. At the moment MagicaVoxel only supports cube and marching cube voxels as an export option. All other shapes are considered Render effects and will only display inside of Render mode. 

The nice thing is that MagicaVoxel has a great screenshot feature that allows you to save your voxel model as an image. So if you would like to save an image of your model using the shape you selected, you can take a picture of it very easily.  To take a picture simply click the button with a camera icon at the bottom left of your screen.

Snapshot button

Export Marching Cubes

To export your voxel model with Marching Cubes applied you will have to select the MC export option inside of the Export window located at the bottom right of the editor. Click that button with the mc to export it.

MC Export Option

Wrap Up

The Marching Cube feature in MagicaVoxel has created some cool opportunities for voxel artists to take their voxel models to the next level by allowing them to create low poly styled models out of their voxel art. If you have a question about the tutorial please ask below in the comment section.

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