Beginning 3D: Explainer 3 of 8

Create a coffee mug in Tinkercad

All our workflow explainers are waffle-free and work-tested. That’s the guarantee!

Create a coffee mug in Tinkercad


Name of explainer: Create a coffee mug in Tinkercad

Creative theme: Beginning 3D

Software used (for this explainer): Tinkercad

User level: BEGINNER

This is explainer 3 of 8 in this series

This series includes:

  1. Get tooled up for this explainer series
  2. Navigate the Tinkercad interface, add 3d objects to the workplane and rotate & scale them
  3. Create a coffee mug in Tinkercad
  4. Export a coffee mug from Tinkercad in OBJ format
  5. Navigate the Kenney Shape interface and edit built-in objects
  6. ‘Trace’ a Space Invader image in Kenney Shape to create a 3d object and export it in OBJ format
  7. Create a new Unity project and import the objects created in Tinkercad and Kenney Shape
  8. Import a free Unity coffee shop asset and place our 3D objects in the scene

The Software

This series of explainers uses three separate programs:

Tinkercad for introducing basic 3d navigation, scaling and rotating shapes, combining them and exporting 3d objects. Tinkercad is completely free and runs in a web browser. Get yourself a free account now!

Kenney Shape, for ‘tracing’ a 2d image to turn it into a 3d object and export it. At time of writing Kenney Shape costs less than £5 / $5. We’ll be creating and exporting a 3d Space Invader in explainers five and six:

Unity for importing 3d objects, assembling them into a scene and applying simple textures and lighting. Unity is FREE for personal use. We’ll start assembling our Retro Cafe in explainers seven and eight:

3D Objects created in this series

Using a general theme of ‘Objects for a Retro Cafe’, in this third explainer in the series we’ll create a coffee mug in Tinkercad:

Later in the series we’ll ‘trace’ a 2d image of a Space Invader in Kenney Shape to turn it into a 3d object, which could be used as wall-art or even a cookie template in our retro cafe!

…We’ll also have fun with Kenney Shape’s built-in retro objects:

Finally, we’ll bring our saved objects into Unity and start blocking out a 3d cafe scene!

The pre-requisities

This is a BEGINNER explainer series, starting with beginner-friendly software. You need to have a basic knowledge of using Windows and downloading and installing software to follow this series. Tinkercad and Kenney Shape are beginner-friendly programs. Unity is a complex application and is not recommended for new computing users. For introductory courses and videos for Unity, check out Unity Learn

Why would I do this?

Creating a coffee mug is a perfect first ‘proper’ project in Tinkercad. It requires the combining of two ‘primitive’ shapes – A cylinder and a torus. To ‘hollow out’ the centre of the mug we use a ‘hole’ shape. Once you’re able to combine two shapes into a new one, you can do the same for an object that requires 100 or 1000 of them 🙂

Let’s do it!

Click the play icon to watch this explainer video. Subtitles are available – Click the settings cog at the bottom right for options. You can watch this video full-screen by clicking the full-screen icon at the bottom right.

Good to know

Tinkercad saves your work as you go so there’s no ‘Save’ process.

As seen in the explainer, another useful Tinkercadkeyboard shortcut is D for ‘drop‘. This drops the selected object down to the workplane. This is helpful if you accidentally place an object in mid-air!

When we combined our shapes at the end of this explainer, they all adopted a single colour. This is correct as we’re combining two ‘meshes’ into one.

If you get to a significant point in your creative build and want to duplicate your scene before continuing (in case things go wrong or you need to revert to a previous version), from the dashboard page, tap the cog icon at the top right of your design then select ‘Duplicate’:

The model is duplicated and opened as a ‘Copy of’ file for you to work with, as below. Change the name and continue!

This method is also useful for saving models at various stages of development to show to students or clients.

Where to next?

When you graduate to complex software, you’ll discover there’s no such thing as ‘hole’ shapes. Instead, you’ll be working with terms including ‘boolean operators’. These sound scary but do exactly the same thing 🙂

In the next explainer we’ll export our model from Tinkercad so it can be used in other programs. Remember, this is part of a series of explainers – Join us again for the other explainers in the series 🙂

Notes and updates

There are no notes or advisories at this time. This video explainer was last updated in September 2022. This page was last updated in September 2022.

We at are not responsible for the content of any external webpages or software downloaded from third party sites. Any links are included in good faith at the time of writing. All explainer content is compiled in good faith using processes and methods used by the team. Modern software provides users with many ways to accomplish a task, and for reasons of clarity we choose not to refer to multiple options. All computer users must run up to date virus / security software at all times to minimise risks of data loss.

This is number 3 of 8 explainer videos in this series. Make sure you join us for the others!