Beginning 3D: Explainer 1 of 8

Get tooled up for Beginning 3D!

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Get tooled up for this explainer series!


Name of explainer: Get tooled up for this explainer series

Creative theme: Beginning 3D

Software used (for this explainer): N/A

User level: BEGINNER

This is explainer 1 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 and be ready for explainer two!

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’, once we’ve got to grips with Tinkercad we’ll use it to create a coffee mug from scratch, complete with branding:

We’ll also make a ‘hole’ in the mug to create a ‘realistic’ design that could be 3d printed or used in 3d games:

We’ll ‘trace’ a 2d image of a Space Invader in Kenney Shape to turn it into a 3d object…

…while having fun with ‘Grandpa’ Invader and 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, downloading and installing software to follow along with this series. Tinkercad and Kenney Shape are beginner-friendly programs. Unity is a complex application and is not recommended for new computer users. For introductory courses and videos for Unity, check out Unity Learn

Why would I do this?

We need the right tools for the job! We’ve selected Tinkercad as it’s completely free and offers progression routes into more sophisticated software including Fusion360 and Maya as your skills grow and you choose to specialise.

Kenney Shape takes an unusual approach to 3D modelling, by mirroring the building processes of ‘block’ systems including Lego and Minecraft. It’s fun to get started with, particularly if you like working with stylised / low-poly 3D objects.

Unity is a powerful realtime 3d engine used to create professional renders, animation and 3d games. Along with Unreal, it has a huge online community of users ready to help!

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

As mentioned in the explainer, it’s best to use a keyboard and mouse as you start your journey with 3D. If you’re using a laptop, it’s tempting to use the trackpad, but you’ll find this limits you as you graduate to professional software. For this reason, we recommend purchasing a separate mouse…

Any modern mouse will work – It just needs standard left and right buttons and a central ‘wheel’, as below. There’s no need to spend more than 10 GBP / 10 USD unless you want to – Just check reviews before purchase. The explainers in this series assume you’re using a keyboard and mouse, so it’s worth the small investment 🙂

Where to next?

We’re just getting started! In the next explainer we’ll open Tinkercad and start learning the interface.

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 April 2023. This page was last updated in April 2023.

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 1 of 8 explainer videos in this series. Make sure you join us for the others!