Beginning 3D: Explainer 2 of 8

First steps in Tinkercad

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Navigate the Tinkercad interface, add 3D objects to the workplane and rotate & scale them


Name of explainer: Navigate the Tinkercad interface, add 3d objects to the workplane and rotate & scale them

Creative theme: Beginning 3D

Software used (for this explainer): Tinkercad

User level: BEGINNER

This is explainer 2 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 go on to create a coffee mug from scratch, complete with branding (explainer 3):

Later in this 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, 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?

Learning to navigate the Tinkercad interface is essential to get the most out of the program. Once you are able to navigate around a ‘virtual’ 3d space you can add objects to the workplane and start creating your own. The skills you learn here are transferable to most other 3d-based programs, including Unity and Unreal.

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.

You’ll find the keyboard shortcut F useful in Tinkercad. Short for ‘Focus‘, it puts the selected object front and centre so you can orbit around it as needed. This shortcut is also used in other software, including Unity (which we use in explainers seven and eight in this series).

Where to next?

We’re just getting started with Tinkercad! In the next explainer we’ll make our own ‘coffee mug’ object by combining simple ‘primitive’ shapes.

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