In this comprehensive guide, you will learn how to create 3D game pieces from scratch using Tinkercad– the free and easy-to-use 3D design and modeling tool.
We will be making a simple game involving a cube and a cone, but you can use these same techniques and tools to create far more complex game assets. By the end, you’ll know how to:
- Set up basic shapes like cubes and cones
- Adjust dimensions to perfectly fit pieces together
- Align, group, duplicate, and hide models
- Hollow out shapes to give them depth
- Export your models for 3D printing or other applications
So let’s get started with making our first 3D game piece in Tinkercad!
Step 1: Creating the Base Cube
We’ll start with a simple cube as the base piece for our game.
- Navigate to Tinkercad.com and sign up for a free account if you don’t already have one.
- Once logged in, click Create new design to start a blank project.
- In the Shapes menu on the right side, search for “cube” and drag a basic cube onto the blank workspace.
- With the cube selected, adjust the size dimensions in the right Inspector panel. Set the Width, Height and Depth all to 40mm so we have a nice even cube.
And that’s it! We now have a simple 40x40x40mm game piece. Let’s add a cone into the scene next.
Step 2: Adding a Cone Piece
In addition to basic shapes, Tinkercad has a library of more complex models you can insert. We’ll add a cone to sit inside the cube:
- In the Shapes menu, search for “cone” and select the model titled Cone (12 sides, castled base). Insert it onto the workspace.
- Adjust the cone’s Base Radius to 20mm so that it fits snugly inside the 40mm cube.
- Leave the Height at the default 14mm.
We now have two pieces that fit together nicely. Let’s align them properly inside the cube.
Step 3: Aligning the Models
Having shapes that align flush with each other makes for a more polished game design.
- Click to select both the cube and cone shapes (hold Shift while clicking to multi-select).
- In the Adjust menu, choose “Align” and then click the center square icon. This will center align both pieces along the workspace grid.
- Finally, adjust the cone’s position to sit flush centered inside the cube. Our two game pieces now fit perfectly!
Step 4: Grouping the Models
Now that our game pieces are modeled and aligned, let’s group them together:
- With both pieces still selected, click the Group button in the Inspector. This combines them into one grouped object.
Grouping pieces is important when designing elaborate game sets, so you can more easily move and transform multiple assets together as one.
For our model, there’s still one more crucial step…
Step 5: Hollow out the Cube
Having a solid cube isn’t the most interesting game piece. Let’s hollow it out to give more depth:
- Select the entire grouped model and click Edit in the Inspector. This will allow us to adjust the individual shapes again.
- Click the cube shape once to select it. Then right click and choose Duplicate.
- Change the cube copy’s Height to -4mm. This effectively works like a boolean to slice off and hollow out the shape.
- With both cubes selected, group them together. Then regroup with the cone as well to complete the model.
And there we have it! A hollowed cube game piece with a fun cone inside. Let’s explore a few more Tinkercad features to take it up a notch…
Bonus: Additional Tinkercad Features
Here are some other cool things you can try with your modeled game pieces:
Add an angled workplane, make another game shape on it, and then align it back into the main model. This lets you build things at interesting angles.
You can click the eye icon next to a shape to temporarily hide it. Useful for only showing certain game pieces at a time.
Export your model as an STL file for 3D printing your game pieces out in physical form.
Tinkercad lets you add simulated gravity, collisions, and other behavior to animate your game elements like pieces on a board.
The possibilities are endless!
And that concludes this step-by-step guide on making 3D game pieces in Tinkercad. Let me know if you have any other questions! I hope you found this tutorial helpful for designing your own 3D printed games.