So you want to make 3D models for Minecraft

MrbrutalMinecraft8 Comments

How do you go about it, what do you need to know, and is it easy? Read on and find out!

The making of models is pretty straight forward, all you need is some 3d modeling experience, good spatial perception, and the source material or photos of what you’re actually trying to model. Then some texturing skills or pixel art come in handy and you are set. The coding part is a bit more challenging. Unless you’re familiar with coding, MCP, Java and so on, you’ll need another team player, who can cover that part.
So let’s get right into it:
First things first, you need some sort of an app or a program to do this in right? Well, there’s a lot of them out there, and they usually all work, but I’m going to list 3 that I think work the best or that I’ve used in the past.
The main thing you have to watch out is that the program can export either ready code in java or .obj files. (More on files and conversion later)
So here are some programs that I like or have used:

Some more:

  • 3DS max from Autodesk
  • SketchUp from Google (Free)
  • 123D from Autodesk (Free)
  • Blender (Free)

Now there’s a difference when choosing a modeling software. Techne and FMC use only boxes, but other software uses all the shapes, or in technical terms n-gons. N-gons being shapes defined by n number of corners or points. Now the key here is to make shapes with only 4 total corners or points, or it won’t work since Minecraft wasn’t coded to support that. Or you know, you could always code in another object renderer. But that’s super advanced stuff. 🙂
You can read the first in-depth look at the software here -> click.
In the next post, we’ll go over how to model, render and properly export your models, and what to watch out for when doing this.
Sounds pretty straight forward, but sometimes isn’t. There are shapes, there’s scale, there’s optimization with images, file sizes and so on. We’ll talk more about this in a separate blog post, dedicated to modeling. Now if you want to learn how to 3D model (and not just for Minecraft) I suggest having a look at the SketchUp from Google. It’s really easy to learn, and at the same time, it offers some complexity. I’m sure you’ll be able to find some good tutorials on google or youtube.
If you’re like me, and already have some experience in modeling and 3D world I can suggest a site for Cinema 4d tutorials where I’ve learned most of what I know. It’s available here>>.
But basically, what you have to watch out the most, is that you make the models that will fit with Minecraft’s blocky style and that the textures are the same size when you put them in the game.
There are some things you have to know here. Now if you’re exporting from Techne or FMC, it’s pretty straight forward. The apps will output almost game ready Java code, all you have to do is copy it. Here is a sample of said code that the FMC modeler can export. Click here>>.
With other software like Cinema, it’s a bit more complicated. You have to have the right scale when exporting, and the file has to be run through a python script afterward. But don’t worry, I’ll provide said script when we get to that part.
All the tiny pixels. Now that you’ve modeled the thing you want to bring in the game, it’s time for my favorite part. Texturing. Either the unwrap was provided to you (Techne, FMC) or you’ve unwrapped the model yourself (Cinema 4d) it’s now time to open it in your program of choice and start pixeling in those details.
Now by popularity here are the most used programs for this:

Now which one you choose is totally up to you, since all you really need is to be able to export the texture into the .png format. It is also good that you can open .tiff files.
So you’ve got everything ready, you have a model, textures, and now you want to make the damn thing appear in-game. There’s a lot of ways to do this, we’ll first have a look how it was done in 1.6.4. and then we’ll skip ahead to newer versions of the game. The principle stays the same, there’re only some code changes that have to be taken into account.
I will go into more detail on all these subject in the upcoming posts so stay tuned.
I had a chance to work on some more 3d models, and I’ve made a Rocket train from scratch, which I then included in one of the old versions so that it can be displayed with the real train. And since I get asked how I do my models a lot, I decided to try and write up a few posts, that could help anyone trying to make something for Minecraft. The stuff written here is how I do things, and it may be different from how other people do it. If you want to help, know more, or you want to tell me I’m doing something wrong, write it in the comments.
PS: Traincraft development is no longer in my hands, so if you want to know how it’s going, follow the GitHub repos. But as I hear, it’s getting updated to 1.7 and 1.9.
Have a fun week,

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5 years ago

So you’ve given up TrainCraft? Then why not make the 1.7 and 1.9 prots by eternalblueflame and canitzp OFFICIAL?

5 years ago

Very cool! Also glad to see work continue on the 1.7 and 1.9 ports, can’t wait to play them.

Elijah Gooden
Elijah Gooden
5 years ago

Hey Brutal, Can you show me your ways of making trains and what not for traincraft??? Im bored and tired of making train models for gmod. Go ahead and shoot me an email when you can.

5 years ago

you havent givin up traincraft have you?
i love this i’m a fan of trains!! gmod,train sim,and your mod
hope it ever coems on 1.7.10

5 years ago

ahem *come ahem

5 years ago

These models are TrainCraft? If so, I am very anxious, because since I met your mod was in love! And you intend to bring soon to 1.9.4 and / or 1.10.2?