What it Is and How to Create It
In this video tutorial, we’ll learn about voxel art and the best free applications you can use to start making your own.
In this tutorial, we’re going to learn all about voxel art—how it works, the best free software you can use to make your own, and we even have some voxel freebies you can download!
Ready to dive in? Let’s go!
What Is a Voxel?
A voxel is essentially a 3D pixel. Another way to think about it is a pixel with volume, which is actually where the term “voxel” comes from. It’s a combination of the words “volume” and “pixel.” This also makes sense as to why voxel art often has an 8-bit/pixel art style to it. Because, in a lot of ways, it’s 3D pixel art.
Perfect Introduction to 3D
Creating voxel art can be the perfect introduction to 3D modeling and allow for experimentation with 3D materials. It can be as easy as building with Legos. Even though your models may be simplistic, you can still create some beautiful renders, focusing on things like lighting, materials, and composition. I’m often amazed at the moody scenes other artists are able to create.
The simplicity of what you can create with a minimal number of voxels, and still convey your idea, becomes an art in and of itself.
However, not all voxel art is simplistic. A lot can be incredibly ornate, with hours and hours poured into the smallest of details. Some artists even create voxel art so complex, at first glance, you might not even interpret it as voxel art.
Games and Apps
The voxel art style is also popular for creating games and apps, especially with indie and solo game developers. Games like Crossy Road and Shooty Skies are perfect examples. And, a lot of other games definitely have voxel art influences, like Monument Valley, Minecraft, and Pokémon Quest.
The Best Free Voxel Editors
Now, let’s take a look at the most popular voxel art editors so you can create your own voxel art. All of these are free and available for both Mac and PC.
MagicaVoxel is probably the most popular voxel program among artists because it has a powerful GPU-based renderer built into it. This allows you to create stunning renders with lighting and material effects. It’s free to use on any project and was created by ephtracy. We have a whole tutorial dedicated to getting started with MagicaVoxel, including free project files to download and experiment with.
Qubicle was actually used in the creation of games like Crossy Road and Shooty Skies. Qubicle is the top choice for many game developers because it features a wide variety of export options. This makes it easier to import the models into the game engine of your choice. Qubicle does have a free trial option, but the indie license is available for just $25.
Goxel is a free, open-source voxel editor. It’s unique because you can not only create with it on your desktop, you can also download it as an app on both iOS and Android, allowing you to create on-the-go. You even have the option to create right inside of your web browser with the live version on their website.
VoxEdit is currently in a free beta. It allows you to not only build your voxel art creations, but it also includes tools for rigging and animating your creations as well.
If you’re looking for some voxel inspiration, just search #VoxelArt on Instagram and check out the r/VOXEL subreddit. I also recommend checking out Mega Voxels, which is a helpful resource if you want to know more about the different voxel editors. And, if you want to check out a list of some of the top voxel artists, check out Voxel Made.
As I mentioned, we have a small voxel freebie pack you can download. It includes five different OBJ voxel models, as well as some isometric and 2D pixel art icons. It also includes the original MagicaVoxel project file for the models.
MagicaVoxel Beginner Tutorial
If you’re looking for a beginner tutorial, we have one on PremiumBeat that covers how to get started with MagicaVoxel. You can go from being a newbie to creating some beautiful renders in one tutorial.
Interested in the royalty-free tracks we used to make this video? Give them another listen:
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