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Introduction to 3D Modeling & Design

A guide to using Tinkercad.

Workplane Options

Project Title - Randomly generated project title. This can be changed by clicking on the name and typing a new one.

Editing Tools - Allow you to do basic edits to your project, like duplicating, deleting, and undo/redo.

View Controls - Options to manipulate the workplane into different points of view.

Workplane - 3D space on which your project will sit. Able to be rotated and panned across.

Grid Controls - Allow you to turn on/off snapping, and switch your unit of measurement.

Model Editing Tools - Used for editing models directly. Group/ungroup, align, and mirror.

Import/Export - Allows importing of files and exporting/saving to several formats.

Shape Tools - These shapes are used to create objects. The dropdown menu lets you choose from many different types of shapes.

Workplane and Menu Overview

Screenshot of Tinkercad workplane

Editing Tools

This menu allows you to edit your shapes and manage your actions. Tinkercad will automatically save your file.

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  1. Copy (Ctrl + C) - Highlight a shape, or shapes, and use this button, or press Ctrl + C to copy that shape.
  2. Paste (Ctrl + V) - After copying use this button or press Ctrl + V to paste a new copy of your shapes.
  3. Duplicate and Repeat (Ctrl + D) - After copying use this button or press Ctrl + D to duplicate it.
    1. Copy shapes, duplicate them, move them, and use Ctrl +D again. This will exactly duplicate the moved shapes.
  4. Delete - Use this tool to delete selected shapes. The Delete or Backspace keys will also work.
  5. Undo & Redo (Ctrl Z & Ctrl Y) - Use these buttons or Ctrl Z/Y to undo and redo your last steps.

Model Editing Tools

This menu allows you to group and align shapes.

Meshmixer model editing tools

  1. Group (Ctrl + G) - After highlighting two or more shapes, use this tool to group them together.
  2. Ungroup (Ctrl + Shift + G) - Click on any grouped shapes and use this tool to ungroup them.
  3. Align (L) - Highlight any two or more shapes and this tool will help with aligning them together in various ways.
  4. Mirror (M) - Highlight one or more shapes and use this tool to mirror and flip the current orientation.

View Controls

Be aware when designing on the workplane that it is a 3D space, and so you must keep all dimensions in mind when manipulating objects and models. There are several options for rotating the workplane to see different sides of your models:

  • Right click and hold anywhere on the workplane surface and drag in the direction you wish to rotate
  • Use the direction cube in the top left corner. Clicking on a face, edge, corner, or one of the arrows will snap to that direction. You can also click and drag the box to freely move the view.
  • The home icon will snap the workplane back to home rotation
  • The plus and minus icons zoom in and out (the mouse scroll wheel can also be used)
  • The bottom icon changes the view to orthographic, which is a top-down two-dimensional view of the workplane. Click again to return to perspective view.

Watch the video below to see how the View Controls work and how to rotate the workplane in Tinkercad.

Download the transcript of this video: Rotating the Workplane in Tinkercad

Shape Tools

Screenshot of the shape tools menu in TinkercadIn this box you will find all the shapes you can use in Tinkercad. Click and drag a shape onto the workplane from this menu to begin using them. The menu by default shows the Base Shapes menu that includes simple geometric shapes.

Any shape can be starred by hovering over it and clicking the star next to its icon. This will add it to the Favorite Shapes menu.

Using the dropdown will allow you to switch to other selections of shapes. The two most commonly used are Basic Shapes, and Text and Numbers, however a few others can be very useful when designing.

The Shape Generators menu allows you to play with complex shapes that can be easily edited with sliders, such as pipes and threads.

Learn more about using Shapes on the next tab of this guide.

Grid Controls

There are two options for editing the grid and workplane.

Snap Grid - This turns on and off shape snapping. If this is turned off shapes will move by 1 degree (freely). If you turn on snapping you can choose the amount of distance you would like shapes to snap to. Between 0.1mm and 5.0mm.

Note: The units will change to inches if the grid properties are changed from millimeters to inches.

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In this tool you can set your units, either millimeters, inches, or bricks. Default is millimeter. Choose Units, and use the dropdown to change.

The Presets menu allows you to change the size of the workplane. Default is 200x200 mm. The dropdown offers several preset workplane sizes that represent well known 3D printer beds. This can be useful if you want to be sure your object will fit on your 3D printer. You can also manually change the width and length using the boxes.