Exporting from Tinkercad into Minecraft.
When thinking about how to improve the experience for Tinkercad users, one of the relevant things to consider is what they are doing with the product. Once we relaunched Tinkercad and started gathering a better understanding of the user base, it was very clear that our users were trying to build models for Minecraft, without a clear and easy way of doing the export.
When talking to some of these users, we learned about the current steps to export into Minecraft, which involved the usage of several applications, the understanding of a lot of file formats and the loss of information (as the color).
This was the main driver for this new and exciting feature. Let’s see how it works.
First of all, let’s open a model in Tinkercad. If this is your first time, go to https://tinkercad.com/ and create your profile.
In this case, I made a castle by using some of the shapes available in Tinkercad, and also imported an STL file from 123D Creature.
If you are not familiar with Tinkercad, it has a very simple and intuitive way to make operations between objects. Simply define some of them as holes, and once grouped, they will subtract from the rest of the solid objects in the group. This is the way I made the battlements at the top of the walls and towers.
In order to import an STL file into Tinkercad, you should use the Import option, which allows you to browse for an STL file in your computer. Then you will define its size (which you can then scale up or down after being imported).
Once you got your model finished, click on Design and select Download for Minecraft. This will invoke a dialog where we’ll define the size.
In order to define the size, we need to give a reference based on mm (which is the unit used in Tinkercad’s grid). In this case, if we want to keep the level of detail on the battlements, the size in mm can’t be more than 2mm per Minecraft block. The lower this number, the higher the resolution and the higher the size inside Minecraft.
Once you click export, Tinkercad will allow you to download a *.schematic file, which is the file you will import into MCEdit (the Minecraft editor).
If you have never used Minecraft, after installing the game, you need to create a new world. You may want to check the options for creating a large world, or a flatter one.
Once your world is created, you will need to close Minecraft and open MCEdit. These applications can’t be open at the same time. This is a really important tip, so make sure you close one before opening the other. You may also want to make sure you have the latest of both. Minecraft is currently in the 1.6.2 version (you can get it here: https://minecraft.net/). MCEdit is currently in version 0.1.7 (you can find it here: http://www.mcedit.net/).
When you open MCEdit, you will find your world in the menu. If you don’t see it, click on Open a level and try to find it. MCEdit will default to the location where Minecraft saves the levels, so this should be easy anyways.
Click on Import in the options below, and you will be able to locate your model in the scene. Check the options in the panel on the left in order to have more control on the location.
You may also want to make sure that your character spawns next to your model. Click on the option highlighted below and define this position. If you are in a big world and you appear really far from your model, you will need to do some walking, and probably find some zombies or skeletons along the way.
Save your model in MCEdit, close it, and then open Minecraft. Your model will be in place, and you will also notice that Tinkercad also kept the colors of your model (as much as we can, since we need to map to the block colors we can find in Minecraft).
While developing the exporter, we found out that we could not map the color red to Lava Red. Our first export was a house, and all the bricks started melting. Pretty spectacular, but not too useful to keep the enemies outside at night!
I hope you’ll find this feature as fun and useful as we found it. Big thanks to the amazing development Tinkercad team (Petr, Brandon, Frederic), and also a special thanks to Eric Haines, who showed us the possibilities around Minecraft. You may want to check his work in http://www.realtimerendering.com/erich/minecraft/public/mineways/
You can also watch this video that shows the whole process.