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Documentation

To quickly get started, see the downloads page. For problems, see the troubleshooting section; let me know if you're still stuck. Check the quick reference page for a brief rundown of mouse and keyboard controls, menu and export options, and what the files included with Mineways each do. Read this for the process I go through when exporting for 3D printing.

Normally you can just hit "OK" on the export dialog and things will work fine. Read on if you want to understand how to make your models less expensive, use different texture packs, and otherwise tailor you want to see printed out. What follows is extensive documentation about each part of the export and print process. If you don't want to wade through it all, at least search this page for the phrase "Key tip", as these bits are particularly useful.

Subscribe to the Mineways mailing list - it's for only important announcements, such as new version releases.

Installation

Installation is trivial: download and unzip (using 7-Zip or other decompressor) to some directory, like the desktop.

Uninstall: just delete the directory. If you created color schemes, there will be a few small entries in the registry, If you are fanatical and want to clean these out, search for "Mineways" in your registry editor and you'll find them.

Double-click the mineways.exe to run the program.

Opening Worlds and Schematics

There are many ways to open a Minecraft world or schematic file in Mineways. If one doesn't work for you, try the next.

File | Open World: In the "File" menu header there is "Open World". Click (or hover) and move to the right to select your world. These are the worlds in your "%appdata%\.minecraft\saves" directory. The worlds are listed by their (not necessarily unique) given names on the left, their folder on the right, and arranged alphabetically by these folders. If you want to specify a different directory for where your world saves are located, use the "-s" option on the command line on startup; see the command line options.

If you want to export any particular block, use File | Open and select the "[Block Test World]" - this is an internally-generated "world" of blocks, with each block type listed from west to east in block ID order (for 1.12 and earlier; for 1.13 on I've assigned values greater than 255 in a somewhat sensible fashion), and with variants shown from north to south by their data values. To select a single block, find it, right-click it, then hit "[" to move the bottom level up by one, thus selecting only the block itself and not the surrounding grass.

Here's a view of a small portion of [Block Test World] exported to OBJ and rendered with Cinema 4D:

If you can't find your world in the list, you can select "Find your world..." at the bottom, which is the same as doing...

File | Open...: This option is for opening schematic files and worlds. Navigate to wherever your schematic or world is stored and select the level.dat file. On Windows, the default folder for world save files is "%appdata%\.minecraft\saves"; for Mac it's "~/Library/Application Support/minecraft/saves/". A pro tip: if you save or rename your schematic file to have the world "repeat" in it, e.g., rename "eiffel.schematic" to "eiffelRepeat.schematic", the schematic will load and be repeated across the map, with a minimum one block gap between each model. This can be useful if you want to create a single 3D print file that has multiple copies of the model. Also, for schematics, only, Control-A will select the whole schematic model. NOTE: the new schematic file format introduced by FAWE for 1.13 data is currently not supported in Mineways.

File | Import Settings: If you've previously exported a model from your world or schematic, you can select this data file (.OBJ, .WRL, or for STL export, the .TXT file generated) with Import Settings. Doing so will not only open your world, but will also set all the previous export settings you used to make this export file, including the color scheme and the terrain file chosen.

When you import a file's settings, the settings affect only the particular file type. For example, if you read in a WRL file for 3D printing, its settings will not affect OBJ rendering export (or even OBJ 3D printing export, for export settings specific to OBJ files, such as material output). This feature is backward compatible to Mineways 2.0, though features added since then will be given default values. A noticeable change in 5.01 is that the "Create composite overlay faces" is off by default; files from before 5.01 will read in but not change this option to on (which is what was used in 5.00 and earlier to export the model).

One other extremely useful type of file that Import Settings can read in is a script file. You can create script files to automatically perform all sorts of operations, including special ways of modifying blocks during export. See the scripting documentation for more information.

The first image is a schematic pikachu7795240.schematic loaded via "File | Open..." In the second the schematic is renamed pikachu7795240repeat.schematic and loaded. The word "repeat" in the file name tips off Mineways to repeat the object. Also, I typed Control-A to select a single copy of the schematic.

Here is a 3x3 set of objects output and viewed with G3D:

Mapping

Here's basic map use:

Selecting a Region

To create a 3D file for viewing or printing you first select a 3D box in your world. Whatever is in this box is exported. Hold down the right mouse button (or left mouse and Control key) and drag to define a selection area. Key tip: once a region is defined, you can then use the right mouse button to select an edge or corner and drag to fine-tune the rectangle. Hit the space bar to automatically adjust the depth to something reasonable, if need be. Pro users: Using the mousewheel with the Control key down changes the depth; using it with Shift down changes the visible height (this second mode can be slow, since the map is regenerated).

Once you make a selection, you may get a dialog as shown below. Mineways will detect when what you see is not what you'll get. It will ask if you want to set the depth so that everything you can see from above that you have selected will be exported.

Example Region Selection:
At first, the selected area excludes some terrain visible from above, as the current depth is too high.

Choosing "yes" lowers this depth and adjusts the slider

Note that sometimes the adjusted depth becomes too low, for example when the selection includes a deep hole. In photo above, the depth has been increased to the point where some terrain is now unselected. Bright pink shows terrain exactly at this depth.

By default, the heights used for the rectangular block are from y=63 (sea level) to y=255. The upper slider determines the visibility height, but usually you'll leave this one alone. You'll normally use it for viewing or selecting areas fully underground or in the Nether (or poking around your map to look for diamonds and other hidden treasures).

The selected export depth can be changed in a number of ways, even when no area is selected. The depth slider is the simplest way to modify this value. If you click the middle mouse button on a location, the depth is set to its height. The [ and ] keys shift the depth by one, and so are useful for tuning. The spacebar will also select a reasonable depth for your selection volume, based on visibility (water is considered invisible, so that the bottom of lakes will be solid). Holding shift while tapping the spacebar will treat water and glass as opaque, useful for 3D printing. See the full shortcut key list for more options.

Key tip: to see what you're doing, export the model and view with a viewer. I usually work by adjusting the box size and export options in Mineways, export, then viewing the file in G3D (which reloads the viewed file when you tap the "r" key) or, for .WRL files, MeshLab (unfortunately, their Alt-R reload doesn't clear out the previously-loaded file) to see the results. Open 3D Model Viewer is another free, solid viewer.

Exporting Models

If you want to render the model, select "Export for Rendering" from the File menu, or use Control-R, and save your file. The resulting file(s) can then be imported into a huge variety of 3D modelers and viewers, e.g., Blender. See this section for instructions for various popular modelers.

You can select "Export Model for 3D Printing", Control-P, to create a model suitable for sending to a 3D printer. Even if you don't have a 3D printer, you can still get it printed, usually for a reasonable price. See the next section for how to get going.

The big difference between rendering and printing is that 3D print models must be solid and well-formed. Currently Mineways treats all blocks as solid, full blocks: half-steps or stairs are treated as blocks, as is every other block. There is also no transparency for the materials, since printers do not currently support this type of creation. Models for rendering can, when full texturing is on, include billboard models for flowers, saplings, crops, and other elements. Note that the billboard locations are added in comments to the output .OBJ and .WRL files. In this way, a dedicated modeler could substitute his own elaborate grass, flower, or other models in place of the simple billboards Minecraft provides.

To make your model immediately viewable on the web in 3D, choose the third option "Publish to Sketchfab." Mineways directly uploads your model to the Sketchfab site and makes it displayable to everyone. It's fun and easy, honestly. Go here for detailed instructions.

The last option is "Export Schematic", which allows you to then import your model to another world by using WorldEdit or MCEdit. Note that Mineways can read any schematic file by using "File | Open...".

Mineways' schematic export option allows you to easily grab a volume of your world and turn it into a schematic file. This type of file is commonly used to share constructions among builders. Tools such as WorldEdit or MCEdit can be used to import them into other worlds, make duplicates, and many other operations. You can also upload and share these files on sites such as MCSchematics.com and Planet Minecraft. Signs will not have text, chests will lose their contents, objects such as paintings are not exported, and heads are turned into pumpkins. Currently no export options beyond the dimensions and the rotation angle affect schematic export in Mineways, and the rotation angle only partially works, mostly for full blocks that do not have any orientation. In other words, the orientation angle will rotate the model as a whole, but each individual block will not be rotated: stair steps and signs will still go the old direction, rails get "interesting," and so on. I'd avoid it... Also, 1.13 and newer elements will export as grass blocks and a warning is issued, since the standard schematic format does not support these.

Displaying with G3D

Once you have a model for rendering, you might want to preview it before importing it to 3D modeler. If you are using Wavefront OBJ files (the default) and not exporting separate tiles, I recommend the free G3D viewer (pro tip: hold the Alt key down and use WASD to move fast in G3D). This viewer now recognizes a special tag in the OBJ's material description that makes Mineways models display with the classic blocky Minecraft look. If you are export separate tiles, I suggest the Open 3D Model Viewer. If you use VRML or STL files, MeshLab is a fine free viewer for these other formats. See some other viewer options here.

Download this special version of G3D here. Unzip and run, then drop your .OBJ file on to the window to view it. Simpler yet, you can set up your Windows system to view .OBJ files with G3D when double-clicked. Just run register-G3D-viewer64-run-as-administrator.bat one time as administrator (see these instructions to learn how).

Camera controls: WASD for normal movement, ZC for up and down, QE for swivel. Hold down Shift to go more slowly, Alt to go fast. Escape to quit.

Aside from being a lovely renderer, G3D has additional features such as making a screenshot (F4) and recording a video (F6). The master G3D site is here.

Here's an example, side to side, of a lot of the blocks in Minecraft.

G3D displaying an OBJ rendering file:

OBJ render with G3D

Color Schemes

Color schemes allows you to change the color for any block, and - extremely useful for 3D printing - remove any blocks you want from view. Key tip: you can eliminate all glass from your model by setting its alpha to 0 in a color scheme. This part of this video shows how to use color schemes to do this.

How do use a color scheme: From the menu, Add a new color scheme, then Edit it. Change the name "Color Scheme" at the top of the dialog that pops up to something useful, then select any block type to edit it. Color is given in hexadecimal color format. You can use MWSnap (old but free), FastStone Capture (new but costs $20), or other programs to find the hexadecimal (e.g., #787878) color value of any pixel on your screen. 'Alpha' says how opaque a block will appear on the screen, with 255 meaning fully opaque and 0 meaning fully transparent (invisible). Blocks with an alpha of 0 will be deleted when exporting. You can turn off export of all blocks by using the "Hide All Blocks" button. This feature allows you to create separate parts, e.g., a glass roof could be created by then turning on just glass export. The "Hide Tree Blocks" hides all log and leaf blocks, making printing of 3D terrain simpler (trees are sometimes hard to print well).

Changing the color will affect the 3D print model's color for only the "solid material colors" and "richer color textures" export modes; "full color texture patterns" (the default on the export dialog) will not be affected (except water, a little bit). To change full color textures' colors, you need to edit the input terrainExt.png itself. See TileMaker.

"My Model's Too Expensive!"

If you export to 3D print and upload to Shapeways, you might be surprised to find that the price is sometimes just shy of a used car. For example, this model of our spawn area is 15 x 9.8 inches in size (about 190 x 125 blocks, 2 mm wide), and costs $633.14. Expensive models happen because either the model is too small, or too large. The problem with models with only a few blocks in them is that you'll then scale it up to see it: each block itself is then massive. You have to pay for each block's volume. Mineways can't help you much there, you'll need to use a CAD program to hollow out your object manually. Shapeways has a tutorial on hollowing.

The more common problem you can hit is the blocks are not small enough. This happens with larger models, those 100+ hour darlings you sweated over in Minecraft. The cause is that, by default, Mineways exports the model to print at a safe size. Colored sandstone has a thin wall dimension of 2 millimeters. This means if some wall in your model is less than 2 mm thick, it is in danger of breaking into pieces if printed in color.

Rule of thumb: colored sandstone has a cost of $6 for every thousand blocks printed at the default 2 mm/block. There's a fixed cost of $3 per model, and $6.50 shipping. For example, if you want to spend $50, at this scale your model can have about 6750 blocks, after subtracting the fixed costs.

There are some solutions to the price problem:

By the way, I hear "it would be cheaper using LEGOs" a fair bit. LEGO blocks cost around 4-5 cents a block, 2 mm colored sandstone 3D printed blocks run about 6/10th of a cent. There are advantages to LEGOs (larger, reusable, fun to make) and disadvantages (no textures, not perfect cubes), but LEGO cost is not an advantage.

By default, Wavefront OBJ *.obj (and *.mtl) files are exported for rendering, VRML97 (aka VRML2) for 3D printing. Here's the rundown of the various file types you can select, including some subtleties about each.

OBJ, absolute: Wavefront OBJ is an old format, so is commonly supported as an import format for a huge range of applications. If you export materials, a corresponding *.mtl file is output; if you export textures, one or more *.png files are also created. The .obj and .mtl files are text files, so can be edited or processed further. By selecting "absolute" for the OBJ file, indices are absolute (positive), the norm. This is the format to use for export for upload to Sculpteo. See other export choices in the OBJ file export options documentation.

OBJ, relative: relative indices are used on faces. These allow you to concatenate two or more OBJ files into a single OBJ file.

Binary STL: This file format is commonly used by 3D printers. It normally is used for single-color materials, but the exporter will use either the Materialise Magics or VisCAM format to attach colors to triangles - see this article. I recommend using VisCAM's variant, as MeshLab will then display the proper model colors. When STL files, binary or ASCII, are exported a corresponding *.txt file is generated with information about the model. This same data is included in the beginning of the *.obj and *.wrl files themselves. This text file can be read back into Mineways using "Import Settings" to set everything back the way it was set before.

ASCII text STL: A variant for 3D printers, the file generated is considerably larger than the binary form and cannot include color. The main advantage is that this file type is a simple text file and so can be easily edited. The format is trivial and so can provide a raw set of triangles for a model.

VRML97: Also known as VRML2 or VRML 2.0. While this format has been superseded by X3D, it is commonly supported by a wide range of packages. That said, its main reason for existence here is that it's the only file format that Shapeways uses for colored models. The *.wrl and *.png file created are put into a zip file and uploaded to Shapeways for printing - see more about this process below. The VRML file produced is tailored toward making a single texture for printing. Note: Shapeways will properly preview all VRML output modes other than "solid material colors", where it has a limit of 16 different colors. These colored models will print fine, however. VRML97: Also known as VRML2 or VRML 2.0. While this format has been superseded by X3D, it is commonly supported by a wide range of packages. That said, its main reason for existence here is that it's the only file format that Shapeways uses for colored models. The *.wrl and *.png file created are put into a zip file and uploaded to Shapeways for printing - see more about this process below. The VRML file produced is tailored toward making a single texture for printing. Note: Shapeways will properly preview all VRML output modes other than "solid material colors", where it has a limit of 16 different colors. These colored models will print fine, however.

Export options

There is a bewildering dialog that pops up on export, with a ton of options. You can blithely ignore this dialog and always just click OK (or the Enter key). However, some of the options are extremely useful, so plow on if you want to make sure your model is good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it people will like it.

export dialog

World coordinates selection: you can see and change the 3D volume of space to export from your world. If you want to know the location of a place in your world, use the F3 key when playing Minecraft. Note that negative values like -5.239 will round down to -6. Also note that your Y-value altitude is one higher than where your feet are located, and so two higher than the ground beneath you.

Key tip: If you exported a model in an earlier session and want to use the same settings for another export, read the model file (.OBJ, .WRL, or for STL the .TXT file) with the "Import Settings" command from the "File" Menu.

Create a ZIP: like it says, when exporting for 3D printing a ZIP file of the exported files is created, ready for upload for 3D printing at Shapeways or other service.

Create files themselves: the exported files themselves are also made available for previewing. By default, this option is off for VRML 3D printing, on for everything else. This is done because too often the .wrl file got uploaded to Shapeways; you must upload the .zip file.

Material export:
Remember that for any format you can turn off a block from being output (and being visible) by setting its alpha to zero in your own color scheme.

On the left of the dialog are texture options:

Content is shown on the left exported with "full color texture patterns" and on the right with "tiles for textures." Mipmapping works properly with separate image tiles.

mip bleeding vs. not bleeding

Texture output: If you export textures, there are three types of files that can be output to PNG files, as needed. "RGB" is a colors-only file, "RGBA" is colors and transparency, "A" is just the transparency values. For 3D printing, only the RGB file is exported. For rendering export, if any blocks needing transparency are found in your model, then the "RGBA" and "A" files are also exported. Most rendering systems need only one or two of these file types, not all three. You can turn off output of any of these file types by unchecking the corresponding box.

This option can save you much time if you are exporting again and again while using a large custom terrainExt file (the next paragraph explains what this file is). You can export your model once with textures on, then modify your export and, by exporting to the same file name, you don't need to export the textures again. For the "tiles for textures" option, you need to uncheck all boxes to turn off tile creation and export - one box checked means all tiles will be output.

The one file you may want to change is the terrainExt.png file that comes with Mineways. To select a different terrainExt.png file, use the "Set Terrain File (terrainExt.png)" under the File menu. Mineways comes with a number of premade terrainExt.png files for you to try. If you have a terrainExt.png file you would always like to use by default, copy it into the directory where mineways.exe is located and call it terrainExt.png, replacing the one that is there.

To make terrainExt.png files yourself, use the TileMaker.

Here are some of the texture pack terrainExt.png files distributed with Mineways, displayed with G3D.

Click on an image for the larger version.

The effective 3D print resolution of textures appears to be around maybe 10x10 for the default output block size of 2 mm/block. Fine details are unlikely to be visible, though sometimes I'm surprised to see them.

Click on an image for higher resolution versions.
small grillwork This model was made using Glimmar's Steampunk terrainExt.png and printed at 2 mm/block. It appears that the glass cube grillwork texture has some synchronization problem with the printer, causing the pattern to sometimes print out incorrectly.
3 mm chain

This model is printed at 3 mm/block and shows the original 16x16 TNT tile; however, at both ends the fidelity becomes poor.

5 mm chest

This model, from Alexander Boden, is a 5 mm/block print which clearly shows details such as cobblestone and tree bark.

One warning: 128x128 and larger tile texture packs will work (and will take a while to process), but previewing these files in an interactive viewer may not work. This is because DirectX and OpenGL have limitations on the maximum texture size. These texture files should display fine in offline renderers.

Internals: the tiles are each given a border 1 pixel wide. This border avoids bilinear interpolation artifacts. However, mipmapping will not work well, since tiles are next to each other, so disable it for rendering (other sampling techniques should work fine). If you cannot disable bilinear interpolation in your renderer and want a blockier look, take your terrainExt.png file and resize it to be say 4x larger in both directions - you can use the TileMaker program included with Mineways (use the "-t tileSize" option), or any other image manipulation program (I'd use "nearest neighbor", if possible - IrfanView has this option when resizing a texture by doing "Size method: Resize"). Note: from experimentation, this higher resolution does not improve the clarity of 3D texture printing.

On the left, the basic 256 x 544 terrainExt.png file is used; on the right, the input terrainExt.png image is resized (without filtering) to 1024 texels wide. You can download high-resolution versions of terrainExt.png: 1024 wide and 8192 wide.

low resolution high resolution

You can also interactively compare these sampling methods here vs. here.

Wavefront OBJ file export options:

Confused yet? There are non-obvious interactions among the various settings. Here is a table summarizing the combinations.

Export separate types Export individual blocks Material per object Split by block type Effect on objects Material library produced
SELECTED unchecked SELECTED unchecked Default for rendering: Polygons are grouped by block family Each block family has a separate material
SELECTED unchecked SELECTED SELECTED Polygons are grouped by block type Each block type has a separate material
SELECTED unchecked unchecked unchecked Polygons are grouped by block family Single material
SELECTED unchecked unchecked SELECTED Polygons are grouped by block type Single material
unchecked unchecked (grayed out) (grayed out) Default for 3D printing: No group for the whole model, just the material Single material
unchecked SELECTED SELECTED unchecked Each individual block is in its own group Each block family has a separate material
unchecked SELECTED SELECTED SELECTED Each individual block is in its own group Each block type has a separate material
unchecked SELECTED unchecked unchecked Individual blocks are output, but grouped by block family Each block family has a separate material
unchecked SELECTED unchecked SELECTED Individual blocks are output, but grouped by block type Each block type has a separate material

G3D material: Checking this box causes a more elaborate illumination model to be output. Specifically, the parameters Ns, Ka, map_Ka, illum, and Tf are set, and Ke is made twice as bright for any light sources (I will be removing this Ke doubling in version 5.05, as G3D no longer needs it; as it stands, the latest G3D viewer works better when not using the G3D material!). Originally this option was meant to make the (great and free) G3D previewer happy, but now G3D works about the same whether this box is checked or not.

Make Z the up direction instead of Y: some graphics applications consider the Y direction to be "up", some Z. If your model imports sideways into your application, check (or uncheck) this box.

Create composite overlay faces: For 3D printing there cannot be "floating" cutout tiles such as vines, ladders, rails, torches, and so on. These block types are overlaid atop the underlying block and a new "composite" texture is saved and used. This process must be done for 3D printing. For rendering it is an option. The advantage of leaving this option off is that the result more closely matches Minecraft itself, and that each object has its own material. It also means that all render files exported could use single set of PNG textures, since no composite textures are created. The main drawback of having this option off is that you may encounter z-fighting problems, stray shadows, or other artifacts in your renderings.

This option was on by default for rendering up to version 5.00 of Mineways (in truth, it could not be turned off); as of 5.01 this option is off by default.

composite off Create composite option off (the default). The ladders, rails, and lily pad float a bit above the surface.
composite on Create composite option on. Note how the ladders, rails, and lily pad are attached to the surface.

Center model around the origin: when checked, the center of the bottom of the model is put at the origin, location (0,0,0). This helps for import into some renderers, and can improve the floating-point resolution of the data. If you want to instead have the same coordinate values as in your world, uncheck this box (you might also want to set the "Make each block" size to whatever you like). Unchecking this option is useful if you do multiple exports from the same world for rendering and want them to use the same coordinate space. Multiple exports are a way to get around the export size limits for the 32-bit version of Mineways, which is what runs on the Mac.

Use biome in center of export area: Instead of the default colors (seen on the Plains biome), use the grass, tree, and water colors computed by the biome in the export. Currently the biome at the center of the export is used for the whole export. I hope to export multiple biomes someday, but this is a complex export, as it can require many different color variants of grass and tree blocks. See the biomes display option for how to display the biomes.

Create block faces at the borders: this option is only available for rendering, to reduce polygon count. When on, the edges of the export the model are sealed off with whatever blocks were at the borders. For 3D printing this is necessary, as the model must be a solid object. For rendering these side and bottom polygons often are not needed, as the camera is usually positioned to never view these areas of the model. Turning this option off for rendering also allows better "tiling", where you export a world piece by piece and read all the pieces in (see center model, above), as it pays more attention to neighboring blocks just outside the borders. Note: the various 3D print "fill air bubbles" methods will turn off this method (it's a bug).

In the scene below, the camera is dollied out to see the borders. The model with borders off, on the right, has about 15% less polygons in it.

Tree leaves solid (less polygons): this option is only available for rendering, to reduce polygon count. Tree leaves are "cutout" textures, which means that by default each leaf block is exported, along with the trunks. In forested scenes this can make for a lot of extra polygons. By checking this box, leaves are made solid with a black background, which then allows many less polygons to be generated. For example, in the scene below, rendered with G3D, the transparent leaf model has 986k triangles, the solid leaf model just 369k triangles.

The rest of the options mostly have to do with 3D printing, which follows.

Exporting to 3D print

As background, view the Shapeways 3D color printing process video. Layers of material are laid down and solidified at the appropriate spots. Unsolidified "sand" is vacuumed away. You pay by volume, not by complexity. What this means to you is: avoid making enclosed spaces with tiny entrances. Unfortunately, most buildings are just that: large rooms with small doors. Your job is to make sure your model has either no openings at all, in which case the Hollow option can clear out the inside, leaving just a shell. Alternately, make escape holes yourself using snow blocks, which you then melt after all processing of your model. I'll explain these options below.

There are other potential pitfalls with 3D printing, such as thin wall problems (more here), and too many polygons (rare for a Minecraft model), to name just two. Shapeways' tutorial pages and materials pages give you a lot to chew on, Sculpteo has a good single-page rundown. The Mineways program tries to guide you past the major pitfalls, but it's always possible to generate something that's essentially unprintable: too weak, holes too small to clear out the dust, or some other problem. Browsing the tutorials there should help you understand what is possible. Options follow.

Rotate model clockwise: Can be useful for choosing a default view angle for other programs reading in the model produced. For example, the view of the model is rendered by Shapeways from the south-south-east. So if your model faces west, you might rotate it 270 degrees to have it face south and so display better on your models page.

3D printing related options: There are four major ways to scale your model.

Physical material: choosing a material here from among some of the Shapeways material options sets the default wall thickness and constrains the "Aim for a cost" option. It also ensures that the price is computed for that material and output in the top of the model file (or associated *.txt file, for STL output). Key tip: if you look at the export file Mineways creates for you (the .OBJ, .WRL, or for STL the .TXT file) in a text editor, at the top you'll find all sorts of useful information about the model and how you generated it.

The "White & Flexible" material has a smaller minimum wall thickness compared to "Colored Sandstone" (0.7 mm vs. 2.0 mm), so much smaller (and cheaper) models can be created in it. White & flexible is plastic and durable, colored sandstone is heavier, fairly strong, but brittle. Shapeways has a tutorial on how to paint this white plastic material, which can be fun in itself. Note that the ceramics material has a maximum wall thickness of 15 mm, something Mineways does not check; this material is also the only one where you are charged by surface area instead of volume (which Mineways does compute).

The "Custom Printer" material is used for STL export. By default, it is set to show the approximate cost of a print for 1.75 mm PLA priced at $24 for a 1 kilogram spool. The cost numbers are modifiable by using a script. See the scripting commands for "Custom printer" for how to set new cost values.

Model's units: when a model is saved, the values stored in the file are not in any particular units, like meters or inches. However, 3D printers need this scale for printing the model. Millimeters are assumed, as this is what Shapeways uses by default. For other services and printers, other units are assumed. Here's a brief rundown:

By default, the model is heavily processed to clear up a number of potential 3D printing problems:

Fill air bubbles: any hollow area is filled with solid material (specifically, glass, which can sometimes be seen when doing base hollowing, below). This option can also potentially reduce the polygon count when exporting for rendering. There are two sub-options:

Example: in the first image, the inside of the building is not filled in. In the second, the "Seal off entrances" export box is checked. Since the model has window and door gaps that are only a block wide, these will be detected and the interior will be filled in, as shown on the right.

Wide door example: in the first image, the inside of this simple building is visible. In the second, the "Seal off entrances" export box is checked. The torches are then considered as blocking the entrance; since the entrance is fully sealed off, the room is filled with glass. This example is trivial, but by placing torches you can seal rooms off so that they fill up with glass, then get hollowed by the "hollow" option, described further on, thus saving on printing areas difficult or impossible to see from outside.

Another wide door example: Another way to seal off large doors or windows is to add snow blocks. Here a two-block-wide door will not automatically be sealed off by the "seal off entrances" option. By adding snow blocks and then also enabling the melt option, the building interior will be sealed off and then the snow blocks removed before output.

Connect parts sharing an edge: certain non-manifold edges (where two blocks are diagonal and share an edge) are eliminated by a welding process in which more blocks are added. This welding process normally occurs only when it joins pieces that otherwise would be separated and fall apart.

Example:
With all connect parts options off the strings of the balloons do not connect. These will probably print as separate bits.

Blocks sharing an edge are connected. Some parts of the strings touch only at corner tips, so are still not connected. Note that for these examples the "delete floating objects" option was turned off, as otherwise the disconnected string bits would have been removed.

Corner tips are connected, and now each balloon will print correctly.

Debug mode, showing edge connecting blocks as lava and tip connecting blocks as pink wool.

Delete floating objects: if objects hang in space, these are eliminated if they're small (less than 16 blocks in size) or are entirely tree logs and leaves. This step eliminates parts of trees hanging along the edge because of where the selection box is located. If you get a warning about there being more than one part in a model exported, crank the block number up to 1000 or more to get rid of larger chunks (once you know what those chunks are - see the debug display parts mode below). If you're sure you want just the one connected group in the scene, set this value to 999999 and only the largest object in the scene will be saved. This option can help tidy up a model for rendering or Sketchfab, too, by deleting tree foliage poking into an exported volume.

Example:
Exporting without deletion of floating objects results in a hunk of foliage hanging in space.

The "debug showing groups" option shows the disconnected group (the black columns are support columns created when hollowing).

Turning on deletion of floating objects, the floating foliage is deleted. Note the clump of leaves from a chopped-off tree stuck to the house is not deleted: get out the shears in Minecraft, if you want to chop it clear.

Hollow out bottom of model: models are typically resting on an uneven ground layer, and building interiors are typically filled in. Hollowing clears out blocks inside the model, making it less expensive and faster to print. The "super hollow" option is more aggressive, searching hollow areas found to see if more can be carved out.

This option, used in conjunction with seal off entrances, can make detailed models stronger. If the interior of a model is entirely filled in by the "fill air bubbles" process, it can then be hollowed out and the walls left thick. For example, say you want to print your cathedral model with 1 mm wide blocks. The printer you want to use needs walls at least 2 mm thick. Instead of manually adding blocks to the interior of your entire model, by using the seal off the entrances option you fill the interiors in with solid blocks. When you hollow, you set the hollow width to 2 mm, or even 3 mm, and now the exterior walls will be made a few blocks thick, automatically.

Technical note: superhollow can sometimes create little separate objects at the bottom layer unconnected to the rest of the model, pieces of tunnel not cleaned out. You'll need to also turn on the "fill in isolated tunnels" box to have these removed ("delete floating objects" should do this, but currently does not).

Example:
Hollowing is off and tunnels are not sealed.

Tunnels are sealed (the glass blocks). While this briefly increases the block count, hollowing will cut it considerably.

Basic hollowing is performed; the cutaway shows how far it penetrates into the teapot. Block count is reduced from 26.8k blocks to 14.7k blocks.

Superhollowing is performed, reducing the count further, to 8.3k blocks. The escape hole between teapot and ground looks to be large enough to clear the sand (and indeed it was, see this photo)

Melt snow blocks: The seal off entrances option automatically looks for one-block-wide entrances and windows and seals them off. If you have wider entrances, off-axis windows (such as in a dome), holes in the roof, or other features, instead of adding torches or ladders to help seal these off, you can use snow blocks to do so. The melt option then removes these snow blocks from your model just before output. See the seal off entrances option description for an example of its use.

Export lesser, detailed blocks: when 3D printing, this option is off by default; for rendering it is on. When not checked, smaller objects, such as signs, fences, and torches are removed - only nearly-block-sized or important blocks are exported. This option is on by default when exporting full color textures for rendering; turn it off to remove the "billboard" objects and other smaller geometry objects. Remember you can also turn off output of any block type by setting its alpha to zero in your own custom color scheme. I've given you the ability to shoot yourself in the foot for 3D printing; I leave it to you to turn off any block types you think are likely to break off. As such, if you use this option you should probably turn off the "Connect parts sharing an edge" and "Delete floating objects" options further down, as these are likely to not work well - only full blocks are tracked when using these features. When exporting lesser blocks it's better to add and delete blocks by hand and not have the program clean up the data. If you do want to check for floating objects, I recommend exporting full blocks first (which will perform the check properly if the option is checked), then export lesser blocks with the option off.

Checking this box for 3D printing is risky, but will allow you to export slabs, stairs, and many other smaller elements as true geometry. The table gives specifics about what is printable, under the "Lesser" column. The model produced with this option on can have some geometry that's tough for some 3D print slicers to process. The risk is that the service bureau or printer software cannot properly interpret your files. If you are printing a single-color model, use the free cloud version of netfabb to preprocess your model. Shapeways also uses netfabb to process your uploaded models, so you should have no problems with the mesh itself using their service. You may still have problems with features being too thin to reliably print. If you truly want to print some geometry that Mineways won't output for 3D printing, e.g., you want to make a large banner model, you can always export via rendering and perform cleanup yourself (such as removing billboards).

If you use another service bureau such as Sculpteo, look over your uploaded model for any missing block or texturing errors. Secret Sculpteo trick: you can see a large view of your model by using the URL http://www.sculpteo.com/en/embed/design/<xxx>, where you put the 8 character identifier for your model in place of <xxx>. For example, for this model the 8 characters in the URL are "hfM9BZw2", so use http://www.sculpteo.com/en/embed/design/hfM9BZw2 to see it large. Try these two links and compare.

Shapeways merges most of the "lesser blocks" geometry properly but fails with some textures.

Sculpteo does the texture merge properly, but is missing a stair step on the right part of the roof.

Sculpteo's solidity check feature showing how fences along the top of this palace model are likely to break off.

Currently some thin objects, such as sign posts and single fence posts, are exported. These are likely to break off, especially at small block sizes. You might want to "shore up" thin features by placing blocks below them (such as for roofs made of stair steps) and next to them (such as for doors). Alternately, turn off export altogether by setting the alpha for the block type to 0 in a color scheme.

Below are three prints done with fences, stair and slab roofs, and other small blocks. On the left, 1 mm/block, the fences and thin pillars have sheared right off. 2 mm/block, in the middle, survived intact for the most part - not surprisingly, a free-standing door at the rear broke off. With 3 mm/block, on the right, a part of the fence broke off when the superglue was applied. More photos can be found here. (Image courtesy of Alex Boden)

Fatten lesser blocks: If you do decide to export using the "lesser" option, by default some of the more delicate blocks are made fatter so that they are less likely to break off during printing. No guarantees! The blocks fattened are: fences, fence gates, doors, free-standing sign posts (which I suspect will still snap off), pressure plates (since they sometimes get used for table tops), bells, and a number of others - see the table.

There are also two debug print options available, both shown in examples above. The "Debug: show floating parts" option does just that: the largest object is made semitransparent and smaller groups each given a unique color, so that you can see what pieces of the model are not connected. Either remove these smaller parts by kicking up the "delete floating objects" limit, or go into Minecraft itself and add blocks to attach them together. That said, separate parts are fine in a file if you know what you are doing: you could be making a chain of separate links, or could have a number of individual pieces (such as letters) you want to create in a single print run.

The "show weld blocks" option shows what blocks are added by the various "connect parts" options. If you don't like where the welds are put, you can go into your Minecraft world and edit the model yourself. Key tip: you can run Mineways and play Minecraft at the same time. So, you can edit your world in Minecraft, then reload the world into Mineways by pressing the "r" key. The selected area won't be cleared when you do so, so you can edit, reload, export, and view the model (in a separate viewer); lather, rinse, repeat. This is an efficient way to improve and view any model you're working on.

TileMaker

TileMaker is a command-line utility for making a terrainExt.png file, which is the file that Mineways uses to add textures to surfaces. Note: currently the program works only on the PC. I have heard you can run it through WINE or some emulator (which should work but costs money).

TileMaker works by using a few different textures from Minecraft or from a resource pack to create a new texture to feed to Mineways. Specifically, here's how to set things up:

You can then feed this file to Mineways using "File | Set Terrain File". If you want this new file to be the default used at startup, simply replace the terrainExt.png file that comes with Mineways. To sum up:
TileMaker.exe and terrainBase.png
blocks directory filled with files from assets\minecraft\textures\blocks and barrier.png perhaps from assets\minecraft\textures\items
chest directory inside a copy of the assets\minecraft\textures\entity\chest directory

A problem with this approach is that TileMaker will run, popping up a window briefly and then disappearing. There are often warnings and sometimes errors, which you will miss. Better is to use the CMD window, go to the directory where TileMaker is located (using the "cd" command), then type "TileMaker" and see what warnings and errors you get. Any error will halt execution, at which point you'll want to fix the error and run again. You can usually use the "up arrow" key to bring up the last command you typed in, e.g., "TileMaker".

A little background might help. Minecraft itself and all resource packs have their own block image files. You'll find your Minecraft executable in a directory such as "C:\Users\YourName\AppData\Roaming\.minecraft\versions\1.10.2". If you unzip the Minecraft jar file there, e.g., 1.10.2.jar, you'll find the tiles used in the jar directory "assets\minecraft\textures\blocks". They have names such as "anvil_base.png" and "cake_side.png". These are what Minecraft uses to display blocks, and what the TileMaker utility uses to make the terrainExt.png used by Mineways.

What TileMaker does by default is simple: it reads in the terrainBase.png file, overlays it with any tiles in the "blocks" subdirectory (replacing the originals), extracts the chests from "blocks\chest", then writes out this new image as terrainExt.png. TileMaker's main task is to resize all tiles to the largest tile found. For example, if you had a bunch of 16x16 size block tiles in the "blocks" directory, along with one large 64x64 tile, the output terrainExt.png would have all its tiles be 64x64 in size. Chests' sizes are ignored during this resizing calculation.

TileMaker does do some special processing. The "chest" subdirectory normally has three chest tiles: ender.png, normal.png, and normal_double.png, to generate chest tiles - see the _readme.txt file there. The main directory has some "guide" tiles that are not standard Minecraft tiles. These have the prefix "MW_" and are mostly self-explanatory (or search this page for more information).

If you use the command line, there are many options available for doing more elaborate operations (such as forcing a particular tile size, or using a different input directory or output file name), but then you need to run TileMaker from the command line or in a .bat file. In the command line you use "cd" to go to the directory where the TileMaker.exe file is located, then do something along these lines:

TileMaker -d blocks_doku -o terrainExtDoku.png
The "-d directory" option tells TileMaker to use this directory instead of "blocks" for the images you want to overlay. The "-o filename" tells it to write the resulting image to the filename given. Directory and image names cannot have spaces in them.

Here is a rundown of the other TileMaker options and their uses. To get a reminder of these, type:

TileMaker -?
on the command line.
TileMaker [-i terrainBase.png] [-d blocks] [-o terrainExt.png]
        [-t tileSize] [-c chosenTile] [-nb] [-nt] [-r] [-m] [-a] [-v]

-i terrainBase.png - image containing the base set of terrain blocks (includes special chest tiles). Default is 'terrainBase.png'.

-d blocks - directory of block textures to overlay on top of the base. Default directory is 'blocks'.

-o terrainExt.png - the resulting terrain image, used by Mineways. Default is terrainExt.png.

-t tileSize - force a power of 2 tile size for the resulting terrainExt.png file, e.g., 32, 128. Useful for zooming or making a 'draft quality' terrainExt.png - a low-resolution terrainExt.png makes for a much faster export. If not set, the largest tile found in the base or blocks directory is used.

-c chosenTile - for tiles with multiple versions (e.g., water, lava, portal), choose which tile to use. 0 means topmost, 1 second from top, 2 third from top, and so on; -1 bottommost, -2 next to bottom.

-nb - no base; the base texture terrainBase.png is not read. This option is good for seeing what images are in the blocks directory, as these are what get put into terrainExt.png. This terrainExt.png file is probably not usable as is, since terrainBase.png contains some special tiles, such as those for the chests.

-nt - no tile directory; don't read in any images in the "blocks" directory, only the base image is read (and probably zoomed, otherwise this option is pointless).

-r - replace (from the 'blocks' directory) only those tiles not in the base texture. This is a way of extending a base texture to new versions of Minecraft, while retaining existing blocks. For example, say you spend some time making a great terrainExt.png file you love. A new version of Minecraft comes out, adding say a wheat mill block. You put this new wheat mill block image in the blocks directory, get the latest version of Mineways/TileMaker (which hopefully would support the wheat mill), and run with "-r". This reads the blocks directory and checks the terrainBase.png at the same time. If terrainBase.png has no data for the tile's location, i.e., it's black with an alpha of 0, then the block is used to create a terrainExt.png file, otherwise the block is ignored.

-m - to report all missing tiles, ones that Mineways uses but were not in the tiles directory. This option is a way of finding if there are any images you can still add to the "blocks" directory. For example, if "nether_brick.png" is reported missing, you know that "blocks" doesn't have this image and that Mineways will use it. This merely means that the default terrainBase.png texture will be used instead.

-a - include alternate texture names when files are not found. These alternate names can be found in tiles.h, alternate names of textures sometimes found in block texture directories.

-s - output solid color. Instead of exporting the texture, export a solid color formed from the average color of the texture. This is useful if you want specific colors for block faces or for various IDs for a block type. The texture produced is more appropriate for 3D printing.

-S - output solid color with cutouts. As above, but for rendering. Note that the "grass_side_overlay" texture will still affect the side of the block, so modify this texture to avoid detailed grass block sides.

-v - verbose, explain everything going on. Default: display only warnings.

Rendering Tips

There are lots of cool add-on shaders for Minecraft. But, for truly stunning stills and animations you'll want a standalone package. This section covers the basics on importing Mineways files into various renderers: Blender, 3DS MAX, Maya, and Cinema 4D. If you want better geometry for some blocks, you should consider using jmc2obj (though personally I have problems getting it to work properly).

While I have your ear, you should also check out OptiFine, GLSL Shaders, and Unbelievable Shaders for in-game play or viewing: they have lots of cool rendering options.

Previewing:

To quickly check results before printing or importing into a rendering program, consider using an interactive previewer. MeshLab is a good previewer models in any format Mineways produces.

For rendering preview I recommend the G3D when using full color textures. It does not have cross-sectioning and supports only OBJ files, but has much better transparency support and shadows, and has screenshot and video capture built in.

What follows are steps for using various popular rendering software packages. There are always more; for example, this article talks in depth about using RenderMan for rendering.

Blender

Here's a quick beginner tutorial from Alexander Boden, along with ideas by Milenco Mulder and others; if you have anything to add, let me know. This is for Blender version 2.75a but should mostly work on newer versions. You'll also want to consider using MCprep in conjunction with Mineways to improve your materials, geometry, etc. Alternative Minecraft exporters for Blender include jmc2obj, a general-purpose and full-featured exporter (which I can't figure out any more), and Mineblend, which is dated, but is tailored specifically for Minecraft to Blender import.

There is some additional (dated) information on Blender and Mineways in this and this thread. There are a number of other add-ons for Blender with Minecraft, e.g., these rigs, which can give you models that Mineways itself currently does not export.

1) Open your World in Mineways, then, select the area for exporting (hold right mouse button and drag the rectangle).

2) Choose "File | Export Model for Rendering" and save the file as a Wavefront Object (.obj) to a folder of your choice. Let's call it myobject.obj or whatever you like. You could simply click "OK" in the dialog with the export settings. However, choosing the "Export tiles for textures" on the left can give better filtering results, especially for areas in the distance with large scenes, as mipmapping will be more effective.

3) Open Blender 2.75a (or later) and click anywhere on the screen to make the splash screen disappear. Then press "x" (or "delete"), and then "Enter". This deletes the default cube on the screen.

4) Import the model: select "File | Import | Wavefront (.obj)" from the menu. Search and select for your Mineways export file (the .obj file) and click "Import OBJ" (or just double-click the file name itself). Wait a bit.

If you cannot select Wavefront from the Import dialog, you have to activate this file format first from the settings menu. Select "File | User Preferences", activate the "Addons" tab, and scroll down in the list until you find "Import-Export: Wavefront OBJ format)". Just activate the checkbox at this entry, dismiss the settings dialog and try importing again.

5) Turn on textured display: near the bottom of the viewport, above the animation timeline, is "View Select Add Object" and so on. Just to the right of "Object Mode" is a shaded white sphere. Click on it and pick "Texture". You should now see the model as textured.

6) Resizing: The model we have just imported is probably small on the screen. There are two solutions: one is to use the mouse scroll wheel to zoom in and out - this changes the camera's location. Alternatively, move the cursor to the center of the screen, hit "s", and move the mouse until you have the right size, then click the left mouse button to save the size. This second method changes the size of the model itself, which you might not want to do.

7) Rendering: You are now ready to do a first render of your model. Just press "F12" or select "Render | Render Image" from the menu and have a look.

8) Material Conversion:Material Conversion: You may wish to make better materials for your objects. The easy routes are to either use one of two scripts provided with the Mineways distribution: CyclesMineways.py, or possibly blender_mineways.py, created by Nicky and improved by Wyatt Jameson. The third easy choice is MCprep, a Blender python script that can improve model quality of Mineways and jmc2obj exports.

9) Camera: Go back to the interactive view by hitting "F11". Move your view around with the middle mouse button. You can rotate by dragging with middle-mouse, or hold down shift and you'll pan, or hold down control and you'll dolly. Once you like the view, click Control-Alt-Numpad 0 to set the camera to your view. If you always want your current view to show what is rendered, while in interactive mode select "View" (in the lower left), "Properties", and under the View area select "Lock Camera to View". If you found the right angle and perspective for your camera, you can fine tune a couple of parameters in the camera menu. This can be found by first selecting the Camera object from the list of objects in the upper right, then clicking the small film-camera (not the photo camera) symbol just below the list of objects, toward the right. When you click it, a section called "lens" should appear. You can set the "Shift" of the X and Y axis, as well as the focal length of the camera.

If you are happy with your results, you can select "Image | Save as Image" from the menu near the left bottom of the screen, or hit F3.

10) Ambient lighting: To achieve a more even lighting of your scene, select the "world" icon in the menu bar where you also found the camera and the lamp settings (i.e., just below the object list). Turn on the "Ambient Occlusion" checkbox in the parameter list below. Play with the "Factor" value in this section, I like something between 0.25-0.5. In this menu, you can also set the background of your scene in the "World" section. Pick the "Real Sky" option and set horizon and zenith colors as you wish.

11) Lighting: There is one predefined light source on the working area (which looks like a dot with two enclosing dotted circles). You'll usually have to zoom out to see it. You can right click to select it, or select the Lamp from the object list. Move it around the screen by selecting the red, green, and blue arrows and dragging. Then, select the Lamp settings in the same menu bar where you found the camera symbol. It looks like a small sun with four arrows pointing away from it in different directions. Click it, and you can find all kinds of parameters that affect the lighting of your scene. For example, try exchanging the "Point" type for "Sun", and play with the "Energy" value. You can also change the color by clicking the color field above the Energy settings. You can add Lamps from the "Add" menu in the upper left.

12) Render Size: You can also set several parameters of the Renderer by selecting the small photo camera icon in the menu bar where you also found the film camera, the lamp, and other choices. In the section "Dimensions", you can set the Resolution of the image, add a border, and so on. To export Full HD, you can set the Resolution to X:1920 and Y:1080, and set 100% in the bar below these settings.

13) Upload your creation to the Mineways Flickr group! (Optional, but extremely recommended)

There are other tools out there for Minecraft, such as the Boxscape rigs for characters. MCprep also has rigs, and can update models in Mineways to more elaborate meshes.

Here's a typical result, made in a few minutes:

3DS MAX

Note: 3DS MAX is free for students and teachers.

These instructions are for 3DS MAX 2012. You might also try jmc2obj instead, as it does a better job producing some geometry. The steps here should also work for cleaning up jmc2obj OBJ models.

For newbies (like me): in a Viewport, middle-mouse button changes the view: mouse-wheel to zoom, button to pan, Alt key down to rotate, Control key down to fast-pan. Shift+Q to render. Steps are as follows:

Step 1: Get your world and region selected in Mineways, then select 'Export Model for 3D Rendering'.

Step 2: Save as the file type 'OBJ'. You may wish to try the "G3D full material" option, as this gives a slightly different water color by changing the diffuse color to white.

Step 3: Adjust the export options as you wish. Nothing is required here; by default, blocks will come in at a size of 1/10th meter each. You can adjust this by changing "Make each block 100 mm high"; for example, 1000 mm is 1 meter, MAX's unit size.

Step 4: Use the upper left MAX symbol menu and select Import. Find the .obj file and select it. In the OBJ Import Options, under Normals select Faceted to get Minecraft's blocky look. Alternately, if you want to smooth water surfaces a bit, select "Auto" and leave the setting at 30 degrees. Click "Import" at the bottom.

Step 5: Go to Render Setup in the Rendering menu (or just hit "F10"). Select the Renderer tab and uncheck the "Filter Maps" checkbox under Antialiasing. This makes cutout objects look correct, as well as making the Minecraft textures have their distinctive blocky appearance.

Step 6 (optional): At this point rendering should work fine. In interactive preview mode you will see some transparency problems in the Viewport. To fix these, bring up the material editor by pressing "M" and expand the view. Scroll down in the Material/Map Browser on the left and find "+ Scene Materials". Click on the "+" to show the scene's materials. Double-click on whatever material looks bad, e.g., Stationary_Water, Glass, Leaves, Torch, Tall_Grass, Sugar_Cane, Rose, Dandelion, or other cutout object. Now click on the "checkerboard-with-light" icon along the top, which does "Show Shaded Material in Viewport". This material should now look better. Do this for each material that looks bad. Press "M" again when finished, to dismiss the material browser. If someone knows a faster way to change all materials, let me know. Note that these fixes do not affect the final render itself.

Maya

Note: Maya is free for students and teachers.

Check out this video from this playlist, it shows how to set transparency and texture sampling. That said, you may want to use jmc2obj, which even comes with a MEL script to perform cleanup during import.

A problem with jmc2obj is that each material must be adjusted by hand. One option in Mineways that can speed import conversion is to uncheck the "Material per object" checkbox in the OBJ file export options. Doing so means you have to fix up only one material, though at the expense of not having a separate material per object (that said, you can always add new materials later). That said, this option tends to mess up Maya's display, as every object will be considered semitransparent and all will be sorted from back to front by depth in the interactive viewport, causing objects to flicker in front of each other. The scene will render just fine, however.

Cinema 4D

Here is how to import a model and set the textures for Cinema 4D. The steps are from this excellent video from this forum post, which includes a number of other useful Cinema 4D animation tutorials and resource links. Here's one more useful post. The instructions have been updated for Cinema 4D R18; older versions may need additional steps, as shown.

That said, you may want to use jmc2obj, another exporter. The main downside of jmc2obj is that you have to reattach every single texture it generates by hand; Mineways uses just one texture, so the cleanup process is much faster.

Step 1: Get your world and region selected in Mineways, then select 'Export Model for 3D Rendering'.

Step 2: Save as the file type 'OBJ'. Use Absolute OBJ, not relative, as older versions of Cinema 4D do not read relative OBJs well.

Step 3: Adjust the export options as you wish. Nothing is required here; by default, blocks will come in at a size of 1/10th meter each. You can adjust this by changing "Make each block 100 mm high"; for example, 1000 mm is 1 meter. You may also wish to use the "Export tiles for textures" option, as this allows mipmapping and similar filtering in Cinema 4D to work better.

You may want to change the OBJ file export options in the upper right of the Mineways dialog, but the defaults are fine.

Step 4: Once the model is exported, open Cinema4D and drag into the main window the .obj file generated. Make sure the "Presets" at the top of the OBJ Import dialog is set to Default. (If you don't, your grass blocks will import upside-down.) Hit "OK".

Here is what the defaults are, just in case:

Cinema 4D object load

To move around the scene, hold down Alt and use the three mouse buttons and scroll wheel.

Step 5: Select all the materials in the material viewer, the row of spheres at the lower left. Do this by clicking one sphere and then hitting Control-A. All spheres should now be selected.

Step 6: In the material options area, in the right lower window, select the "Basic" box in the upper left. In the "Basic Properties" below uncheck the Reflectance option and check the Alpha option. Billboards such as grass and flowers should now look better.

Cinema 4D object basic material

Step 7: If you want to make textures look blocky, like they do in Minecraft, first click on the "Color" box next to the "Basic" box at the top of the material editor. In this area you will see a section below labeled "Color." In this section you will see "Color," "Brightness," "Texture," and just below that and to the right, "Sampling," which will say "<<Multi." In the menu list for this option choose "None." When you are done selecting, it will still say "<<Multi", but don't worry, you have changed it. See the figure below.

Cinema 4D color material

Step 8: Cutout objects such as flowers will still look fuzzy along the fringes. Now click on the "Alpha" box next to "Basic" and "Color." Again go down to "Texture" and under sampling choose "None." For a quick render to see the effect, click Ctrl-R.

You're now done. Note that there's a trade-off with Cinema 4D: you can't both have the blocky look and have better filtering (such as mipmapping) when you export to a single texture. You can get both effects by using Mineways' "Export tiles for textures" option.

Alternate method: VRML: If you have problems with OBJ import, or would prefer a single material for the whole scene, you can also import using VRML. Here are steps from James Christien (icecruiser xD; example C4D result here), with help from Huskyiee on alpha.

Step 1: Get your world and region selected in Mineways, then select 'Export Model for 3D Rendering'.

Step 2: Save as the file type 'VRML'.

Step 3: Adjust the export options as you wish. Nothing is required here; by default, blocks will come in at a size of 1/10th meter each. You can adjust this by changing "Make each block 100 mm high"; for example, 1000 mm is 1 meter.

Step 4: Once the model is exported, open Cinema4D and drag into the main window the .WRL file generated. Hit "OK" for the import options dialog.

Step 5: Once it is all loaded, if black ugly things are present on tiles - such as glass or torches - then double-click the material (the round sphere) in the materials viewer at the left bottom.

Step 6: On the material options, in the right lower window, select the "Basic" button. In the Basic Properties uncheck the Reflectance (in older versions, "Specular") and check the Alpha option. You should see to the right of the "Basic" button the button "Color", then "Alpha". Click on Alpha.

Step 7: In the Alpha settings, at the bottom is the Texture setting. Click on the little right arrow next to "Texture", go down the menu and select Bitmaps, and choose the corresponding PNG for the model. All the black things should now be gone, ready to be rendered properly.

Step 8: If you want to make textures look blocky, like they do in Minecraft, in the Alpha settings under Texture type from Sampling "MIP" to Sampling "none". Click on the "Color" button and change the Texture Sampling from "MIP" to "none" here, too. Note that in the interactive mode the textures will not look quite right, but when rendered are fine. For a quick render to see the effect, click Ctrl-R.

Publish to Sketchfab

Sketchfab is a free service that lets you upload your models and share them with others; try an example here or look at the end of these instructions. Mineways exports to it in a straightforward fashion, there are just a few steps to get your model up and running. It's always been possible to upload models to Sketchfab, see these illustrated instructions. With the 4.16 version of Mineways you can now publish directly from Mineways to Sketchfab. Note: you can always export a rendering as usual to an OBJ file and upload the ZIP of the files output to Sketchfab. This will give a somewhat different rendering style, sharp and less shadowed.

1) Sign up for an account on Sketchfab.

2) Open your World in Mineways, then, select the area for exporting (hold right mouse button and drag the rectangle), and choose "File | Publish to Sketchfab" from the menu.

3) The Sketchfab dialog will come up. Click on the button "Get your token." This will open a web page.

One line says "API Token," as shown below. Copy the API token, a long string of letters and numbers (a black box covers mine here), and paste it into the Sketchfab dialog. Fill in the other fields as you wish, then click "Upload" at the bottom.

4) When done, a new dialog comes up saying, "Your model has been uploaded. Click OK to view it on Sketchfab." - do that!

5) On the model's web page, adjust and save the view. You can orbit, pan, and zoom (mouse wheel). In the lower right corner is an eye icon, where you can switch to a "First Person" mode - I find it a bit zippy by default, so use the mouse wheel to dial down the speed. Also, if you double-click with the middle-mouse button on your object, you set the pivot point that the camera orbits around. Pick a nice view and then click "SAVE VIEW" in the upper left-hand corner.

6) In the lower right of the window click "SETTINGS" and choose "3D settings". I recommend clicking on the light-bulb icon in the upper left, then turn on the lights (just below); this will give shadows. There are lots of options here - explore and have fun! You can change the surrounding environment, make various materials look different, and other options. Annotations are nice for setting up views and touring your model.

7) In the upper right click "SAVE SETTINGS".. Then click "EXIT" and you're done.

If for some reason you can't get the "Publish to Sketchfab" feature to work for you, or you want to use anything but the default export options, there's another way to upload to Sketchfab that's only a little more work. Follow these instructions or go through the step-by-step below.

1) Open your World in Mineways, then, select the area for exporting (hold right mouse button and drag the rectangle), and choose "File | Export Model for Rendering" from the menu.

2) "File | Export Model for Rendering" and save the file as a Wavefront Object (.obj) to a folder of your choice. Let's call it myobject.obj or whatever you like. In the dialog with the export settings click on the option in the upper left click on "Create a ZIP file containing all export model files". Click "OK".

3) Sign up for an account on Sketchfab if you haven't already, then upload the zip file you created by clicking on the "UPLOAD" button in the upper right. A dialog pops up; click on "CHOOSE FILE" and upload the .obj.zip file you created. Click "CONTINUE".

4) Fill out the form as you wish. It's nice to add "minecraft" and "mineways" tags, so others can find your model. It's also nice to "Allow download", if you like.

At this point the steps are much the same as above, starting at step #5. The main difference is that your uploaded model is not published by default; for the last step you'll want to click "SAVE AND PUBLISH," then "EXIT."

One other thing you may wish to do is material cleanup. On the Sketchfab Materials tab (the center one) is the "Faces Rendering" option at the bottom. You may notice some "z-fighting" for objects such as sunflowers, where the two textures on each side of the flower fight each other. Choose a material at the top and select "Single sided" for that material. This will make the object look better.

An irregularity: if you download your uploaded model from Sketchfab, it may not display correctly. The short version is that you probably have to comment out the "map_d" field in the .mtl file for the model. Some viewers incorrectly grab the red channel instead of the alpha channel from the four-channel map that Sketchfab uses for compactness.

Here's an example of Sketchfab in action, a model I uploaded. Click on the window and you can interact with it. More models here and here.

Community Station by erich on Sketchfab

If you want to make a 3D print of a model, the easiest way is to use a 3D print service such as Shapeways or Sculpteo. The main differences are cost, quality, and speed of delivery. Shapeways is almost always less expensive, Sculpteo offers faster delivery and better supports the "Export lesser blocks" option, which lets you print out slabs, steps, fences, and other smaller bits in your model. 3D Hubs also has some users with full-color printers, so may be both competitive and fast. There are other 3D print services for consumers, such as i.materialise and Ponoko, but currently these two do not offer fully-textured 3D printing, just solid color blocks. There are many services offering single-color (i.e., single material, such as plastic) prints, such as any of the above or those on this list.

Shapeways

After creating an account (and creating a shop), go to the upload page. Choose a file for upload - you must pick the .ZIP file for your model that you created with Mineways, using 3D print export, e.g., "mymodel.wrl.zip". You also don't need to change the Unit of Measure: "millimeters" is the default and is what Mineways always outputs. Push the upload button.

Once you've uploaded, you will be taken to the model's page. Here you can preview the model in the window to make sure it looks correct. You can also order from this page by choosing the material. For a full color print you want to find "Natural (or Glossy, or Matte) Full Color Sandstone." If the material is not selectable, there may be a problem with your model. Select "Tools" near the top, just under "Bring your product to life" and choose "Open in 3D tools." You can now select the material you want and the page will show you exactly what test is failing, such as wall thickness or bounding box (model size).

Note there's a fixed cost per order. Be careful, however: you normally cannot cancel your order once placed. After you've made an order, the waiting begins, sometimes 2-3 weeks.

If you later want to make your product for sale or otherwise modify it, go to My 3D Models. Click on the three dots to the right of a model a choose the option "Edit Product."

See my humble shop as an example of how I set up various models.

Sculpteo

Go to the Sculpteo site and register for an account.

In Mineways, you normally want to export to Wavefront OBJ when exporting to print, using the "Sculpteo" file type. Sculpteo also accepts VRML2 files, but the OBJ exporter sets some useful defaults for Sculpteo, such as centimeters for model units. One major advantage of Sculpteo is that they support the "Export lesser blocks" option, which allows you to export slabs, stairs, fences, doors, and other smaller objects. Please read the documentation for that option before using it. Also note that when you export, the price shown is the Shapeways price; Sculpteo prices tend to be about a third higher overall.

Once you have your export file ready, on the home page click on the Upload a 3D file button in the upper right (you can also go to your account and find the "Upload a new design" link).

On the upload page choose a file - you must pick the .ZIP file for your model. Adjust the design name, description, keywords, and categories as you wish (personally, I fill these in later, when I'm sure the model is a keeper). Note you can also add French translations; I use Google Translate. Agree to the terms of use at the bottom and click "OK". Wait a bit.

You should then get a page showing your model has been uploaded. You can interact with it in the viewport using left-mouse, right-mouse, middle-mouse, and scroll wheel. Pro tip: note that rotating by going up and down near the edge of the window gives a different rotation than going up and down in the middle. This can help you adjust the "up" direction.

You now have a number of options. The "Click to see repair work on your model" shows where objects were merged - usually not that useful. "See the price" brings you to the main page for the model. From here you can do a wide range of operations, and they're mostly self-explanatory. You can choose the material (colored by default), change the overall scale (and see the new price), or perform a solidity check. This last option is useful for seeing if some part of your model is likely to snap off during printing.

Note the links above these options. "Settings" lets you add photos, change your description and sharing options, and set the initial scale for the object. "Customize" gives some worthwhile options, such as engraving text, adding images and symbols, and smoothing the design. This last option can give a different sort of look to smaller models, though there is a risk of some bits of the model becoming detached when printed.

Smoothing: done using Sculpteo's "smooth the design" customization option.

Scripting

By using "Import Settings" you can make Mineways do all sorts of things quickly. You can also temporarily modify blocks when exporting. It's easier to use than you might think, read about it here.

Related Resources

Here are some related (free) tools that are handy, collected in one spot:

Stuff to Print

Want something to try Mineways on? There are a number of sites with cool downloadable models and worlds, including: You could get a copy of our world, Vokselia. I've also got a Shapeways shop, where you can view photos of different 3D prints and download the model files themselves. You could also buy any of these (though you should just make your own!).

For something amazing, check this out (more here)- meta! Double-meta, I exported this model using Mineways, check it out.

Other Packages

Mineways is not the first to offer a Minecraft model exporter, nor necessarily the best for export for rendering. Minepedia has a page about exporters. Here's more information on the ones I know about and related services. They may fit your needs better than Mineways:

Minecraft Bedrock Support

Mineways works on only Minecraft Java (aka Classic) Edition worlds. Minecraft Bedrock Edition, once known as the Pocket Edition (or MCPE, or Pocket/Windows 10 Edition), uses an entire different database format for its worlds, called LevelDB. This section describes how to convert a Minecraft Bedrock world to a Minecraft Java Edition one so that Mineways can read it.

There are various converters out there. The one I focus on here is MCCToolChest PE. Also, MCEdit has worked in the past, but it comes and goes. Another possibility is to find some way to convert your model to the Schematic file format, which Mineways also reads. For consoles, you might try out this utility (old page), or this one.

Let's go with MCCToolChest PE. You download it, install, and run. If you get an error about some missing DLL, you may also need to install the VS 2015 C++ Runtime. Once running, do the following in MCC ToolChest - PE:

  1. Select "File | Open" and choose the Bedrock world you want to convert. It should read in, and you'll see "level.dat", "players", etc. listed on the left. If you don't see the world you want to convert, you'll need to (somehow) get it to your PC and find its path via "File | Open" and "Select Folder."
  2. Select "Tools | Convert -> To Java." A large dialog box appears.
  3. For the "Minecraft Java world folder" at the top put a path where you want to create the converted world. For example, I might use "C:\Users\erich\AppData\Roaming\.minecraft\saves\bedrock_test\" - my user name is "erich" and the world directory name I want for the converted world is "bedrock_test." By putting the path "...\AppData\Roaming\.minecraft\saves\..." I am putting the converted world in the default directory for Minecraft Java worlds, which means it will then show up in Mineways' list of worlds automatically.
  4. Halfway down on the left of the dialog look for "Convert into." Change this from "Empty Dimension" to "Empty World."
  5. Click "Convert" at the bottom of the dialog. Cross fingers.
If there were no errors, great, and you should see your converted world in your saves directory, and Mineways can then convert it. In Mineways you should look for the directory name of the world on the right-hand side of the "File | Open World" list of worlds.

If you did get some error, try the "Help" button, it might actually help. I found not setting "Convert into" properly or not giving a good directory path can give errors.

If you need more help, this older site might help (sadly, the new site does not have any tutorial as of this writing).

Note that this tool can also convert from Java to Bedrock, if that's of interest. This video goes through the steps for that process.

Structure Block Export

You can also export 3D data from (only) the Bedrock Edition directly to a 3D model file format, the glTF binary format. Give yourself a structure block in Minecraft by typing the command "/give @s structure_block". Place this block near the area you want to export, then right-click it. A dialog comes up in which you can specify the size of the export (never larger than 32x32x32, even if you set it higher), the offset, and the file name to export to, along with some other options. This file can then be viewed by the built-in Paint 3D program and be converted and loaded by many other programs in the glTF ecosystem.

Keyboard Shortcut Keys

The quick reference of handy shortcuts is here, with the full list here. Most operations in Mineways can be done with the mouse: left button drag and mouse wheel for viewing, middle mouse click for setting the depth to whatever is at that location, right mouse selects a region to export. If you don't have a right mouse button, hold Control down and use the left mouse button. Instead of using the height sliders at the top, using the mousewheel with the Control key down changes the depth, with Shift down changes the max. height (this second mode can be slow, since the map is regenerated). More on mouse controls in the Selection section.