How to use Microsoft's Paint 3D: Creating cool 3D scenes has never been so much fun

Take it from someone who can barely draw a stickman: You can totally do this.



Microsoft’s 3D cheat sheet: Remix 3D

Learning how to orient, resize, and paint 3D objects within Paint 3D is essential. But Microsoft also provides a massive storehouse of pre-rendered 3D art on its community site, Remix 3D, to populate your scene without spending the time to create your own objects. Once you’re done creating a 3D object or scene, you can share it on Remix 3D, of course.

paint3d treasure chest Microsoft

No, you can’t make this in Paint 3D, as this chest was created in Maya by Microsoft. But you can still add it to your scene, and digital artists may be able to upload their own professional art later as part of the Khronos Foundation’s glTF format.

In the upper-right corner of the Paint 3D app is the Remix 3D icon (which looks rather like the Share icon in Office). Click it, and a sidebar opens, opening the Remix 3D doors. Remix 3D provides a virtual Board for bookmarking objects you might want to reuse, but the most useful feature is right at the top: a search box, where you can search for items like “pine tree” or “treasure chest.” There’s quite a lot to choose from.

paint 3d remix 3d build a bot IDG / Mark Hachman

Microsoft’s Remix 3D Web interface is unnecessarily confusing and should be avoided. Just use the in-app sidebar instead. 

Each object has a Download icon under it, which will open the object inside Paint 3D, or you can save it to your Board.

Don’t go hog-wild, though. What Microsoft doesn’t tell you is that each 3D Paint scene has an upper file-size limit: 64MB at this writing—and it might have increased from 48MB as I was working with the program. Most of the custom art inside Remix 3D is made with professional 3D modeling tools, so not surprisingly each object can quickly consume your file allotment. Just one robot head in Microsoft’s “build-a-bot” collection required 14MB.

paint 3d file limit IDG / Mark Hachman

At no point does Microsoft’s Paint 3D reveal that there’s a file-size limit to what you can upload or save... until here.

Go above that limit, and Microsoft may prevent you from uploading your creations to Remix 3D. I also found I couldn’t even save my creations locally—and with no explanation. I’m chalking this up to Paint 3D’s preview status, but it’s still a problem that needs fixing.

Paint 3D allows you to upload your creations to Remix 3D, but you can also save them within the app or even export them. You may want to do that because Paint 3D’s in-app viewer currently stinks, distorting your creations awkwardly. Insiders also have a second app within Windows, a bare-bones 3D viewer known as View 3D, which neatly solves this problem.

Paint 3D’s to-do list

3D Paint has some work to do. You might recall that part of Microsoft’s original announcement of Paint 3D involved scanning real-world objects via a Windows Capture 3D app supposedly being developed for Windows 10 phones. Microsoft says that component is scheduled for a future release. Likewise, Microsoft hasn’t apparently included its Magic Select tool, which lets you strip the background from an image for superior Stickers. Eventually, the Creators Update will allow you to view these objects with Microsoft’s HoloLens, too. 

Microsoft Paint 3D desert island IDG / Mark Hachman

Apply what you’ve learned (and steal a bit from Remix 3D) and you’ll have cool-looking scenes like this in no time!

There are other issues. Simply sitting idle, with just a big fuzzy cloud and some 3D text, Paint 3D consumed up to 16.6 percent of the CPU power of my Surface Pro 4. Larger scenes can require over a gigabyte of RAM. Microsoft Edge (which Microsoft opens by default to display the Remix 3D site) gobbled up 20.2 percent of my CPU. Paint 3D really should have features to deform and alter 3D objects, but they’ll undoubtedly consume even more of your PC’s resources. 

Make no mistake about it, though: Paint 3D is a lot of fun, more than I ever thought it would be. Simply by getting creative with features like the 3D Doodle and Stickers, I was able to create a simple scene that I was rather proud of. How did I do it? I’ll walk you through it in the attached video.

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Mark Hachman

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
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