3D models, Wings 3D tutorial update

Some time ago, Mircheus posted a very comprehensive tutorial video showing how to create a nice 3D model for a QFP package (in 11 minutes).

However, it was a little difficult to tell what UI moves he made at each step, especially since Wings3D has an unusual right-click menu paradigm where sub-items are selected with different mouse buttons instead of with normal sub-menus. So you’d have to watch in extreme slo-mo to follow what was going on.

Now I’ve posted a step-by-step annotation of the UI moves, so you can follow along exactly with the video quite rapidly, and get up-to-speed quickly.


At the end of the exercise, you will still need to export the model as VRML (wrl), and then use KiCad Footprint editor > Properties > 3D settings to associate this 3D model with a component. A component that works with this model is Xilinx XCR3064-VQ44 in the supplied Xilinx. (Might want to copy it to your own library for experimenting.)

Anyhow, I hope this encourages folks who might be interested to have a try at 3D models with much quicker learning curve.



Parametric 3D modeling in FreeCad is reallly the way to go now, with the ability we now have for cooperation with mechanical CAD and alignment of models though StepUp. In the latest nightly (pre-ver. 5), FreeCad and not Wings3D is listed on the final completion screen of the installer. All the new 3D models in the official KiCad Library are now built with parametric 3D modeling. StepUp will export both .step and wrl models from the same edit in FreeCad.


So if you have been away from the KiCad forum lately or recently signed up, you have some catch-up to do.

Otoien, I appreciate your advice.

Apparently as a newish user one is supposed to know that the official stable version is obsolete? And that the current docs are a dead end?

I would greatly appreciate if you would point to actual docs on the FreeCad/STEP etc way of doing things?

Or is the recommended course to read the entire forum in hopes of gleaning what’s going on, both in terms of the 3D stuff, and also with regard to how stable and usable the nightlies are?

I am happy that a better way is in progress. Rather frustrated at the utter waste of time this has caused.


@gwideman, StepUp is working with both the nightly and the stable ver. 4.07. If you want to export your board into FreeCad you need to use SteUp import to do that. The nightly can natively export Step models to FreeCad, but I usually prefer to use SteUp’s import in FreeCad. In both cases .step models models are required for step export of the board, but does not need to be referenced as long as the step model file name is the same as the .Wrl model and scaled properly (both typically exported from FreeCad with StepUp).

StepUp comes with its own documentation. @Maui has done a really great job creating this tool. In the development version of FreeCad (v.17) it installs as workbench simply by using the Addon Manager under Tools. Freecad can have a learning curve to begin with, but Wings3D was rather confusing to me and I never really got into it. I think you will discover that the effort put into FreeCad is highly rewarding.

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Thanks again for your comments.

At the moment, I’m just trying to work on some component 3D models. Not interested in exporting the populated board to FreeCad. So now I’m confused on numerous points.

I did see the StepUp docs here: :

… but from that I don’t understand what role StepUp plays in just creating 3D component data that KiCad can use for displaying in KiCad’s 3D viewer.

@gwideman, StepUp supports transferring the information in both directions. If you take a look at the first model in this post, 3D Raytracing with transparent enclosures (second image from top), the small boards for the buttons and the rotary encoder were separate KiCad projects that were exported as boards, assembled to a single 3D model, and exported as a 3D model for a footprint. That is part of the fun with StepUp and FeeCad. An other benefit is the ability to design complicated board edges in a parametric way.

Steup does not create the model, it helps with the alignment and scaling of the model you created with FreeCad or imported into FreeCad to the footprint. It is well explained in the StepUp documentation.

Once again, thanks otoien for your comments. If by “StepUp documentation” you mean https://sourceforge.net/p/kicadstepup/wiki/Home/, then I don’t find it well explained at all.

However, I found this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COUdDZAhbHc, which does a great job explaining the point of the tool and the workflow.

Sorry about the documentation. As users we are putting together our own FAQ because we know what the most asked questions are. Mostly we wanted something we could quickly point people to. @Maui has some excellent posts here and I believe is putting together something for the FAQ but hasn’t finished it yet.

Hi @gwideman
sorry for being late here… and thanks to @otoien and @hermit for posting here …

I would suggest you to have a look at the new 3D library for Kicad… it has an interesting readme file about the new requirements for a 3D model to be included in the library itself.
You will find there is also a huge 3D library here (with a lot of room for new contributions)

An other useful post it would be the kicad stepup cheatsheet
and here the pdf file kicadStepUp-cheat-sheet.pdf

I’m sorry you have spent time on Wings3D which is no more suggested for 3D modeling for Kicad… it has been since my first release of StepUp (more than 2 and half years ago) that I suggested to at least add FreeCAD as a suggestion for a 3d modeler beside Wings3D; luckily at least for nightly FreeCad and not Wings3D is listed on the final completion screen of the installer.

I watched your tutorial and I found it very well made… may be you could get a chance to do something similar also for FreeCAd or even StepUp :wink:

@hermit I’m starting to write something to be used for the FAQ. I’ll keep you updated.

Happy holidays to all :smiley:


@gwideman, the documentation I referred is installed with STEPUP on your computer. It is supposed to be launched from StepUp’s help screen, however I found the link on my computer was broken so it did not launch from the link; it was listed as:
but I found it in
There are also links in the help screen to some videos that seem to work, perhaps those are the ones you found. There is a link to some FreeCad scripts for generating models that I have not looked into.