What Is “Paint 3D,” and How Is It Used?

If you use Windows 10, you may have seen a strange app appear on your computer recently called “Paint 3D.” At a passing glance, it sounds similar to the ever-familiar Windows app Paint which has been a staple in each version of Windows. But what does the “3D” at the end entail? Is this just a revamped version of Paint, or is it something else entirely?

What Paint 3D Is

Paint 3D was likely delivered to you via the Creator’s Update, a free bundle of features that Microsoft published for Windows 10. The update came with a lot of new features that helped the average user make content, including a basic tool in which they could create and edit 3D objects like the ones you see in video games. This is the niche Paint 3D filled.

If you’ve ever wanted to experiment in the world of 3D models, Paint 3D allows you to do that. It’s definitely not as proficient as other 3D tools such as Blender, which is akin to how Paint doesn’t match up to Photoshop in terms of complexity. If you’re an expert in the 3D field, you’ll want to continue using your tool of choice for 3D modelling. If you’d just like to experiment with 3D shapes and have some fun, however, Paint 3D will do the job just fine.

Should I Use It Like Paint?

People often use Paint for various basic image manipulation tasks such as cropping. As such, people may wonder if Paint 3D is an “upgraded version” to Paint, and if they should jump ship to Paint 3D for their basic image-manipulation jobs.

While Paint 3D is definitely more advanced than Paint, it’s more focused on rendering 3D objects. As such, if you’d like to crop a photo or change the size of a picture, you’ll be better off using Paint over Paint 3D. If you want more advanced software for cropping and editing photos, you might have better luck with free image tools such as GIMP or Paint.NET.

What Can Paint 3D Do?

But that’s enough of what Paint 3D can’t do; let’s instead look at the sort of things you can do with it.

Starting Paint 3D

When you open Paint 3D you can see that Microsoft has already created a few default toys you can play with. You can find them within “Up for a challenge?” which can show you what Paint 3D can do.


For example, when we used this feature, we could download and modify this great model of a grumpy-looking librarian.


If you decide to jump into Paint 3D with a fresh slate, you’ll see a white canvas very much like you’d see in Paint. Don’t be fooled, however! While the canvas is the main attraction in regular Paint, the main star of the show for Paint 3D are the 3D models themselves. As such, you may find yourself using Paint 3D’s canvas to draw a simple background or reference for your main attraction.

For this example, we’ll be using this underwater scene as a fun background. I’m not a great artist, but this will have to do!


Adding 3D Shapes

If you want to add 3D shapes to the scene, just click the “Objects” button at the top of the window.


On the right you’ll see a list of things you can use. For our example we want a fish in our underwater scene, so we’ll click the fish.


Now we’ll click in the scene to place our fish within it. Now that it’s in 3D space, we can make it bigger and smaller as well as rotate it around. Remember, you’re in 3D space now; while you can move shapes up, down, left, and right like in a regular paint program, 3D space also supports moving objects to the fore and back.


Using Stickers

This fish looks very plain and boring, doesn’t it? Let’s add stickers to cheer this one up. To do this, we click the “Stickers” button at the top.


On the right we click the face icon, then pick out a nice looking eye.


We click on the fish to place the eye, adjust it so it looks good, then click the stamp icon on the right. Once done, the sticker will be stamped onto the fish. The sticker tool stays active in case we want to paste multiple eyes. We don’t want to add more eyes right now, so we press ESC to exit the sticker tool.


After a few more stickers, we have a much happier-looking fish!


Using Doodles

If you can’t find the shape you’re looking for in the presets, you can always turn regular doodles into 3D. Back in the 3D Objects menu, you can choose to draw your 3D shape under “3D Doodles.” You may need to scroll down to see them.


The “Hard Doodle” tool draws straight lines between anchor points that you set by clicking, much like the pen tool in other drawing programs. When you click the starting anchor, Paint 3D turns your lines into a 3D shape. This is great for drawing something like a star, which naturally uses sharp angles and straight lines.

“Soft Doodle” allows you to draw free form and gives the finished shape a rounded look, like a cloud. We selected the soft doodle and gave the fish a crude jellyfish friend.


Paint 3D, Explained

Appearing on everyone’s Windows 10 computers with the Creator’s Update, Paint 3D shares a namesake with its older brother but not much else. Now you know what it does, how to use it, and how it’s used.

Have you had some fun in Paint 3D yet? Let us know below!

Simon Batt
Simon Batt

Simon Batt is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for cybersecurity.

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