3D Printed Simple Animals

Introduce 3D Printing Design by Creating Simple 3D Printed Animals

This youth friendly lesson shows how to create a simple standing 3D Animal. These 3d printed animals were inspired by “makerEunny” on Tinkercad and Facebook.

Supplies Needed

  • Tinkercad Account
  • Computer with internet access
  • 3D Printer and Slicing Software
  • Writing utensil (for sketching ideas)
  • Paint (optional)

Build Video

Build Directions: How to Make a 3D Printed Animal in Tinkercad

3d printed animals step 1 change the snap grid in tinkercad to 1/8in

Step 1: Sketch an Animal and Edit Grid

Pick an animal and think about how it would look flat. How would it look it you only use basic shapes? Sketch it out if you need to. Open up Tinkercad, create new project, and change your grid to inches. Click Edit Grid and then change the default unit from millimeters to inches and set it to 1/8 in.

3d printed animals step 2 simple animal shapes in tinkercad

Step 2: Build Your Animal’s Body

Build your animal’s body and head using simple shapes like squares and circles. They should only come up 1/8th of an inch (0.125″).

3d printed animals step 3 tinkercad closeup

Step 3: Create Holes For Legs

Do not add legs yet. Instead add rectangle-shaped holes so that you can slot in legs and make it stand up. This is how we change flat shapes into 3D!

3d printed animals step 4 tinkercad shape view from above

Step 4: Make a Hole For Your Animal’s Leg

Copy the rectangle holes that you used on the animal’s body onto the middle of a new rectangle. Next, make the hole slightly bigger (about .03”). This will become one of the animal’s legs. Make sure to group this.

3d printed animals step 5 tinkercad view after copying legs

Step 5: Complete Animal’s Leg

Although the leg will will fit the animal’s body now, it will just look like a rectangle under the animal. You can add another hole to separate the rectangle into two legs. You can also add feet or hooves or whatever you want! Just remember to keep it flat. If both holes on your animal’s body are the same size, you can simply “duplicate” this set of legs to complete the set.

3d printed animals step 6 tinkercad workplane with animal legs and body

Step 6: 3D Print

Double check before you print:

  • All of your pieces are no thicker than 1/8”.
  • You used the same hole to create your slots on the legs and main body of the animal.
  • Everything is grouped together.

You are done! It’s good practice to rename your project (typically with your name and a brief description). Our prints were approximately 2” wide and took about 25-30 min to print.

3d printed animals 3d printed animal

Step 7: Final Touches

Paint (optional), assemble, and show off your new animal!

Discussion Questions

Additionally, here are some suggestions to guide a discussion after completing the activity.

What is the difference between a 2D shape and a 3D shape?

  • 2D shapes are comprised of connected lines.
  • X & Y axis
  • 3D shapes are defined as having depth
  • X, Y & Z axis

What is tolerance?
Tolerance is important to consider when pieces or parts fit together. If the holes were exactly the same size, it would be more difficult to slide the legs onto the body. By creating a little wiggle room, we can easily attach the legs to the main body.

What do you think profile means?
When we say “in profile” we’re thinking an outline. In the image below we see the profiles of 4 individuals. We can tell that all of the profiles resemble women. When thinking of your design, how can someone tell what animal it is?

profile silhouettes black and white

Next Steps

What ways can you think of to customize this project? For the llama, we only had legs that slid in but you could do something similar with horns or ears or a tail! Beyond this project, having the skill to turn 2D to 3D and back again gives you many creative possibilities.

Show us your 3d printed animals! Tweet the hashtag #DHFMakes

3D printing workshop linked

Interested in learning how to 3D Print? Register for DHF’s 3D Printing workshop for Educators!


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