Sculpt GL

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This guide covers some basic functions of the free online 3D modelling software SculptGL found here:

SculptGL is an online sculpt-based 3D modeling software. As opposed to TinkerCad, this program can produce organic, naturalistic, and freeform shapes. SculptGL is a free version of industry standard programs such as ZBrush which are used for applications such as animation, game design, and fashion design.

Generate a shape

3D sculpting begins with sculpting onto a simple mass of digital clay. Though it may look simple, you can create complex shapes and models from this starting point.

SculptGL will open with a sphere of clay. If you want a different shape, Go to “Scene” → “Clear Scene” and then, “Scene” → “Add SHAPE” where "shape" is the shape of your choosing. This will generate your chosen shape onto the workspace.  


SculptGL does NOT auto-save! Students must save their sculpture files to continue editing or for 3D printing.  

  • “Files” - “Save .sgl” will save a file that they can open in SculptGL to continue editing.  
  • “Files” - “Save .stl” will save an STL file that will be used to 3D print the object.  



hold the right mouse button down and move the mouse.  


use the middle mouse scroll wheel.  


hold down the middle mouse scroll button and move the mouse.  

Center the model

go up to “Camera” and click “Reset” or press the space bar.  

SculptGL has many different tools to choose from to edit the digital clay.

Sculpting & Painting Tools


Adds digital clay to your model. Think of it as grabbing a second handful of clay and sticking it to the original ball. Click the checkbox next to “Negative” to invert the tool and carve into the clay.  


Grabs the existing digital clay so you can pull it outward - good for dragging smaller details. Also good for making small adjustments to the overall shape.  


Very similar to drag but is better for large movements and pulling features further out.   


Creates ‘bubbles’ on the surface of the clay as if you were blowing air into a particular space.


Flattens out the surface. 


Smooths out the clay and removes detail.  


Creates a spiral effect on the surface of the model.


Carves into the clay similarly to inverting the brush tool but more precisely.  


Closes gaps and pinches areas together.  


In this program, you can paint directly onto your model and export that colored model file out for animations and still images. Students can use the Paint tool to make a digital plan for how they will color their 3D prints.  You may use the Export option or have students take screenshots their painted model to use as a guide during the decoration phase.

Note: using the Paint tool will not actually change the color of the 3D print. That is determined by the color filament you use,

Tool settings in SculptGL.

Tool Settings

SculptGL allows you to toggle symmetry on and off.


Changes the size of the tool. Filling up the bar will make the brush much larger as you can see from the orange brush preview when you move your mouse over the clay.  


Move the grey bar next to “Intensity”. Filling up the bar will make the tool much more noticeable. For example, a high intensity crease brush will give much more noticeable and deep creases than a low intensity setting.


mirrors the feature as you draw it onto the other side of the vertical midline.

Reference Images

In SculptGL, you can import an image as a reference. Here, a toad's skin is being sculpted and a reference image has been imported.

It is possible to bring in a reference image to help students recreate a texture or an overall shape. Working from a reference is a great tool that 3D designers often use. You can use a web browser search to find and save images. You can upload the image by going to “Background” - “Import”. Checking “Fill” will fill the entire background with the image. Unchecking this option will just load in an image in the center. Clicking “Reset” will clear the image.  


A dark shadow on your model deonotes part of it is masked.

You can find the "Masking" tool in the tool drop-down. Masking selects part of your model and makes it un-editable. It basically can protect parts of the surface so you do not accidentally deform it. This can also be very useful in projects where you want to create noticeable indents. For this example, you can draw a dinosaur foot print with the mask tool, and then inflate the area around it. The result is a dinosaur foot print fossil!

If you happen to see a dark shadow on your project or the whole piece has gone dark, click on “Masking” in the tool drop-down and then click on the button marked “Clear” to get rid of the mask.  You can also toggle "invert" to invert the mask selection and work on the opposite area.

Creating a dinosaur print in SculptGL. A mask was drawn in the shape of a Velociraptor's footprint. The mask was in inverted (masking everything except the print) to move only the print down into the digital clay giving it a sunken in effect. Next, the mask is inverted again to protect the print and the surrounding area is inflated, creased, and moved and the texture is added. Finally, the model is imported into TinkerCad for final additions.

Additional Resources

Interested in more STEAM Project-based Learning resources? TinkRworks K-8 supplemental curriculum makes it simple to add hands-on STEAM education to your school. Learn more:

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