How to Model a Low-Poly Train in Blender

The following tutorial will be a demonstration of how to create a simple train in 3D modelling software Blender. The finished result will look like the image below:

Getting Started

Cube displayed in centre when a new file is created in Blender
Start-up File

You will want to begin by opening blender and creating a new file with the basic cube in the centre of the grid. We don’t need delete this cube however, as we can use it for the base of the train. Before going any further, it is important to ensure you are in Orthographic view, which is entered by pressing 5 on the number pad. This is to ensure that the objects you are working on do not appear to become smaller when they are further away, which can misguide your scales and proportions.

You can tell which view mode you're in by checking the top left corner of the modelling/view port window as seen below.
View mode displayed in top left corner
Orthographic View

Rectangular Base of Train
Base of Train Model

Press 1 on the number pad to go into the Front View mode, and scale down the cube on the Z axis by pressing S then Z, and scaling it to 0.2 units. Now scale up on the X axis by pressing S then X, and setting it to 3 units

Cylinder Placed at Front of Base for Engine
Train Engine

Now press Shift+A and add a cylinder from the Meshes tab. Use R+Y to rotate the cylinder on the Y axis and turn it 90 degrees. This will be the main body of the train, so scale it up on the X axis and place it appropriately so that it covers approximately the same amount (4 units) of the base.

Cube Used For The Cabin
Cabin Cube

Now press Shift+A again and this time select a cube from the Meshes tab so that we can make the cabin. Press S then Z, and set it to 1.5 on the Z axis. Place the mesh directly behind the cylinder on top of the base.

Using Edit Mode

Edit Mode in Blender is used to make changes to an object or model's shape and appearance. There are many tools available in Edit Mode and you can access it by either pressing Tab, or by selecting it from the Mode dropdown in the bottom left corner of the view port, as shown below. Before entering Edit Mode, you should have the object you're working on selected first.

Edit Mode, Located in the Bottom Left Corner Beside "Object" Panel
How to Enter Edit Mode

Cabin Roof

Plane Placed on Top of Cabin
Plane Used for the Cabin Roof

Now press Shift+A and add a plane from the meshes tab; for the roof of the cabin. S to scale the plane on all axes and key in 1.25 units. With the plane still selected, hit Tab to go into Edit Mode and go to the Front View by pressing 1 on the number pad like earlier on.

Extruding the Roof on the Z Axis
Extruding the Cabin Roof

Press E while still in Edit Mode to extrude the plane along the Z axis, setting it at 0.1 units and clicking to confirm. Repeat this process 3 or 4 times.

Scaling Down the Extrusions on the Cabin Roof
Scaling Down the Extrusions

Once you are on the last one, press S to scale it after you have confirmed the extrusion. Carefully scale it down until the edges are angled under roughly 45 degrees from the edges at the base of that extrusion. Next, drag it down on the Z axis very slightly. Repeat this on each of the consecutive extrusions by selecting their vertices (4 at a time), scaling them down, and then dragging their faces down slightly on the Z axis. Make sure that when selecting an Edge, Vertex, or Face that you have first selected the corresponding tool. This step step helps to make the roof look a bit more realistic and not entirely flat.

Cabin Interior

Using the Inset Tool to Create a New Face on the Cabin
Using an Inset on the Rear of the Cabin

Next, we're going to create an interior on the cabin in Edit Mode so that it is not just a flat block. We start by pressing 3 to enter the Right Ortho view. Select the face on the back of the cabin shown above, and press I to give the face an inset, and set the value to 0.115 units. 

Dragging the Inset Face Down on the Z Axis to Make it Flush
Getting the New Face Flush With the Base

Now we need to get the two edges highlighted above to be flush with the base of the cabin. To do this, simply select the Z axis of the inset face with the cursor after confirming your inset value, and drag it down until its level with the base.

Extruding the Cabin Inwards to Create an Interior
Extruding the Cabin Inwards

Now we're going to extrude that same face inwards by pressing E and setting the value as -1.885 units and hitting Enter to confirm. This value is given so that the cabin maintains the same thickness on all sides when the interior is created. The next stage is to add windows so that the train driver isn't obsolete.


For the windows, we need to briefly go back to Object Mode by hitting Tab. Now we need to add a cube by pressing Shift+A, then scale it with S and hitting Enter with a value of 0.25 units for the X and Z axes, and 1.25 units for the Y axis. You should end up with the shape below if you use these measurements. However, don't move this shape after creating it as we are going to input the values for its position in the scene by pressing G.

Cube Stretched on Y Axis  for Creating Windows in the Cabin
Object Used for Cutting Out Window Shape

Once you hit G, press Z to select that axis, and input a value of 2.5 units. Press G again, but this time hit X for that axis instead and input a value of 1.5 units. Now we're going to duplicate this object by pressing Shift+D and clicking to confirm. Without moving the duplicate of the first object, press G, then X and a value of 1.0 unit(s). You should now have two elongated blocks going through both sides of the cabin as seen below.

Cubes Used for Cutting out Windows for the Cabin
Objects Placed Where You Want the Windows to Be

Now we need to go to the properties section on the right hand side and add a Boolean Modifier whilst selection is set to the cube that was used to make the cabin. 

Going to the Modifiers Tab and Selecting Boolean
Modifiers Tab

Applying the Difference Modifier to the Windows
Cutting out the Windows
We need to select the Difference modifier from the dropdown, and choose one of the cubes used for the windows as the target object. Click Apply, then select both blocks and delete them with X and you should see symmetrical windows where the objects were beforehand, as seen below.

After Applying the Modifier for Both Windows
Completed Cabin Windows


Now were going to select the large cylinder mesh in front of the cabin and hit Tab to go back into edit mode. In this example I had the Cap Fill Type of the cylinder set to Triangle Fan, but if yours is set to Ngon there shouldn't be any issues. We start by going to Left Ortho view by pressing 3 followed by 9 on the number pad. Using Face Select, click the face at the front of the cylinder, press E and then Enter/click to confirm. Now hit S to scale down that extrusion slightly (it doesn't need to be exact, you just need a new face smaller than the original) and you should have something that looks like this:

Scaling Down the Extrusion on the Engine Face
Extruding and Scaling the Engine Face

Once that's done, we need to extrude with E again, click to confirm, and then press 7 to go to the top-down view. Now make 2 small extrusions with a value of 0.1 unit(s) each, coming out from the face of the cylinder. Extrude again but without giving it a value this time (E) and confirm (click). The next step is to use S and scale up the flat extrusion until it has approximately the same radius as the main engine cylinder.

Additional Extrusions Made on the Front Face of the Engine
Additional Extrusions

Now press E to extrude again; but give it a value of 0.4 units this time, and click to confirm.
With the new extrusion still selected, press S to scale it down until you almost have a small point at the end, as shown in the image below.

Scaling Down the Final Extrusion on the Engine Head
Scaling Down the Last Extrusion

With the small face on the 'point' still selected, we need to drag it back slightly on the X axis towards the rest of the train and we should end up with something that looks like this:

Image of the Finished Engine Head
Finished Engine Head

For the last part of the engine; the chimney/smokestack, we're going to create another cylinder with Shift+A and select its mesh. Scale it down with S and input a value of 0.4 units. Next, use R then 90 to rotate it 90 degrees, then press S and then Z, and input a value of 3 units. Drag the cylinder along the X and Z axes until you have it lined up near the front of the train like so:

Adding a Smokestack to the Engine Cylinder
Adding a Smokestack to the Engine

Selecting the Top Face of The Smokestack in Edit Mode
Editing the Top Face of the Smokestack

Now we're going to go into edit mode and use Face Select to edit the face on top of the chimney. We'll use E to extrude (no value) and click to confirm. 

Now press S to scale down the face until the chimney has a thickness that you are happy with and extrude that face down to the bottom of the cylinder on the Z axis. You'll end up with the chimney looking as it does in the below image, and that's it for the engine/front of the train. 

Extruding the New Face Down on the Z Axis to Make the Smokestack Hollow
Extruding the New Face Down on the Z Axis 


The wheels of the train are very straightforward to create. We need to press Shift+A and add a cylinder, press R then X to rotate it on the X axis, with an input value of 90 degrees. Scale the cylinder down with S to 0.5 units overall, and then to 0.15 units on the Y axis. Now we have to move the wheel along the X axis; so press G then X, and input a value of 2.25 units. Now press Shift+D to duplicate the wheel, and G then X again, this time setting the value as -4.5 units. 

Adding Wheels to the Train Model
Adding Wheels to the Train

Now, with both wheels selected by holding down Shift and clicking on both of them, press G and then Y, setting the value at 1.1 units so that the wheels are now flush with the side of the train. Press Shift+D with both wheels still selected to make a duplicate set. Now, with the duplicate set of wheels selected, press G then Y to grab them on the Y axis, and input a value of -2.2 units to make that set flush with the opposite side of the train.

Positioning the Wheels to be Flush on Both Sides of the Train
Positioning the Wheels on Either Side

Adding a Mechanism to the Wheels
Wheel Mechanism
The final detail that we need to add to the train is the machanism for the wheels, so we're going to use Shift+A to add a cube, scale it down on the Z axis with S and then Z with a value of 0.05 units, and do the same on the Y axis too. For the X axis however, use S then X and set the value to 2.5 units. Once thats done, we grab the object on the Y axis by pressing G and Y, and give it a value of 1.25 units to make it sit nicely on the side of the the wheels. Shift+D to duplicate the mechanism, then grab it on the Y axis again and set the value to -2.5, so that its the same on both sets of wheels. Finally, we select both mechanisms by holding down Shift and clicking on both of them, and press R then Y to rotate the mechanisms on the Y axis, giving the rotation a value of 3 degrees, and we're done! 

You can now add materials and textures to the train to give it the look and feel that you want.

You can also watch a video tutorial explaining how to make this train step by step, which you can find here:

How to Model a Low-Poly Train in Blender How to Model a Low-Poly Train in Blender Reviewed by James Murphy on January 31, 2019 Rating: 5

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