If you’ve yet to get your CAD jabbers on SelfCAD, you can spin it up and start modeling in less time than it takes to juice a pack navel oranges with your elbows at your co-worker’s desk–Tis a fact.

SelfCAD is the web-based modeling/sculpting/3D printing tool that works in all modern browsers and on Windows, Linux, or Mac. Last time I looked at it, they were just getting started. Now, they’re on SelfCAD 2.0 with more sculpting brushes, modeling tools, and all-new selection modes.

They’ve also started releasing content daily to help you better understand SelfCAD, the tools, and the crazy-simple user interface. Over Christmas, they released a series of videos showing how to create various low-poly models and just published another featuring the new Selection Modes, which we’ll take a look at below.

How To Use SelfCAD Selection Modes to Create Unique Low-Poly Designs

YouTube video

It’s not the prettiest shoe but does show the various selection modes in SelfCAD.

Creating a low-poly object can be a quick, fun, little exercise to churn out basic concepts or create a wee bit of interest in a 3D print. Do a search for ‘low-poly’ on Thingiverse or MyMiniFactory and you’ll find all sorts of cool ideas–some practical, others completely useless, but all relatively easy to create.

Here’s the approach you would use in SelfCAD to generate a similar low-poly design quickly and have everyone ask, “How’d you do that?”

Add Your Segments (Subdivisions)

SelfCAD - Adding Segments (Subdivisions)

SelfCAD has a pretty slick approach to splitting up your solid model into segments, or what is often called subdivisions in subdivision surface modeling.

After adding a 3D shape, you’ll see a set of sliders in the left sidebar to add various width/height/depth segments (or faces). Adding more segments, creates more divisions, and each division is made up of edges and vertices. The more edges and vertices, the greater number of selections you have available to modify the shape, and the greater amount of detail you can add to the shape.

Select and Modify Faces/Polygons

With the segments visible, you can now start to modify your shape using the available selection tools. In the right sidebar, you’ll see an illustration that acts as both a guide and the selection tool.

Click Polygon to select an entire polygonal surface and all of its contained segments/faces. Hover over the Polygon label to show a toggle for Face selection and then select Face to select any number of faces. Jump up to your Tools menu to Extrude the selected faces.

Select and Modify Vertices

Next, there’s the Vertex Selection Mode. Click Vertex in the sidebar illustration to activate vertex selection. Pick or box-select any number of vertices and select Move from the menu to adjust their location.

Select and Modify Edges

Finally, you have Edge Selection Mode. Click Edge in the sidebar illustration to activate edge selection. Select your edges to drag, move and adjust as needed.

More Selection Tool Options

With any selection tool you use, there are additional options available when you click the gear icon in the upper right corner of the Selection Tool sidebar. Polygon options include a Tolerance setting, Face and Edge options include Loop selection and Custom Pattern, and all include options for Select/Deselect All. You also have Selection Tools to marquee select, reverse selection, or select using a cube, which allows you to subdivide shapes further.

Want to see it in action? Here’s a video that breaks down all the selection options available in SelfCAD.

All about SelfCAD Selection Modes.

Is SelfCAD Parametrtic?

Low-poly modeling is one thing, but what about modeling a part where you need to make changes or add variations? Simply put, is SelfCAD parametric? Can you change/update the geometry you create? Though you can modify the 3D geometry you create using SelfCAD’s Move, Scale, Sculpting, Deform and other tools, you can’t go back and edit the properties of a 3D shape or add dimensions that control the location of features.

In this regard, SelfCAD is NOT parametric. This may throw you for a loop if you’re use to modeling in SOLIDWORKS, Fusion 360, or Onshape, but it’s this approach that makes the SelfCAD UI, workflow, and modeling process very easy.

That said, I wouldn’t mind at all being able to right-click an object and add subdivisions or change a few previously entered settings, double-click to adjust a dimension, or rollback a feature/step, update, and roll-forward. If this is coming, I have no doubt, SelfCAD will have a novel approach to match their workflow.

SelfCAD is producing daily videos on their YouTube channel showing how to use different features and create various designs. Use SelfCAD yourself? We’d love to see what you create!

Lead image: 3D Printed low-poly planter by OmNomNomagon, Thingiverse.


Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.