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3D Thumbnails Bring Our Virtual Catalog to Life

August 11, 2014

by Merely

See angles of your avatar you never could before, right from our website!

See angles of your avatar you never could before, right from!

You’ve no doubt noticed the “Enable 3D” button perched next to your favorite hats, gear and packages when you visit the pages of catalog items. Starting today, we’ve enabled the 3D view for shirts and pants as well, giving you the ability to view clothing from any angle before you buy it (or decide not to because of what’s on the back). Using the Rendering team’s OBJ Exporter as a foundation, we were able to roll out this feature and make it possible for you to take a 360-degree look at hats, gear, packages, heads, clothing, and characters on

Right now, 3D thumbnails are supported by most modern browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer. If you’re using an older version of a browser (such as Internet Explorer 10), you will need to upgrade to the latest version to view 3D thumbnails. The average mobile device doesn’t support WebGL (the technology that makes 3D possible in browsers) yet. If you have an iPhone or iPad, expect to start seeing 3D thumbnails later this year when iOS 8 is released. If WebGL isn’t supported on your device, the “Enable 3D” button will be hidden.


You can control the camera on assets with 3D web views by clicking and holding the left mouse button, then dragging your mouse. You can also zoom in or out by hovering your cursor over the 3D thumbnail and scrolling your mouse wheel up or down. If you release the left mouse button, the camera will transition back to its default position.

Many feats of engineering have taken place here at ROBLOX because someone asked, “what if?” Over a year ago, ostrichSized worked on 3D thumbnails as a Hack Week project. When he told me about the idea, I prototyped a Chrome extension that rendered hats and gear in 3D. When I returned this summer for my second year as an intern on the Web team, all the pieces were in place to implement this as an official website feature. Eventually, the 3D view will be the default.

We’re thrilled to see thumbnail images come to life — let us know what you think!