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Infrastructure for solid modeling.
Homepage | API Examples | Downloads

libfive is a framework for solid modeling using functional representations.

It includes several layers, ranging from infrastructure to GUI:

  • The libfive shared library contains functions to build, manipulate, and render f-reps. A great deal of work has gone into the meshing algorithm, which produces watertight, manifold, hierarchical, feature-preserving triangle meshes. The library is written in C++ and exposes a C API in libfive.h.
  • The libfive standard library is a library of common shapes, transforms, and CSG operations. It is implemented in C++ and exposes a C API in libfive/stdlib/stdlib.h
  • The standard library is parsed and used to generate bindings for both Guile Scheme and Python, for use in the REPL or as part of larger applications.
  • Studio is a GUI application in the style of OpenSCAD. It uses the Python and Guile bindings and allows for live-coding of solid models. The interface also includes direct modeling, where the user can push and pull on the model's surface to change variables in the script.

Other projects using libfive

Language bindings




For libfive-specific discussions, consider opening a topic in the Github Discussions tab.

There's also a libfive subforum in the SDF User Group Discourse, which is a good place for general discussion of modeling with signed distance fields.


(c) 2015-2021 Matthew Keeter

Different layers of this project are released under different licenses:

Contact the author to discuss custom development, integration, or commercial support.

Compiling from source

libfive and Studio are compatible with macOS, Linux, and Windows.



Guile bindings (optional, macOS and Linux only)

Python bindings (optional)

Studio (optional, requires Guile or Python bindings)

When cmake is first run, it will check for all dependencies and print details of what will be build, e.g.

Checking dependencies:
  libfive:              ✓
  Guile bindings:       ✓
  Python bindings:      ✓
  Studio:               ✓   (Python + Guile)


With homebrew installed, run

brew install cmake pkg-config eigen libpng boost guile python3 qt

Omit guile, python3, or qt to avoid building bindings and/or the UI.

Then, from the libfive folder, run something like:

mkdir build
cd build
cmake -DCMAKE_PREFIX_PATH=/usr/local/Cellar/qt5/5.12.0  ..

(adjust based on your Qt installation, and consider using ninja for faster builds.


libfive should build out of the box on the latest Ubuntu LTS (currently 20.04). If you find that's not the case, please open an issue!

Start by installing dependencies through the package manager:

sudo apt-get install cmake pkg-config libeigen3-dev libpng-dev libboost-all-dev guile-3.0-dev qtbase5-dev python3

Omit guile-3.0-dev and/or qtbase5-dev if you do not want Guile bindings and/or Studio to be built too.

Building is similar as on Mac: clone the repository, then run something like

mkdir build
cd build
cmake ..
make -j4

Once building is complete, run Studio with ./studio/Studio.

Running sudo make install will install components to system-wide destinations, e.g. /usr/local/bin/Studio for the main executable. This will let you invoke Studio from anywhere in the system, rather than just the build directory. If you are using this workflow, sudo make install must be run after changes to the repository to update the system-wide installation of the executable and libraries. Studio.desktop may be used to put a shortcut on your desktop.

If you don't want the Python bindings installed under /usr/lib, you can specify the install directory using the cmake variable PYTHON_SITE_PACKAGES_DIR, e.g.

cmake -DPYTHON_SITE_PACKAGES_DIR=/usr/local/lib/python3.9/dist-packages .

Ubuntu releases before 20.04 are not officially supported; if you insist, there are hints here and a discussion of Python linking issues here.

Windows (VS2019)

Install Git, choosing settings so that it can be invoked from a Windows Command Prompt (the defaults should be fine).

Install VS2019 (Community Edition), configured for "Desktop development with C++". You only need MSVC, Windows 10 SDK, and C++ CMake tools for Windows, so feel free to uncheck other optional packages in the right sidebar, then run the installation!

Next, install dependencies using vcpkg.

(This step touches many files, so you may want to disable the Antimalware Service Executable, which will otherwise scan every single file and slow things down dramatically: in "Windows Security → Virus & threat protection settings", uncheck "Real-time protection".)

In a Windows Command Prompt:

git.exe clone
cd libfive
git clone
.\vcpkg\vcpkg.exe install --triplet x64-windows eigen3 boost-container boost-bimap boost-interval boost-lockfree boost-functional boost-algorithm boost-math libpng qt5-base python3

Go get some coffee or something - this will take a while.

Once this is done installing, you're ready to actually build libfive and Studio!

mkdir build
cd build
"C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2019\Community\Common7\IDE\CommonExtensions\Microsoft\CMake\CMake\bin\cmake.exe" -DCMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE="..\vcpkg\scripts\buildsystems\vcpkg.cmake" -DVCPKG_TARGET_TRIPLET="x64-windows" -G"Visual Studio 16 2019" ..
"C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2019\Community\Common7\IDE\CommonExtensions\Microsoft\CMake\CMake\bin\cmake.exe" --build . --config Release --target Studio -- -v:n -m:8

At this point, you can also double-click on Studio.exe to launch it, and create a shortcut to put it on your desktop.

(don't move it out of the build directory, or the precarious house of cards that finds Python will come tumbling down)

When changes are made, you should only need to re-run the build step, i.e.

"C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2019\Community\Common7\IDE\CommonExtensions\Microsoft\CMake\CMake\bin\cmake.exe" --build . --config Release --target Studio -- -v:n -m:8