Software, Sketchup

Submitted by reb on Wed, 02/01/2017 - 15:04




* This article is Royce E. Barber's tips on using the 3D modeling software Sketchup 2017. I will carefully ensure this is a simple bulleted list, not an Encyclopedia Entry. I'm a long-time casual user who is just now getting into the advanced features of Sketchup Pro. This article applies somewhat to all versions of Sketchup. This is not legal nor financial advice. I make nothing from this article. 

* Similar articles here at (Some may not yet be completed): zBrush Core Tips. Fusion360 Tips. Mudbox Tips. Photoshop Tips. Windows10 setup tips. 

* Sketchup IS: Rapid creation of blocky shapes, creation of some curved shapes, and an excelent community of extensions. Free, Education, and Business liscences available. Sketchup is slightly CAD-like in design. SketchupPro adds "SolidTools" which are very important erasing and merging functions.

* Sketchup is NOT: Organic clay-sculpting or place to render a realistic scene. A tool to free-form warp an object. There are some extensions to aid in adding a few organic-like tools and rendering. Sketchup is not great at importing and exporting, but the STL extension helps.  With numerious extensions and time-consuming experimentation, you can render a realistic human, but 3D-Coat or zBrushCore or Mudbox are vastly better suited to sculpting clay. Similar to Sketchup is Fusion360, which is more feature rich but harder to learn.




My Favorite Sketchup Extensions...

* Brighter3D Rendering (Install from Lockbox/Software). I paid for a lifetime-of-updates key. A simple and fast rendering extension. 

* Solid Inspector² by ThomThom. Fixes errors in a Solid (a watertight hollow object), so you can use SketchupPro's SolidTools erase toolbar. SolidTools Tip: Optionally ensure object has no super-short lines, by resizing object to be huge. 

* STL Import & Export. Tip: After exporting your Sketchup file to STL, open the file in Windows 3D Builder to fix errors, then save.

* Shapes Tool. By SketchUp. Adds many 3D shapes to the menu Draw>3DShapes.

* Bitmap to Mesh. Has no button, go to Draw menu, then MeshFromHeightmap. Must be BMP format. 

* CleanUp3 by ThomThom. Fixes errors in a model. 

* TT_Lib2 is a helper library, many plugins require.

* Bubble Skin

* Some of my favorite extensions are from ThomThom at

* Sketchup Extension Warehouse:



Extensions I Like but am not using at the moment...

* To be added.



General Sketchup Tips

* If your computer is fast and you do renders, enable "Use Maximum Texture Size". Window>Preferences>OpenGL. On the same page, if you have a dedicated graphics card, click "Graphics Card Details", to see what card is being used. If it's using the CPU instead of a dedicated graphics card, adjust it via NVIDIA Control Panel. This speeds up rendering, if your graphics card drivers are stable and updated.

* Disable extensions you're not currently using. Uninstall clutter to keep Sketchup conflict-free.

* Hide any object in your way: Highlight it, rightclick, click Hide. Then later click Edit, Unhide.

* The measuring tool can resize an object. Measure an object, then type in a new length and press enter. 

* The circle tool isn't circle, click the tool and type in 3 for example and press enter. Now it's a triangle tool. You decide how many sides it has. 

* To move an object in a specific direction, start moving it then tap an arrow key on your keyboard to lock in the desired axis. Up arrow is the blue axis, left arrow is the green axis, and right arrow is the red axis. Alternate method, use Shift while already alligned to an axis, to lock in that axis.

* Scale about the center of an object, by holding control while scaling.

* Don't use a laptop trackpad, it's lacking buttons. Your mouse needs 3 buttons: Left, Clicking Middle Wheel, and Right.

* Grouping and Components have similarities and differences. If you make changes to one instance of a component, all the other instances of that component change as well, unless one of the copies is set to "Make Unique". Components can be set to always face the camera. Components can be magnetized/suctioned (aka "glued") to a face, so they can be slid around the face but not moved away from the face. A glued component will rotate with the object it's glued to. You may also "Hide Rest of Model", and "Hide Similar Components". If a object you edit often is inside another object, make a component copy away from the model, so you never have to enter the object to edit the component.

* The Outliner window shows you all the parts in a group, so you can access and manipulate them. 

 * Guidelines let you place an infinite line, so you can align two objects which are far apart. The Measuring Tape makes guides. When done, click Edit>DeleteGuides. [I need to see if this tip is written in order].

* Color Lines by Axis. To ensure lines in your model are perfectly horizontal and verticle, temporary enable colored axis lines. [I need to fill out this tip].

* See all inverted faces, even if a model is textured, by clicking View>FaceStyle>Monochrome. Blue faces should not be seen, as some tools don't see them as exterior. Rendering extensions don't like blue faces.

* Tiny models have jittery issues. Make the model ten times larger and the tools behave more smoothly.

* Scenes allow you to instantly tab between different cameras. It also controls hidden geometry, layers, sections, view style, shadow settings, and axis location. 

* Delete unused textures you imported, to have a much smaller file size. Sketchup saves all textures within the saved file.

* If two overlapping objects refuse to merge, highlight them and rightclick, click IntersectFaces WithModel and WithSection.

* Search Google for "Sketchup Tips and Tricks".

* FollowMe Tool to make Pipes, or a tangled spaghetti pipe: Draw the pipe as a line, it can be straight or round or wobbly and as long as you like, it can go any direction you like. At the end of the line, draw a circle (with as many sides as you like). The circle has to be perfectly centered on the line. The width of the circle, is the width your pipe will be. SingleClick on the circle, then click FollowMe tool. Now SingleClick the circle with the FollowMe tool, let go of all buttons, then move the mouse along the line you had made. The mouse must stay perfectly on the line, or the pipe will give up. You'll see your pipe being created, SingleClick when done. If there's a fork in the line, where you drag will determine where the pipe is made. Alternate pipe method:If you wish to have thick pipe walls, draw an inner circle with the Offset tool, and draw that with the FollowMe tool. For more, search YouTube for "make a pipe in sketchup".

 Afterwords, optionally press K to see inside the pipe, and use the EraseTool to delete any extra lines within the tube (press K again to toggle this ghost effect).

* FollowMe Tool to make a vase. Example... Draw a verticle rectangle, make one side wobbly. This is half of a vase outline. On the flat non-wobbly side, draw a verticle line downward a bit. At the bottom of the line, draw a flat horizontal circle (a floor). That circle has to be perfectly centered on the verticle line. SingleClick the circle, then select the FollowMe tool, then single-click on the square you drew. Wait a moment, and your square will be converted to a 3D vase. For a visual example, search youtube for "make a vase in sketchup". If your flat square is a half-circle on one end, you'll create a sphere! If your circle floor has, let's say, 4 sides, you'll have a square vase!

* Hide half of a house using SectionPlane Tool: Cut a model along a plane (a wall) so that you can peer inside the model — without moving or hiding any geometry. In a 3D model, an active section plane hides everything on one side of the plane. You can also switch the cut to hide the opposite side, or select a different section plane to be active. Cut a house horizontally to see down at the floor plan. Cut a house vertically to see through walls. Steps... You may need to have your group opened by clicking on it a bunch of times, if the object is in a group. With nothing selected, click  Tools, Section Plane. Or click the SectionPlane toolbar button if you have one (The circle icon next to the feet and eye icons). Now create the plane (aka wall) by clicking on your object. Align the plane to an axis (vertical or horizontal) by using your keyboard arrow keys. Press escape to start over. Move the Plane by using the Move tool, or the Rotate tool. That's it! Right click on the plane to activate or deactivate it, or to Reverse what side of the object is invisible. Search YouTube for "Sketchup Section Plane". And for advanced users, a SectionPlane can do a lot. Sketchup Manual for SectionPlanes:


* Place a photograph onto a curved surface. Create a cube which one side is a curve of some kind. Now draw a flat square in front of the curved surface (not touching the cube), the same height and width of the cube. This new flat square is what you'll project the photograph through. Select the flat square, then click File, click Import. Ensure the format options say "Use as Texture", not "Use as image" nor "use for photo match". Open your photograph. Now click the corner of your flat square and stretch the photograph to the square, noticing the photo is tiled (repeating) odd. So rightclick the texture, click Position, center your photograph. If you wish to stretch the photograph, rightclick the photo again and select Fixed Pins. The pins turned colors, and you can use them to stretch or rotate the photograph. Rightclick and say Done. Now rightclick the photograph, click Texture, click Projected. Now click the PaintBucket tool, press Alt button (or command on mac) to sample your photograph. Then click on the curved surface to paint your photograph onto the curve. Done! Search Google or Youtube for "Mapping photo texture to curved surface, Sketchup" for other tutorials. 
For Cylendars: You can also wrap a photograph around a perfect cylendar (a soda can shape), using a different process: Make a cylendar, select the side of it, click File, click Import, ensure "Use as Texture" is selected, click import, then click the bottom edge of your cylendar and stretch the photograph to the top edge of the cylendar. Notice your photo only painted one verticle line on the cylendar. This is because Sketchup's cylendars are really a bunch of flat boards joined together, it's not really perfectly round. Now open your PaintBucket tool, select the Photograph out of your textures, and now paint the cylendar with your photograph. 



Sketchup Keyboard Shortcuts for Windows

* Typical Windows shortcuts apply: CtrlX is cut. CtrlV is paste. CtrlC is copy. CtrlZ is undo. CtrlY is ReDo. Esc is cancel. 

* Ctrl+MouseDrag makes a copy of a selected shape or line.
* With nothing selected, using the MoveTool, Dragging a point will distort your shape.

[more shortcuts to be added later].

Sketchup2017 Shortcuts [incomplete list, in the process of editing]

* To examine current shortcuts, go to Window, Prefrences, Shortcuts. For Mac go to LayoutPrefrences, Shortcuts. Don't change shortcuts unless you very familiar with Sketchup.

M Move
Q Rotate
K See-through (lets you delete lines inside an object)
Select None: Ctrl+T

S-1 Scale
Draw 2point Arc: A
Draw Line: L
Draw Circle: C
Draw Rectangle: R
Make Component: G

Camera Orbit: O
Camera Pan: H
Camera Zoom: Z
Camera Zoom Extents: Ctrl+Shift+E or Shift+Z
Camera Zoom to Window: Ctrl+Shift+W



Make Glass in Brighter3D Extension for Sketchup

Tips for glass in brighter3d




Internet Resources for Sketchup 

Official Site: 

Official Forum:

Official Facebook:

Official Manual and Help Center:

Official Getting Started Center:

Official QuickRefrence Card for Noobies:

Official Extension Warehouse:

Official 3d Warehouse:


Brighter3D Rendering Extension: 



End of Article.