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Some people think that SketchUp is too simple, others are afraid that they’d need additional extensions in order to work effectively. But despite the huge number of various plugins, SketchUp can do a lot without them.


SketchUp's interface is simple, not overloaded with features, and works quickly. However, there is also a reverse side of the coin. There are a lot of subtleties in the program interface that you need to know in order to be able to use it.


3D SketchUp: All you should know about it


For example, you need to know how alignment on objects and axes works correctly, how to copy, and resize, how to rotate along different axes and planes, how to draw objects correctly, etc.


Let's learn about the pros of SketchUp and its most useful features from this article. Seat yourself in a comfortable chair (like the ones from acme furniture) and let us begin.



1. Quick Selection

Depending on the number of clicks on the left mouse button, the same Select tool works differently:

  1. select a surface or edge - one click;
  2. select surface together with adjoining edges - double click;
  3. select the entire object - triple click.


2. Movement along the axes

SketchUp has many preset snaps: vertices, lines, and planes. There are those that can be controlled from the keyboard - for example while moving or copying an object:

  1. move the object strictly up (along the blue Z-axis) - with the "up" arrow pressed on the keyboard;
  2. move right or left (along the red Y-axis) - with the right arrow pressed;
  3. move backward or forward (along the green X-axis) - with the "left" arrow pressed.




3. Precise move and turn

When moving, rotating, and copying objects in SketchUp, you can set the exact distance or angle by entering a value in the Measurements window located in the bottom panel of the interface:

  1. Select the Move or Copy tool or Rotate
  2. Start performing the action (hold down the Ctrl key when copying)
  3. Enter the distance or degree of rotation from the keyboard
  4. Press Enter to complete the action.


You can specify the exact distance or angle of rotation from the keyboard right during the operation, without placing the cursor in the Measurements window.



4. Multiple copy

An array in SketchUp is a set of identical objects in a model (objects with the same parameters). The array can be linear (copies of the object are distributed in a straight line) and circular (the object is copied with rotation).

  1. To create several copies of an object at once and place them at an equal distance from each other, you need to:
    copy the object once at the desired distance → enter “x” (or “*”) from the keyboard and write the exact number of objects, for example: “x5” (or “*5”) → press Enter to complete the action.
  2. To copy an object multiple times and arrange the copies within a precisely specified distance, you need to:
    copy the object once, specifying the exact distance in the Measurements window; → type "/" on the keyboard and write the exact number of objects → press Enter to complete the action.



5. Working with components

Components in SketchUp are co-dependent copies of the same object or group of objects: if you change the content in one of the components, the changes will be reflected in the others too.


If you create all the repeating elements of the model as components, you can significantly reduce the weight of the SketchUp file and avoid the routine work of editing and copying the same objects.


For this you need to:

→ create an object → right-click → select the “Make Component” option.


Components can also:

  1. Be edited, regardless of other copies - for example, scaling, rotation, or moving will not affect other copies.
  2. Be detached from the general group and edited independently of other copies. To do this:
    → select a component → right-click → select the “Make Unique” option.




6. Repeated extrusion and offset

When extruding surfaces, the Push/Pull tool remembers the value that was used for the previous action.


To extrude several planes at the same distance, you need to:

→ extrude the first surface by specifying the desired distance using the keyboard → move the cursor to the next plane → click 2 times with the left mouse button.


The same applies to the Offset toolkit.



7. Accurate scaling

When scaling objects in SketchUp, you can manually set the proportion of increase or decrease, or specify the exact value of the new size - for this you need to enter a value in the Measurements window located in the bottom panel of the interface:


  1. To change the size of an object by the exact number of times, you need to:
    → select an object → enter the desired proportion from the keyboard (for example, “0.7” or “1.3”) → press Enter to complete the action.
  2. To equate the size of an object or any of its sides to a specific number, you need to:
    → select an object → select the “Scale” tool → select the slider on the side that you want to increase / decrease → enter a new value and units of measurement from the keyboard.
  3. To change the size of all objects in a group according to the known new size of one of the objects, you need to:
    → go into the group and select the object → select the Tape Measure Tool → measure one of the sides of the object in the group → enter a new length value in the Measurements window → press Enter → select “Yes” in the dialog box.



8. Redefining axes in a group

Sometimes the axes of individual groups or components in a model differ from those of the SketchUp workspace. This happens, for example, if you group an object after rotation - or when working with downloaded components. The discrepancy between the axes of the object and the working space of the program prevents the correct scaling of objects and the use of snaps to the axes within groups.


To redefine the coordinate system within a group, you need to:

→ go to the group → select the tool “Axes” → move the cursor to one of the vertices of any of the objects → “magnetize” the new axes to the desired direction.


After this, you can correctly scale and reshape objects without being tied to the main SketchUp coordinate system.



9. Create arcs and circles

When drawing arches and circles in SketchUp, you can control the smoothness of the arc by setting the exact number of segments in the Measurements window located in the bottom panel of the interface:


→ select the tool “Arc” or “Circle” → enter the number of segments from the keyboard → start creating an arc or circle.


All in all, 3d SketchUp is not so hard to deal with, especially if you love learning new things and developing new skills. Find out more about 3d from this awesome article.