Tech Glossary

Tech Glossary


Angular Rotation Value - The value in the Measurements toolbar that is displayed when measuring an angle with the Protractor tool.

Autofold - The process of skewing, distorting, or folding geometry by selecting a specific point on an edge or face and moving the points. See also Sticky.

Axonometric - Meaning 'measurable from the axes.' An axonometric projection is a view of a model in which lines appear parallel in both 3 dimensional and 2 dimensional space, and lines have a length that is to some scale, (for example 1" in SketchUp = 1" in the real world).



CAD - See Computer Assisted Design

Camera - A software implementation of the user's point of view. See also 'Point of View.'

Camera angle - See 'Point of View.'

Camera tool - A software tool used to alter the user's point of view of a SketchUp model.

Chord length - The distance between the starting point and the ending point of an Arc entity.

Component entity - An entity that contains other entities. Components are models that are saved as SketchUp files for reuse in other SketchUp files.

Components browser - The Components browser is used to instance Component entities from component definitions, including those components that you create and a variety of pre-built components that you can use in your models.

Component definition - The blueprint that defines the appearance and behavior of all component instances. Component definitions are created and stored in the Components browser either as part of a component collection or when you create a component.

Component instance - An instance of a component definition, such as an a single instance of an office chair component. You can have multiple component instances from the same component definition.

Component collection - A series of related component definitions, such as a component collection of doors or windows.

Computer Aided Design - Software used for precision design. CAD is traditionally rigid and is often used for creating construction documents from which you would create the actual item you are designing.

Guide tools - tools used to create construction geometry and prepare physical documentation.

Context - An isolated realm that separates geometry within from anything outside. When you start a SketchUp model you are working within the model context. When you make a group or component you are essentially creating other contexts inside of the model context. When you edit groups or components you are in the group or component context. Certain commands or operations, such as the Unhide All command, scaling using the Measure tool, and placing active Section Planes, are limited to a particular context. Additionally, when you create and select other entities, you are essentially in the entity's context.

Context menu - A menu of menu items or commands available in a particular context, such as when a line or component is selected.

Cutting behavior - The ability of component entities to cut holes in faces. The component's cutting behavior is established when the component is initially created.

Cutting plane - A plane defining the exact location where the component will cut into a face.

Coplanar - Refers to entities that exist in the same plane.

Curved face set - A series of faces joined to make up a curved surface, such as a tube or arch.


Dialog Stack - dialog boxes arranged such that they form a stack.

Distort - Twisting out of natural shape.

Drawing area - The area within the drawing window where you create your model. See also 'Drawing window.'

Default material - A material assigned to all newly created faces. The default material is different for the front and back of faces.

Drawing tool - A software tool used to create entities and geometry from scratch.

Drawing window - The entire application window for SketchUp. The Drawing Window contains menus, toolbars, the status bar, and the drawing area. See also 'Drawing area.'


Edge-based modeling - A form of modeling in which a surface is automatically created for 3 intersecting coplanar edges.

Edge entity - Edges bound faces within geometry. The term edge and line are used interchangeably.

Entity - The smallest graphical building blocks in SketchUp. Entities are used to create geometry which, in turn, is used to create models.

Extrude - The action of thrusting out or growing a form.

Extrusion -A from that has been extruded. See 'Extrude.'


Functional terrain - Terrain that has no portion of itself bending back upon itself creating overhangs, underhangs or caves.

Face entity - A planer entity bounded by 3 or more intersecting coplanar edges or lines.

Face shadows - Shadows projected onto horizontal faces by vertical faces based on the sun's angle in the sky.


Geometry - The combination of 3 or more entities. Geometry in SketchUp usually refers to an indistinguishable portion of a component or model.

Georeferencing - The process of establishing an image or model's physical location in the real world. A relationship between an image or model and its real world coordinates.

Ground plane - A flat or level surface representing the ground. In SketchUp, the ground plane is represented by the exact location of the red and green axes.

Group entity - An entity that contains other entities. Groups are commonly used to combine several entities into a single entity for the purposes of performing a quick operation, such as a copy and paste.

Gluing behavior - The ability of component entities to align to faces in a specific orientation. The component's gluing behavior is established when the component is initially created.

Ground shadows - Shadows projected onto the ground plane by vertical faces based on the sun's angle in the sky.


Healing - The concept of joining two faces by erasing, or 'healing' a line that intersects a face. Creating one face from two.


Inference - The identification of relationships between entities in the drawing area. These relationships are pointed out to the user by the inferencing engine and can be used as references for drawing in 3D space.

Inference engine - Functionality built into SketchUp to locate or infer points from other points in your model, such as the center of a circle, the midpoint of a line, a line that is perpendicular to the ground plane, a point on a face, a point on an edge, and so on. The inference engine notifies you of these points by using both color indicators and on-screen messages indicating the location of the cursor as you draw an entity. For example, SketchUp displays the string 'From Point' when the line you are drawing is in plane with another point.

Insertion point - The point where the cursor will grab and insert the component in to a model from the Components browser.

Instance - see 'Component instance.'

Intersection - The concept of splitting faces and edges to create additional independent faces and edges by intersecting the face or edge with a line.




Layer - Layers are used to control the visibility of geometry within large models. A SketchUp layer is an attribute with a name, such as 'Layer0,' 'Layer9,' or 'Chairs.' Elements can be assigned different layers.

Layers manager - A dialog box used to apply and manage layers in your model.


Manager - A dialog box used to store and manipulate a specific aspect of SketchUp functionality such as scenes, components, or materials.

Material - Software-simulated paints that have both color and texture attributes. For example, a brick material might contain the color of red and a rough appearance or texture similar to real brick.

Modal dialog box - A dialog box that temporarily prohibits the user's interaction with the application. Modal dialog boxes usually require the user to perform some action prior to returning to normal application use.

Model - The contents of a SketchUp file. See also 'Component.'

Modification tool - A software tool used to modify existing entities or geometry.

Modeless dialog box - A dialog box that does not prohibit the user's interaction with the application. See also 'Modal dialog box.'

Move Point - The point where you click on the entity with the Move tool.



One-Point Perspective - In central perspective or one point perspective there is only one vanishing point (vp), which is located straight in front of the viewer: it is the vanishing point for the direction of view. This is not determined by our view, but the flat faces and tunnel walls of all objects within view. All lines drawn in the blue axes are exactly perpendicular to the ground plane and all of the lines drawn in the red and green axes are exactly perpendicular to the blue axes when viewing a 2 or 3 dimensional drawing viewed in one point perspective.

Origin - The point where the drawing axes intersect or 'originate.'

Organic shape - Geometry or models that have a hand-made or custom appearance.


Pan - A camera movement in which the camera turns side to side.

Paraline - See 'Axonometric.'

Perspective - A distortion of the camera angle such that it represents the model as though you were standing at a fixed position and looking at it without moving (certain items appear closer while other items appear to be far away; entities are not to scale).

Plane - A flat or level surface.

Point of view - The user's view of the model.

Polygon mesh - A surface comprised of polygons, each derived from irregularly spaced points.

POV - see 'Point of view.'

Principal tools - Tools that tend to be used most often in SketchUp.

Pulling - The process of reshaping your model by shrinking a portion of your model back toward its starting point along a single axis.

Pushing - The process of reshaping a your model by expanding a portion away from its starting point and along a single axis.



Ruby console - An environment where you can experiment with Ruby commands or methods.

Ruby script - A small program, written in the Ruby programming language, that adds functionality to SketchUp.

Ruby Programming Language - An object oriented scripting language.


Sandbox - Surfaces created with the From Scratch and From Contours tools are referred to as sandboxes because like sand in a sandbox, these surfaces can be sculpted using a special set of tools called sandbox tools. Other terms for sandbox are terrain or Triangulated Irregular Network (TIN).

Scene - Similar to a slide in presentation software, a scene consists of your model and a series of scene-specific settings, such as a specific point of view, shadow, display setting, and section cut. Scene can be combined to form animations in SketchUp.

Score - A thin slice allowing for folding.

Section Cut effect - The result of slicing through your model to see inside and optionally modify its inner working.

Section plane - Special entities that are used to control the selection, placement, orientation, direction, of the section slice.

Section slice - The edges created by the intersection of geometry at a section plane.

Segment - A segment is a single line that, when combined, form an arc, circle, or polygon. The more segments an entity has, the smoother it appears.

Skew - To place at an angle.

Solid - any 3d model (component or group) that has a finite closed volume. A SketchUp solid must be watertight, or manifold, meaning it cannot have any leaks, missing faces, or faces that do not meet at an edge.

Split - The concept of creating two faces from one by dividing the face with a line.

Stickiness - Entities are said to be 'sticky' in that when connected to another entity, moving one entity might move or alter the another, attached, entity. See also Autofold.

Surface - A series of joined faces.


Three-point perspective - In three-point perspective there are three vanishing points (vp), allowing you to construct a form in any orientation. Three-point perspective is usually used to represent three dimensions in a three-dimensional medium such as SketchUp.

Tilt - A camera movement in which the camera tilts up or down.

TIN - See 'Triangulated Irregular Network.'

Triangulated Irregular Network - A surface comprised of triangles, each derived from irregularly spaced points. This surface is also referred to as a sandbox and mesh.

Triangulation - The orientation of triangles in a TIN (horizontal or vertical). See also 'Triangulated Irregular Network.'

Two-point perspective - In two-point perspective there are two vanishing points (vp), which are located to the left and right of the viewer. Two-point perspective is usually used to represent three dimensions on a two-dimensional medium. All lines drawn in the blue axes are exactly perpendicular to the ground plane when viewing a 3 dimensional drawing viewed in 2 point perspective.



Measurements toolbar - The Measurements toolbar displays dimensional information while you draw. You can also enter values into the Measurements toolbar to manipulate the selected entity.


Walkthrough tools - tools used to view your model as through walking around and in your model


X-ray mode - A display setting whereby all faces have an applied global transparency. X-ray mode is useful for seeing, and sometimes editing, the inner workings of your model