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Extruding with Follow Me

The SketchUp Follow Me tool () is the Pied Piper of 3D geometry: Follow Me leads a face along a path to create a 3D shape. The Follow Me tool does only one thing. However, it has a multitude of applications and enables you to draw complex 3D models with only a few clicks.

Tip: Follow Me is especially handy for modeling finishing details that follow a perimeter or edge, such as crown molding or gutters. It also makes easy work of modeling lathed objects, like a spindle, and curved vessels, such as a bowl or a vase.

Here's where you find the Follow Me tool in SketchUp:

  • Tools menu
  • Edit toolbar
  • Large Tool Set toolbar
  • Tool palette (Mac OS X)

In the following video, you see a quick demonstration of the Follow Me tool's many applications. Read the following sections for steps that walk you through modeling with Follow Me.

Table of Contents
  1. Automatically extruding a face with Follow Me
  2. Manually extruding a face with Follow Me
  3. Modeling a lathed shape with Follow Me

Automatically extruding a profile with Follow Me

This method is the easiest and usually the preferred way to use the Follow Me tool. To extrude your face automatically, preselect the path using the Select tool. The Follow Me tool then follows the path along your selection. The following steps explain how the process works:

  1. Draw a profile of the face that you want to follow the path, like the yellow face shown in the figure. Make sure that this profile is approximately perpendicular to the path. Note that the profile doesn't need to be connected to the path. It just needs to be perpendicular.
    Tip: To keep your profile drawing perpendicular to your path, draw your profile on a face and then erase any edges you don't need.
  2. With the Select tool (), select the continuous set of edges that represent the path, also shown in the following figure.
  3. Select the Follow Me tool (). The edges remain selected.
  4. Click the profile that you created, and the surface is extruded automatically along your preselected path, as shown in the following figure.

Note: If you've organized your model into groups, your selection and profile must be in the same group for the preceding steps to work. See Organizing a Model for details about groups.

Manually extruding a profile with Follow Me

When you extrude a profile along a path manually, you do a bit more work but can control the direction the extrusion travels. Here's how the manual method works:

  1. Identify the path for your extrusion.
  2. Draw a face or profile that you want to follow the path. Make sure that this profile is perpendicular to the path. In the following figure, the profile is the half-moon shape and the path is around the blue shape.
  3. Select the Follow Me tool ().
  4. Click and drag the face that you created along the path. As you drag, touch the mouse pointer to the path you're following. SketchUp highlights the path in red, as shown in the figure. If your starting edge is not touching the profile, Follow Me starts extruding at that edge, not from the profile to that edge. If you need to start over, press Esc.
  5. Click to complete the Follow Me operation when you reach the end of the path.

Note: If you've organized your model into groups, your selection and profile must be in the same group for the preceding steps to work. See Organizing a Model for details about groups.

Modeling a lathed shape with Follow Me

You can use the Follow Me tool to mimic a lathe. Follow these steps:

  1. With the Circle tool (), draw a circle.
  2. With the Line, Arc, and Freehand tools, draw a cutaway of half of the final shape. You need to make sure the cutaway meets the following criteria, as shown in the figure:
  3. The cutaway forms a face. (Make sure all your arcs and lines connect.)
  4. The cutaway's face is perpendicular to the circle.
  5. The bottom of the cutaway (which will be the center of your final lathed shape) aligns with the center point of the circle.
  6. With the Select tool (), select the circle.
  7. Select the Follow Me tool () and click the face of the cutaway. Be patient. If your geometry is complex, this step can take a while to complete. After the processing is complete, the shaped object is displayed, as shown in the following figure.

Tip: If you have trouble with your extrusion, zoom in close and check for gaps between the lines. Use the Line tool () to connect any gaps and try your extrusion again. Also orbit around to make sure your cutaway is perpendicular to the circle.
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