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Importing and Exporting COLLADA Files

COLLADA is an XML-based schema that enables you to transfer data among 3D digital content creation tools, such as SketchUp, Maya, 3ds Max, and Rhino. COLLADA files use the .dae file extension, which stands for digital asset exchange.

In SketchUp, you can import and export COLLADA files pretty easily.

Note: SketchUp supports the COLLADA 1.4 specification and schema. To learn more about COLLADA, visit Collada.org.
Table of Contents
  1. Importing a COLLADA file
  2. Exporting a COLLADA file

Importing a COLLADA file

To import a COLLADA file into SketchUp, follow these steps:

  1. Select File > Import.
  2. In the dialog box that appears, locate and select the .dae file that you want to import.
  3. Click the Options button. The DAE Import Options dialog box appears.
  4. (Optional) By default, the Validate COLLADA File checkbox is selected, which prompts SketchUp to check that your file is a valid COLLADA 1.4.1 file. If the file isn’t valid, SketchUp asks whether you still want to import the file. Note that an invalid COLLADA file can yield unexpected results. Deselect this option if you don’t want SketchUp to check the file’s validity.
  5. (Optional) By default, the Merge Coplanar Faces checkbox is selected, which tells SketchUp to automatically remove edges on coplanar faces that share the same material. This feature is helpful when importing 3D data from programs that use only triangular faces, which can be tedious to clean up by hand in SketchUp. Deselect this option to retain the triangular faces.
  6. Click OK in the DAE Import Options dialog box.
  7. Back in the main dialog box, click Open (Microsoft Windows) or Import (Mac OS X), and SketchUp begins importing your COLLADA file.

Tip: If you can’t see the imported model, click the Zoom Extents tool () so that the model fills the SketchUp drawing area.

Exporting a COLLADA file

Before you export a 3D model from SketchUp to a COLLADA file, know that COLLADA doesn’t support all SketchUp features. If your SketchUp model includes the following elements, don’t expect to see them in your exported COLLADA file:

  • Coordinate lines
  • Dimensions
  • Guide lines and guide points
  • Matched photos
  • Material pushpin locations
  • Rendering options
  • Scenes
  • Section planes
  • Section cuts
  • Shadows
  • Text

To export your SketchUp model to a COLLADA .dae file, follow these steps:

  1. Select File > Export > 3D Model. The Export Model dialog box appears.
  2. Navigate to the location where you want to export your COLLADA file.
  3. From the Export Type drop-down list, select COLLADA File (*.dae).
  4. (Optional) By default, SketchUp gives your COLLADA file the same name as your SketchUp model, but you can change the name by typing a new one in the File Name box.
  5. (Optional) Click the Options button to open the DAE Export Options dialog box. Select your options, which are explained in the following list, and click OK to return to the Export Model dialog box.
  6. Click the Export button, and your exported file is saved in the location you selected.
  1. Select File > Export > 3D Model. The export dialog box appears.
  2. Navigate to the location where you want to export your COLLADA file.
  3. From the Format drop-down list, select COLLADA File (*.dae).
  4. (Optional) By default, SketchUp gives your COLLADA file the same name as your SketchUp model, but you can change the name by typing a new one in the Save As box.
  5. (Optional) Click the Options button to open the Export Options dialog box. Select your options, which are explained in the following list, and click OK to return to the export dialog box.
  6. Click the Export button, and your exported file is saved in the location you selected.

When you export a COLLADA file, most of your options enable you to determine how geometry is exported, but you also have options for materials and credits. The following list explains each checkbox you find in the DAE Export Options dialog box:

  • Export Two-Sided Faces: When this checkbox is enabled, faces are exported twice: once for the front and once for the back. SketchUp welds the vertices of the front faces together and the vertices of the back faces together. This option doubles the number of polygons in the resulting .dae file and can slow down rendering. However, this option ensures that, in other COLLADA-compatible programs, your model appears more like it appears in SketchUp than it would otherwise. Both faces will always render, and materials applied to front and back faces are preserved.
  • Export Edges: When this option is selected, the exported file maintains the appearance of a SketchUp model with visible edges. Note that stand-alone edges are always exported.
  • Triangulate All Faces: When selected, this option breaks all surfaces into triangles instead of multisided faces. Use this option when you plan to use your COLLADA file with a program that supports only triangular faces.
  • Export Only Selection Set: If you select geometry before you begin the export process, you can select this checkbox to export only the geometry that’s currently selected in SketchUp’s drawing area. If you don’t select anything in your model or leave this option deselected, the whole SketchUp model is exported to your COLLADA file.
  • Export Hidden Geometry: If your SketchUp model contains hidden geometry, selecting this checkbox tells SketchUp to export that geometry.
  • Preserve Component Hierarchies: As explained in Organizing a Model, you can create hierarchies of groups and components. When you select this checkbox, the component hierarchies appear in the exported .dae file, too. When this option is deselected, the component hierarchy is flattened, and component instances become unique objects rather than instances of a single component. For details about component instances, see Adding Premade Components and Dynamic Components.
  • Export Texture Maps: When this option is selected, textures applied to your model are exported with your .dae file.
  • Preserve Credits: Select this option if you’ve added one or more credits to a model’s creator in the Model Info dialog box and you want to export those credits. This feature is especially handy if you want to share your exported file to the 3D Warehouse.
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