Match Photo: Matching models to photos

      NOTICE: SketchUp 2015 is here! When you look at this Knowledge Center article, be sure to pick "SketchUp 2015" from the red box above to see the 2015 version of that content. If there is no version picker, this content applies to all versions of SketchUp.

Matching an existing 3D model to a photo's context

Use the matching process to match an existing 3D model to a photo's context. For example, you might have a model of a house that contains an addition and want to place that within a photo to show the change. To match an existing 3D model to a photo's context:

  1. Take a digital picture of the location where you will place your building. This photo might or might not have an existing building where the model will be located.
  2. Select File > Open. The Open dialog box appears.
  3. Navigate to your model.
  4. Select the model.
  5. Click the Open button. The model appears in the drawing area. The following image shows a model of a simple schoolhouse.
  6. Select Camera > Match New Photo. The Select background image file dialog box is displayed.
  7. Navigate to the photo where you want to place your building or structure.
  8. Click on the photo. The photo is selected.
  9. Click the Open button. The photo will appear in the drawing area on its own scene in SketchUp. You are also placed in a matching mode where you will calibrate SketchUp's camera to duplicate the position and focal length of the camera used to take the actual photo. The words 'Match Photo' appear in the upper-left of the drawing area. Finally, the Match Photo dialog box appears. Refer to Matching Controls and Context-Menu Items for further information. Following is a picture of match photo mode with a photo of a schoolhouse:
  10. Click and hold the cursor on the origin (). The cursor changes to a hand.
  11. Move the cursor to a distinct origin-like point on photo (where three axes might intersect, such as bottom corner of building). Following is a picture of the origin adjusted to the lower corner of the image:
  12. Note: The origin you use depends on the photo:
    • For photos that are usually taken indoors where walls, ceiling, and floor of a room meet at a corner, the origin is usually at the bottom corner where the walls, ceiling, and floor meet.
    • For photos that are taken from a vantage point where you are looking down on the building or structure, the origin would be at the top corner of the building where roof and walls meet.
    • For photos that are taken from a vantage point where you are standing on the ground, the origin would be the bottom corner where the walls and ground meet.
  13. Release the mouse button. The origin is established.
  14. Uncheck the Model checkbox in the Match Photo dialog box. The model will be hidden.
  15. There are four vanishing point bars in matching mode, two red bars and two green bars. Each bar is represented as a dashed line with square bar grips at the end. Click on a green vanishing point bar grip ( ). The cursor changes to a hand.
  16. Move the cursor to the starting point of a position on the photo representing a line parallel to the green axis, such as the top of the school entrance. Zoom in, if necessary, to ensure that the grip is over the upper-right corner of the school entrance.
  17. Release the mouse button.
  18. Click on the other green vanishing point bar grip. The cursor changes to a hand.
  19. Move the cursor to the ending point of a position on the photo representing a line parallel to the green axis.
  20. Release the mouse button. The first axis bar is aligned to the green axis, such as the entrance to the school. Zoom in, if necessary, to ensure that the grip is over the upper-left corner of the school entrance.
  21. Repeat steps 14 through 19 for the remaining three (one red and two green) vanishing point bars. Following is an image of the matching mode after all of the vanishing point bars have been aligned to axis:
  22. Note: Axis bars should be aligned to features that are parallel to their corresponding axis, such as window frames, roof lines, or door frames. Also, try to pick the longest features as this will increase precision.
  23. Check the Model checkbox in the Match Photo dialog box. The model will reappear, oriented correctly to the photo (but likely not-to-scale with the photo).
  24. Click on the blue axis bar (Z axis). A two-way arrow appears.
  25. Move the cursor up or down the axis to scale your model. Your model will scale to fit the photo. Following is an image showing the adjusted scale (the model to the correct scale of the photo):
  26. (optional) If your photo contains an existing building that is now represented by your model, click the Project textures from photo button in the Match Photo dialog box to project the photo on the model. The message "Trip partially visible faces?" appears.
    • Press the Yes button if you only want textures applied to the portion of faces that are shown in the image.
    • Press the No button if you want textures applied to the entire face, even if the face is only partially shown.

    The photo are projected on the faces of your model. Following is an image with a textured model:

  27. Context-click to invoke the matching context-menu.
  28. Click the Done button. You are placed in a sketching mode. This mode, unlike normal SketchUp drawing mode, is a 2D drawing mode. The words 'Sketch Over' appear in the upper-left of the drawing area. The Pencil tool is active. Refer to Sketch-Over-Image Controls and Context-Menu Items for further information.
  29. (optional) Add new features to your model such as a room addition or fence.

  30. Warning: Tools that manipulate your point of view force you out of Sketch-Over-Image mode into normal SketchUp drawing mode. These POV tools are the Orbit Tool, Position Camera Tool, Walk Tool, and Look Around tool. Click on the scene tab to return to Sketch Over mode.