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Copying What You’ve Already Drawn

In SketchUp, you can copy geometry by using

  • The Copy and Paste commands
  • The Move tool ()
  • The Rotate tool ()

When you copy and paste with the Move tool, you can make a single copy or create multiple copies and tell SketchUp how to space them — if you know the secret keystrokes.

Use the Rotate tool when you want one or more copies to circle around a center point, sort of like engineers around a DIY quadcopter kit.

Table of Contents
  1. Copying and pasting geometry
  2. Copying and multiplying geometry with the Move tool
  3. Rotating copies around an axis

Copying and pasting geometry

SketchUp's Copy and Paste commands work much like they do in many other programs. Here's how to copy and paste in SketchUp:

  1. With the Select tool (), select the geometry you want to copy. See Selecting Geometry for tips on making selections.
  2. Select Edit > Copy from the menu bar. Or press the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+C (Microsoft Windows) or Command+C (Mac OS X).
  3. Select Edit > Paste from the menu bar. Or press Ctrl+V (Microsoft Windows) or Command+V (Mac OS X). Your cursor changes to a Move tool cursor, and your copied geometry floats around as you move the mouse. In the figure, you see a copy of the copied trapezoid-shaped face about to be placed on the red-green plane.
  4. Click where you want to place the copied geometry.

Copying and multiplying geometry with the Move tool

The Move tool can copy geometry, too — or make numerous copies — with only a few clicks and keystrokes.

Tip: When you copy with the Move tool, you can specify an interval for the copies. This feature is particularly useful for creating 3D models of fences, bridges, and decks, where several posts or beams are equally spaced.

To make copies with the Move tool, follow these steps:

  1. With the Select tool (), select the geometry you want to copy.
  2. Select the Move tool () from the toolbar or press M. The cursor changes to a four-way arrow.
  3. To tell SketchUp that you want to duplicate the selected entities, press and release the Ctrl (Microsoft Windows) or Option (Mac OS X) key. Next to the four-way arrow cursor, a plus sign appears.
  4. Click the selected entities.
  5. Move the cursor to copy your selection. A copy of your selection follows the Move cursor as you move it onscreen. In the figure, the fence panel has been copied.
  6. Click where you want to place your copy. The copied entities are now selected and the original entities are deselected. Alternately, to move your selection a precise distance, you can type a length value, such as 21' or 30m, and then press Enter (Microsoft Windows) or Return (Mac OS X).
  7. (Optional) Immediately after placing your copy, create multiple copies or equally spaced copies by typing a value and a multiplier, which appear the Measurements box. The following table outlines your options.
To Do This Type This Example
Create multiple copies. A number and X, or * and a number Type 7x (or *7) to make 7 copies.
Divide the distance between the copy and the original. A divisor value Type 5/ (or /5) to create five copies evenly spaced between the original and the first copy.

Tip: You can keep typing distances and multipliers until you perform another operation. In the figure, typing 3/ created enough fence panels to complete one section of the privacy fence. In this way, you can add a fence or other repetitive element to your model in minutes.

Note: Technically, when you create multiple copies, you're creating a linear array.

Rotating copies around an axis

Whether you want to model Stonehenge or a backyard fire pit, the Rotate tool simplifies the work of placing copies around a center point.

Tip: If you're not familiar with the Rotate tool, review the basics of rotating geometry in SketchUp.

To rotate copies around a center point, follow these steps:

  1. With the Select tool (), select the geometry you want to copy and rotate.
  2. Select the Rotate tool () on the toolbar or press Q.
  3. Click where you want the rotation's center point to be, as shown where the Rotate cursor appears in the figure.
  4. Click the selection you want to copy and rotate. The following figure shows the inference lines that appear after clicking the rock.
  5. Tell SketchUp to make copies by pressing and releasing the Ctrl key (Microsoft Windows) or the Option key (Mac OS X). A plus sign appears next to the Rotate cursor. (You can actually tell SketchUp to make copies anytime between Steps 3 and 5.)
  6. Move the cursor to wherever you want to place your rotated copy. As you move the cursor, an inference line shows the angle between your original geometry and the rotated copy, as shown in the figure.
  7. Click to place your copied geometry.
  8. (Optional) Type a number and the x, *, or / modifier to create multiple copies around the center point. (See the earlier table for details about what each modifier does.) In the figure, typing 7/ created 7 copies of the rock.

Note: Under the hood, when you follow the preceding steps, SketchUp is creating a circular array of objects.

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