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Click on the Pencil tool to select it. Quickly click and release, or “tap”, the left mouse button on the screen (push down on the button and let up) to anchor the starting point of an edge. As you move your mouse cursor on the screen to finish the edge, if the rubber band line at the cursor is parallel with an axes direction (red, green, or blue), the rubber band line takes on the color of that direction. If you draw in any other direction, the rubber band line will show as black. Tap the mouse again to place the edge. This tap - move - tap method of mouse manipulation is the best to adopt for using SketchUp.
The newly drawn edge will now display as black, and the cursor will continue to “chain”, drawing another edge from the last point you clicked. Be aware, if the rubber band line turns blue, you are drawing in the vertical direction and the edge will not be co-planar with edges drawn on the red-green ground plane, hence a surface will not be formed even if you close the loop of edges endpoint to endpoint.
Now draw a line in the blue direction and back down to one of the other points of the base triangle. Connect the top endpoint with the remaining base point, and you have created a prism in 3D space.Combine inference points with fixed directions when drawing
Inferring in SketchUp allows you to align things without having to perform calculations. Using inference to single points is helpful (green endpoints, cyan midpoints, blue on face, red-X intersections). Power modeling comes when you learn to combine inference points with directions. Use the keyboard arrow keys to lock an inference. The right arrow key locks the cursor in the red direction, the up arrow locks in the blue, the left arrow locks the green, and the down arrow locks parallel and perpendicular.
Another method of inference locking is to hold the Shift key while pausing in the desired direction. To master inference locking, learn to use the Shift key. The Shift lock has the advantage of working in any orientation on any object in the model regardless of its orientation to the red- green- blue directions. As long as the Shift key remains pressed, the inference direction remains locked.To do this, pause the cursor in any direcction or on an edge, and hold down the shift key. The current tool will be locked along that direction. Pause the cursor on a face and hold down the shift key, and the tool will remain locked upon the plane indicated by the face. As long as you continue to hold the shift key the inference stays in focus. The two inferences that are not invoked until you have begun an operation are parallel and perpendicular. They only have meaning when you have already begun an operation that requires a direction from a base point. The parallel and perpendicular color is magenta, and may be locked with shift once you see it indicated on the screen.
Tip: Inferring along a direction back to a face is the way to fix a ‘bent face’ that will not heal into a single face. Here the illustration shows moving the vertex in the blue direction to be coplanar with the other triangle. Use this method to simplify complex triangulation that sometimes occurs with imported CAD geometry.
This can happen with the complex triangulation that sometimes occurs with imported CAD geometry.
A great use of inferring is when you want to draw from an imported 2D image file to create a 3D object. Here, we hover the rectangle tool over the side of the cooling unit and hold Shift to lock to that plane below. Then draw a rectangle using the CAD image above for the reference points. The points are traced on the CAD image, and the inference lock projects them down onto the face. Entire models can be generated using this method. (also from 2D CAD vector files)
SketchUp does not have a revolve or lathe function. SketchUp accomplishes these tasks with the Follow-me tool. Place an extrude profile perpendicular to a path of edges. Click-drag on the profile face. The geometry to be created is shown as you move the cursor along the path. Let up on the mouse button when you are finished tracing the path and the geometry is added to the model. Follow-me can add geometry to the outside of a form or subtract it from the volume, filleting an edge.
For sweeps based upon closed paths, it is best to pre-select the path with the Select tool. Then pick the Follow-me tool and click the cursor on the profile face. The geometry will be created all at once, swept around the path, and the new geometry will close correctly with no gaps at the start/ end point.
To create a lathed object:
Things can be quickly optimized in this way by simply reducing arc and circle segmentation. Follow-me creates geometry by first projecting the profile geometry normal to the path. Note that if your profile is not already normal to the path, this process will distort the desired result.
You can quickly align profiles to a path using this Align Profile Tool. If you would like to do this manually, you can follow the three step process below to orient a profile normal to a path, regardless of the orientation of the beginning of the path.
Step 1, Align the profile along the first edge of the path:
Step 2, Align the profile flat to the first path segment:
Step 3, Align the profile normal to the path:
The Push/Pull Scale and Rotate (PSR) method can be very helpful in modeling organic and complex forms. This method requires good judgement on the part of the modeler when determining the amount of accuracy. The Push pull tool in combination with the scale tool allows quick linear concentric modeling. This method works especially well when you have plan, section, and elevation drawings of the object.
Begin by drawing a profile shape. Then use successive push/ pull operations and scale and/or rotate on the new extruded profile. Notice that the center method was used for the scaling operation (Ctrl modifier [Option key on Mac])
Over the course of several of these iterations the object takes shape. The interior edges have been softened and smoothed with Ctrl-Erase [Option-Erase on Mac]
The profile can be modified at any stage by adding vertices and then adjusting the shape with the Move tool on a vertex. You can also vary the profile by changing the scaling points from center to corner or side . This allows the profile to change asymmetrically over the shape.
Here is an example of modeling a pen using this method. This method is not limited to concentric forms. Much more complex forms can be modeled from a tennis shoe to an automobile.
The Move tool can be one of the more difficult tools for new users to master. However, understanding a few key points will help remove this difficulty.Relative vs. absolute moves
There are two types of move operations in 3D modeling, a general (relative) move, and a specific (absolute) move. General move means to shift something in space given very general directions. Think of when you tell someone to “move that drink away from the computer!”. The person can accomplish this without specific directions as to where to grab the cup, nor where or how to place it away from the computer. They just move it away some distance relative to where it was.
Most move operations in 3D modeling are specific or absolute in nature. This means that the modeler specifies an exact point as the start (base) of the move, and an exact point to which the geometry is to be attached or moved (finish point).
Problems usually come when a user tries to combine specific and general behavior in the same move operation. In SketchUp, the only exact known points (points that the user can consistently select) are Endpoints, Midpoints, and Intersection. An On Edge or On Face inference by definition is “somewhere” on the edge or face… and only the computer knows exactly what that point is in model space. Whenever you click the Move tool on an object, the software uses that exact (specific) point as the base point, even if it is unknown to the user. When you click to finish a move on a face, that is an exact point somewhere on the plane, not floating in air above the face.
Many of the SketchUp tools have active selection as part of their behavior. This means that, if nothing is currently selected in the model, the tool will automatically select whatever the tool cursor is touching. But this also means that the click point immediately becomes the base point of the operation. With the Move tool (and Rotate tool) this can be problematic because the base point for a move should usually be a specific, known point.
Consider this common scenario. A user places a tree into their model. Then they want to move the tree, so they click on it with the Move tool, usually up in the leaves somewhere, since this is the biggest target area. Then they move the cursor onto a hillside and click to place it… and the tree becomes a bush. This is because the exact point in the leaves gets placed on the ground, and the trunk sinks beneath the surface. This is the magic disappearing tree trick. A better starting base point would have been to click on the base of the tree trunk where it meets the ground. Then the tree will be placed at the finish point on the ground surface.
When moving sub-components around within a product model, pick endpoints or midpoints for your base move point and you will get consistent results with the move tool.
Placing Guidelines can help with accurate placement of objects. You can infer to where guidelines and faces intersect. Guidelines help keep concentric assemblies lined up.When to pre-select edges before moving
Another common situation is when trying to move an edge based upon its endpoint. If the Move tool is auto-selecting raw geometry, it cannot highlight an entire edge while at the same time highlighting a single endpoint. In this chair example, active selecting the endpoint on the arm and moving it causes the arm and side faces to fracture and subdivide (this is autofold behavior, view more about it here).
Pre-select the edges with the Select tool, then use the Move tool to incline the arms downward to the height of the side table. Move the arms down by using the endpoint of the arm as the base point, and infer the finish point to the side table.
In SketchUp, a selection of items persists between tools. In other words, picking a new tool does not cause the software to drop the current selection. Nor does completion of an operation drop the current selection. For new users, this persistent selection can result in accidental moves of geometry.
There are two things to be aware of after you move something: first, the objects you have selected remain selected. Secondly, you are still in the move tool. So if you click the mouse again, that starts a new move operation on the same stuff. Do not try to move the cursor back to the same spot and click to put it back… it won’t work. Use the Escape key to interrupt the accidental move operation in progress. Don’t click the Undo button, there is nothing to undo!
There are three ways to clear a selection set:
Another thing to consider is that when you click on an object to move it in a general way, the base point is selected and begins the move operation. If you change your mind about the move, you cannot simply click the mouse back at the starting point. This will not work because you cannot be sure of the exact same point from which you started the move (unless it was an endpoint or midpoint).
The correct method whenever you are in the middle of performing a move operation is to hit the Escape key to interrupt the operation. Do not hit the undo button, because by definition, if you have not finished the operation, there is nothing to undo. In these cases, you will end up undoing your previous work, and if it is off the screen, you won’t even realize it! Always consider Escape before Undo. If you do click the finish point of a move that wasn’t what you wanted, then it’s the right time to use Undo. This is true of all editing and drawing tools in SketchUp.
There is no specific copy tool in SketchUp. This is because there are several tools that can duplicate geometry, specifically the Move tool, the Rotate tool, and the Push/Pull tool. Because of this variety, things are copied within SketchUp by use of a modifier key while using a tool. Tapping the Ctrl key [Option key on Mac] will put a small plus sign ‘+’ at the tool cursor to let you know you are in copy mode.
With the geometry selected and the tool active, tapping the Ctrl [Option] toggles SketchUp into copy mode for that tool. Tapping Ctrl [Option] again puts the tool back into normal mode. Since this is a toggle, you may invoke it at any time within the operation of the tool.
Now that we understand copying, arrays of objects (groups or components) are merely an extension of this concept. The move tool makes linear arrays, and the rotate tool makes circular arrays. There are two types of arrays: external arrays and internal arrays. For external arrays you define the distance between each copy and the number of copies. For internal arrays you define the total distance between the first and last copy and the number of equal divisions in between.
To make an external linear array:
To make an internal linear array:
To make an external circular array:
To make an internal circular array:
The stickiness of geometry in SketchUp often frustrates new users, especially those used to another CAD paradigm. Many times you will want to disengage some geometry from things around it so that editing operations do not affect the adjacent faces and edges.
Groups are just like components but, unlike components, a copy of a group does not know about any other copies. That is, they are single instances of an object. Groups do not have definition names like components, and they do not show in the component browser. However, Groups do show in the Outliner. Groups in the outliner are shown with a solid square beside the name, Components are shown with a set of four smaller squares in a grid pattern to show this item is repeatable.
Groups are for gathering geometry into a single object, either temporarily, or for long term use. As shown above, groups can be used to quickly isolate a piece of geometry from the rest of the model. Then edit that new group and make your editing changes, adding edges, moving points and edges, etc. Then close the group edit, and explode the group back to raw geometry. It will merge back with the adjacent geometry only where they share edges. With a little clean up, the changed geometry will be re-connected to the whole model.
Consider this airplane object (1). To Rotate the multiple flaps on the wings, all the adjoining faces of the wings get warped (2) due to the interconnectedness of the model because of autofold . Instead, select all the flaps and make a group of them. (3) Now that group can be rotated independently of the wings. Explode that group, and all the flaps become re-interconnected to the wings wherever their edges are shared.
Let’s look at a more complex example of this.
The Offset tool also repeats with a double click.
A corollary to the “group method” shown above, is to move geometry between components, groups, and the main model using Paste in Place. Here is where SketchUp shines. You can really begin to think of your design as very malleable and responsive to your direction.
Consider the table example again. While editing the table top group, we want to copy some other items from the rest of the model.
Often you will need to copy or move geometry into or out of a component or group. Many times it is best (and easier) to make a quick group of the items, then cut the group to the clipboard. Go into the target context and Edit > Paste in Place. Then, explode the quick group to make it merge into the target context. Mastery of this method is essential for efficient SketchUp modeling. You can seamlessly move geometry between components (or groups) in a model. This is where the Paste in Place method becomes pervasive in your workflow.
There is another use of the clipboard which is very powerful in SketchUp. You can move items between SketchUp models using this Paste in Place technique. This method works great on the Mac because you can have multiple models open at once, but in Windows it takes a little more time to open and close files, but it still works between files. SketchUp remembers the location of the clipboard stuff in the coordinates of its model world. You can open another file and paste the geometry in place into the second model at the same relative location in the second file (that is, relative to the origin of both files). The geometry is immediately placed into the model without you having to click the mouse at a location.
Finally, the Paste in Place method works through Time…
Say you are working on a model and you realize that you want to recover something you had done several steps back in time. To bring that something forward in time:
Similarly, you can model into the Future and then bring the new design back into the past… For example, you have been modeling along and developed a part of the design, but you want to Undo back several steps in the rest of the model.
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