• Like many SketchUp users, you may want to use your CAD files to create excellent, useful, and lightweight SketchUp models. Importing and exporting common CAD file formats has always been part of SketchUp's DNA, but CAD files imported into SketchUp do have a few known quirks that you can sidestep if you know the tips explained in this article. Here are the known issues that you may find after you import a CAD file into SketchUp:

  • Previewing a SketchUp model in Google Earth is great way to see how your model looks in the context of its surroundings. You start the process in SketchUp, where you optimize the model for viewing in Google Earth. Because Google Earth and SketchUp models can both use a lot of your graphics card’s processing power, your model needs to be as light as possible. When your model is ready, you can preview your model in Google Earth directly from SketchUp. All it takes is a single click!

  • Imagine shrinking into a tiny person and jumping into your computer to check out (or show off) your 3D models. That’s basically what SketchUp’s walkthrough tools enable you to do. But instead of altering your entire body composition, you just click a few tools — namely the Position Camera, Look Around, and Walk tools. Tip: Remember that SketchUp uses the metaphor of a camera to change how you see your model. Here’s how each tool enables you to tour your model:

  • In SketchUp, section planes cut a model along a plane so that you can peer inside the model — without moving or hiding any geometry. In a 3D model, an active section plane hides everything on one side of the plane, as shown in the following figure. You can use section planes for all types of applications:

  • Like all SketchUp users, you want SketchUp to be fast. Whatever your experience level or modeling style, the way you model impacts SketchUp’s performance, and this article explains how to create 3D models in ways that optimize performance. Behind the scenes, you can check how your computer stacks up against SketchUp’s requirements. And tucked into SketchUp’s preferences, you find a few settings that might also boost performance.


  • To create a dynamic component, you add attributes to a basic component and then create values for those attributes. For simple dynamic components, the process is easier than you might think, especially if you start with SketchUp’s predefined attributes and are familiar with SketchUp’s basic drawing tools and spreadsheet programs’ common functions. You don’t need to be a computer programmer, a math genius, or a benevolent wizard.

  • In SketchUp, layers control your geometry’s visibility.

  • SketchUp components enable you to reuse objects. For example, pretty much every building has at least one door and window. Instead of modeling these common objects, you can insert a component that someone else has already made. Like all geometry in SketchUp, a component is still made of edges and faces. The edges and faces are simply part of a special component group. (You can also create components to reuse your own geometry, but that’s covered in Developing Components and Dynamic Components.)

  • Have you ever stuck a decal on a window or a wall? In SketchUp, sticking an image on a face is even easier than those decals, because digital images don’t wrinkle or trap air bubbles. Technically speaking, SketchUp enables you to import images that are already on your hard drive or grab images from Google Street View. If you import images from your hard drive (select File > Import to see the Open dialog box, shown in the figure), you can import the image as an image, a texture, or a matched photo.

  • With SketchUp’s Solid tools, you can create new shapes by combining or cutting one shape with another, making it easy to model an outer shell or joinery.