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Creating and Editing Models in SketchUp for Schools

SketchUp for Schools offers most of the same tools and features you find in the desktop version of SketchUp. However, in SketchUp for Schools, these tools and features are found in slightly different places. If you’re new to creating 3D models in SketchUp, learning where to find the tools and panels is easier than ever!

This article orients you to creating 3D models in the SketchUp for Schools interface. Find out how to create a new model, change its units of measure, and geolocate it. You also find a brief intro to the SketchUp for Schools tools and panels, as well as references to articles that explain how to use them.

Tip: The performance of SketchUp for Schools depends on your hardware, your browser, and the model’s file size. Your graphics hardware and the amount of memory your browser allocates to each tab can impact performance. Generally speaking, SketchUp for Schools can work with ~40MB files. See the system requirements for more details.

Creating a model from a template

To create a new model in SketchUp for Schools, you start with a template. Follow these steps:

  1. In SketchUp for Schools, click the Open Model/Preferences icon (Open Model/Preferences).
  2. On the panel that appears, click the New Model icon (New Model). The following figure shows your template options.
  3. Select a template that reflects your desired units of measure. Your options include feet and inches, meters, or millimeters. After you click an option, your new model opens in SketchUp for Schools, ready for you to begin 3D-modeling.
Select a template to begin creating a new model in SketchUp for Schools

Setting a model’s units of measure

If you want to change a model’s units of measure, follow these steps:

  1. In SketchUp for Schools, click the Open Model/Preferences icon (Open Model/Preferences).
  2. On the panel that appears, click the Model Info icon (Model Info).
  3. On the Model Info panel that appears, select an option in the Format area. In the following figure, 1/2" is selected.
  4. In the Precision area, select your desired level of precision.
  5. Click Return in the upper left to return to your model.
Use the Model Info panel to change the units of measure for a model

Inspecting entities

To see details about an entity in your model, select it and click the Entity Info icon (Entity Info). As shown in the following figure, the Entity Info panel that appears shows details such as the type, instance, definition, layer, shadow settings, and visibility setting.

Use the Entity Info panel to see details about an entity in your model

Introducing the SketchUp for Schools tools

As you create a 3D model in SketchUp for Schools, the tools look a little different but work just as they do in the desktop version of SketchUp. In the SketchUp for Schools interface, you find the toolbar of tools on the left. Some tools display a little arrow, which means that clicking the tool displays a flyout menu of several related tools, as shown in the following figure.

Use the Entity Info panel to see details about an entity in your model

In the following table, you find an introduction to each tool and a link to the SketchUp area of the Help Center, where you find more details about how to use the tool.

Tool What It Does Learn More
image Use Select to select entities. Selecting Geometry
image Eraser removes lines, faces, or other entities. Erasing and Undoing
image Paint Bucket applies the active material to faces . Adding Colors and Textures with Materials
image Sample makes any material you click the active material. Adding Colors and Textures with Materials
image Line draws straight lines. Introducing Drawing Basics and Concepts
image Freehand mimics drawing with a pencil or pen. Drawing Freehand Shapes
image Arc creates a basic arc. Drawing Arcs
image 2 Point Arc pulls an arc from a straight line. Drawing Arcs
image 3 Point Arc bends an arc on a pivot point. Drawing Arcs
image Pie creates a closed arc that’s a pie shape. Drawing Arcs
image Rectangle creates a basic rectangle or square. Drawing Basic Shapes
image Rotated Rectangle helps create a rectangle at an angle instead of aligned with an axis. Drawing Basic Shapes
image Circle draws a circle. Drawing Basic Shapes
image Polygon creates a polygon with any number of sides. Drawing Basic Shapes
image 3D Text creates 3D-style text in your model. Adding Text, Labels, and Dimensions to a Model
image Push/Pull drags a face in 3D space so it expands or disappears. Pushing and Pulling Shapes into 3D
image Follow Me creates an entity along a path. Extruding with Follow Me
image Offset creates an entity that’s offset a distance from another entity. Offsetting a Line from Existing Geometry
image Outer Shell leaves only the outer faces of overlapping solids. Modeling Complex 3D Shapes with the Solid Tools
image Move can move, copy, or stretch entities. Moving Entities Around
image Rotate moves entities at a specified angle. Flipping and Rotating
image Scale resizes entities. Scaling Your Model or Parts of Your Model
image Tape Measure measures entities and helps you model precisely. Measuring Angles and Distances to Model Precisely and Scaling Your Model or Parts of Your Model
image Dimensions marks a length or angle. Adding Text to a Model
image Section Plane cuts through a model to show a plan and/or side view Slicing a Model to Peer Inside
image Protractor measures angles. Measuring Angles and Distances to Model Precisely
image Axes moves or sets a model or component’s axes. Adjusting the Drawing Axes
image Walk simulates walking through a model Walking through a Model
image Position Camera allows you to view your model at a specific height relative to the surface of your model. Walking through a Model
image Look Around allows you to move the camera from side to side, sort of like turning your head. Walking through a Model
image Orbit enables you to fly around a 3D model. Viewing a Model
image Pan moves your view up, down, left, or right. Viewing a Model
image Zoom enables you to view detail or your overall model. Viewing a Model
image Zoom Window zooms into a specific rectangular portion of your model. Viewing a Model
image Zoom Extents displays the whole model in the drawing area. Viewing a Model

Inserting an image or SketchUp file into your model

With SketchUp for Schools, you can insert image files (PNG or JPG) or a SketchUp (SKP) file. When you insert an image file, you can insert it as an image or a material. When you insert a SketchUp model, the model becomes a component within your currently open model.

To insert an image file, follow these steps:

  1. Click the File Operations icon (File Operations) and select Insert from the menu that appears.
  2. Drag and drop a PNG or JPG file to the Insert File box. Or click the Computer icon to browse to an image file saved on your computer, and use the dialog box that appears to open the file.
  3. Choose whether you want to insert the image file as an image or as a material. For details about working with images in SketchUp, see Sticking a Photo or Texture to a Face. For help working with materials, see Adding Colors and Textures with Materials.

To insert a SketchUp file as a component, follow these steps:

  1. Click the File Operations icon (File Operations) and select Insert from the menu that appears.
  2. Choose the SketchUp file you want to insert in one of the following ways:
    • Drag and drop a SKP to the Insert File box.
    • Click the Computer icon to browse to a SketchUp file saved on your computer, and use the dialog box that appears to open the file.
    • Click the Google Drive icon (Google Drive) to select a model saved via Google Drive.

Geolocating a model

When you geolocate model, you embed longitude and latitude information that enables you to conduct shadow studies and more. In SketchUp Free, you can geolocate a model by following these steps:

  1. Click the Open Model/Preferences icon (image).
  2. In the panel that appears, click the Add Location icon (image).
  3. In the Search box at the top of the map that appears, type an address or intersection where you want to locate the model. Then click Search.
  4. Click Select Region in the upper right.
  5. Drag the corners of the selection box to refine the location.
  6. Click the Grab button in the upper right, and your location’s terrain is imported into your model as a layer.

For an introduction to terrain, start with Modeling Terrain and Other Rounded Shapes. If you’re interested in studying realistic shadows, check out Casting Real-World Shadows.

Touring the SketchUp for Schools panels

On the right side of the SketchUp Free interface are icons that open a tray of panels. Click an icon to open the tray, and click any panel name to toggle it open or closed. The following table points you to a Help Center article that explains more about each panel.

Panel Learn More
Entity Info Entity Info is handy in all sorts of instances. These articles explain when Entity Info is especially handy.
Instructor The Instructor is a help tool in itself. Open it for help with the currently selected tool.
Components Adding Premade Components and Dynamic Components
Materials Applying Colors, Photos, Materials, and Textures
Styles Choosing a Style
Layers Controlling Visibility with Layers
Views Viewing a Model explains perspective and parallel projection. Creating Scenes explains how to save a view as a scene.
Display This panel helps you manage hidden geometry, section planes and cuts, axes, guides, shadows, and fog.