Walking through a Model

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:

  • The Position Camera tool () enables you to view your model at a specific height relative to the surface of your model. That height is meant to reflect a person's eye height, and you can adjust it to any height you like.
  • The Look Around tool () enables you to move the camera from side to side, sort of like turning your head.
  • The Walk tool () moves SketchUp's camera forward or turns it in different directions, which simulates how your model looks from eye height.

Because all these tools are related, you find them clustered in the following parts of the SketchUp interface:

  • Camera menu
  • Camera toolbar (Microsoft Windows)
  • Large Tool Set

Tip: Before you start exploring your model, know that the walkthrough tools work best when SketchUp's camera has a wide field of view. For details about changing your field of view, see Viewing a Model.

In the following sections, you find videos that demonstrate how the walkthrough tools work and steps with detailed explanations of how to use each tool.

Positioning the camera

You can position the camera using one of two methods:

  • Place the camera at eye-level above a specific point (5' 6" above that point by default).
  • Place the camera at a specific point, facing a specific direction.

In the following video, you see how to use both methods.

To position the camera a specific point, follow these steps:

  1. Select the Position Camera tool ().
  2. Click a point in your model, and SketchUp places the camera's point of view at 5' 6" directly above the point you click.
  3. (Optional) If you want to make the eye height taller or shorter, enter a new value and press Enter. Remember that Measurements box is ready to accept a value; you don't need to click in the box before you type a value.

After you place your camera, SketchUp automatically switches to the Look Around tool (). Basically, you just click and drag the cursor in the direction you want to look, but the next section, Looking around your model explains the details.

If you follow the preceding steps, the camera by default looks due north, which is the top of the screen in SketchUp-land. If you want the camera to look at a specific object or in a specific direction within your model, position the camera by following these steps:

  1. Select the Position Camera tool ().
  2. Click and hold the mouse where you want to position the camera.
  3. Drag the cursor to the point or object that you want the camera to display.
  4. (Optional) Type a new eye height in the Measurements box and press Enter.

Looking around your model

If you position SketchUp's camera with the Position Camera tool, then SketchUp automatically activates the Look Around tool (). You can also activate the Look Around tool by selecting the tool itself.

The Look Around tool's cursor looks like an eye, to emphasize that it's simulating looking around a model at eye height. When you're in the Look Around tool, the Measurements box is ready to accept an Eye Height value anytime. Just type a value and press Enter. Note that the value you type is relative to the ground plane, not a surface in your model.

To do some actual looking around, click and drag the Look Around cursor left, right, up, or down - whichever way you'd like to turn your simulated head.

Walking through a model

The bad news is that walking through your model isn't actual exercise. But everything else about the Walk tool is pretty awesome!

In the following video, you see the Walk tool in action, and the video is a nice introduction to how the tool works.

Here's the, uh, step-by-step for walking through your model:

  1. Select the Walk tool (). The cursor changes to a pair of shoes.
  2. Click and drag the cursor to start walking. A small crosshair appears where you click, and the farther you walk from the crosshair, the faster you walk. You can also control your speed with modifier keys, outlined in the following table.
  3. Move the cursor up, down, left, or right to move through your model. You can go up and down inclines or stairs while maintaining eye height. However, by default, collision detection is turned on, so you can't walk through walls; override collision detection with a modifier key.
Tip: Want to stop and look around during your walk? If you're using the recommended scroll-wheel, two-button mouse, looking around is easy. When you're using the Walk tool, click and hold your scroll wheel to temporarily switch to the Look Around tool.
To Do This Microsoft Windows Modifier Key Mac OS X Modifier Key
Move up or down (instead of backward and forward) Shift Shift
Run instead of walk Ctrl Option
Walk through walls (that is, disable collision detection) Alt Alt
Note: When you're using the Walk tool, the Measurements box indicates the eye height relative to the ground plane. You can override this height at this time by typing a new value and pressing Enter. However, because the Walk tool maintains a consistent camera height as you walk, relative to the model surface, you shouldn't need to enter a new Eye Height value as you walk around.
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