Adjusting the Drawing Axes

The red, blue, and green axes seen when you first open a new SketchUp model are not only starting points but guides you can use throughout the modeling process. Adjusting the SketchUp drawing axes makes drawing a 3D model easier. Here's some examples:

  • Using tools that modify geometry based on the drawing axes: When you align the edges that you want to modify with the axes, it's easier to modify your geometry.
  • Creating a 3D model by tracing a floor plan: Aligning the edges of a rectangular floor plan with the red and green axes helps you trace your floor plan. The SketchUp inference engine highlights edges parallel to an axis as you draw them with the Line tool.

  • Geolocating a model on terrain: If you're drawing a geolocated model, you probably want to align the drawing axes to the cardinal directions those axes represent, helping situate your model on the terrain correctly. (If you're not familiar with these modeling techniques, learn more about modeling terrain and working with TINs.)
  • Casting realistic shadows: Geolocated models let you see how your model looks at different times of day. Aligning your axes to the cardinal directions helps you convey a sense of realism in your model.

In SketchUp you can adjust the drawing axes in a way that best suits your model, or even hide them!

Moving and Rotating

Tip: Before you adjust the drawing axes, find the best view of your model. Often, that's a corner to which you want to align the axes, either from the top or the side. You can orbit around or select an option from the Camera > Standard views submenu. (See Viewing a Model for a more in-depth look at your viewing options.)

To adjust the axes with your mouse, follow these steps:

  1. Activate the Axes tool () from one of the following locations:
    1. The Construction toolbar
    2. The Large Tool Set (Windows)
    3. The Tool palette (macOS)
    4. Axes under the Tools menu
    5. The Place option seen in the context menu when right-clicking the axes.
  2. If you want to instantly place your axes, simply double click at the desired location. You can also double click at any point outlined in the steps below to place the axes as seen in the modeling window.


    Tip: As you reorient the drawing axes, keep an eye on the blue axis. Unless you want to flip your model (and the flip and rotate features offer better ways to do that), make sure the blue axis points up. It is possible for it to point down or to the side as you hover the mouse cursor around looking for new axis points.
  3. For more precise placement, click once to place the axes origin point. A dotted red axis will extend to your mouse cursor.


    Tip: After you place the origin or select your first direction, tap Alt (Microsoft Windows) or Command (macOS) to alternate the axis orientation leading to your mouse cursor.
  4. Click to place the second axis. Another dotted axis, representing the third axis, extends from your mouse cursor.
  5. Click to place the third axis.


    Tip: Set your axes origin point at the bottom corner of an object in your model. You can then set your other axes aligned with edges and receive on-screen inference cues.

To align the axes to a face, context-click the face and select Align Axes. How the axes align depends on what planes that face exists in. Here's an example of how it works:

  • If you select a face in the blue-red or blue-green plane you rotate the axes 90 degrees (#1). Notice how the green axis points up and the blue axis turns on its side (#2).
  • If you select a face in the red-green plane (#3), the axes don't rotate, but the ground plane becomes aligned to the selected plane (#4).

This is most useful when you're drawing a 3D model from a 2D shape drawn on the ground plane. Select the 2D face on the ground plane, and the drawing axes become aligned to the lower-left corner before you start drawing in 3D.


If you want even more precision, you can use Move Axes.


  1. Context-click an empty area on an axis and select Move.
  2. In the Move Axes modal, enter how far you want to move and rotate each axis in the units of measurement you've specified for your model.
  3. Click OK.



  1. Context-click an empty area on an axis and select Move.
  2. In the Move Sketching Context modal, enter how far you want to move and rotate each axis in the units of measurement you've specified for your model.
  3. Click OK.


Resetting the drawing axes

After moving your axes from here to there to everywhere else, you can move the axes back to their default position easily. Simply context-click an axis and choose Reset.


Hiding the drawing axes

Don't want to see those pesky axes in your model? Hide them using one of the following methods:

  • Context-click an open area on an axis and select Hide.

  • Select Axes from the View menu, removing the check next to it. Select Axes again to un-hide the axes.

Aligning the drawing axes with the cardinal directions

Each axis has a solid line on one side of the origin and a dotted line on the other side of the origin. The solid blue line leads up from the origin and the dotted blue line leads down. The remaining lines correspond to one of the cardinal directions (north, south, east, west).

Solid green lineNorth
Dotted green lineSouth
Solid red lineEast
Dotted red lineWest
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