A beginning guide for manufacturers of surface treatments and textures


In terms of SketchUp content development, manufacturers can be broken down into two camps: those that provide surface treatments and those that provide physical products (3D models). Both are useful and desireable to users of 3D Warehouse. The former tend to be 2D in nature, representing paint, carpet, tile, etc. Surface treatments are usually represented as materials and material libraries which are applied to the model geometry with the Paint Bucket tool.

The 3D Warehouse is mainly a repository for 3D models, and the majority of this article has addressed how to make better geometric models. However, to provide 2D materials to users, the materials should be applied to geometry that is put into 3D Warehouse. This article deals with addressing the 2D world of surface treatments in SketchUp.

Different approaches for sharing colors or textures

There are two different approaches for sharing colors or textures:

  1. Create one model for each color/texture and group similar colors/textures with a 3D Warehouse collection (e.g. view an example collection here).
  2. Create one model as a palette, which contains multiple different colors/textures (e.g. view an example model here).

The first approach requires the user to download multiple files if they need multiple colors/textures, which might be a hassle. This approach does not fill the user's material catalog with unused materials. This approach allows you to break down your download analytics in more detail to see which colors/textures your users are interested in.

With the second approach the user is able to get multiple colors/textures with a single download. From this file a user can quickly save all colors/textures to a local material collection for future use on any project. A local collection also helps a user to more quickly test many different options in their model, when they are unsure on what color/texture is best for their project.

Or you may decide to use both approaches, view an example catalog here.

The next chapters explain how to create a palette, but you can apply the same principles when creating a single color/texture. You can also represent your color/texture in 3D rather than 2D by applying it to a Box or other realistic object.

Creating a palette for surface colors (e.g. paint)

A good way to approach solid color, like paint or stain, is to rely on your internal color value specification. Start by modeling a 2D field of faces that all face upwards:

  1. Use the rectangle tool and draw a 36 x 36 square.
  2. Reverse the face (so that the white surface faces upwards , instead of the grey one).
  3. Array the square into 10 across and 10 down.
This is your color chip board, which you can then upload to 3D Warehouse once you have painted the chips with the desired colors.

To paint the chipboard:

  1. Select the Paint Bucket tool and create a color based upon the RGB values (or the hexadecimal number) from your product literature.
  2. Paint the new color onto one of the squares (paint chips).
  3. Continue until your palette is complete.
  4. Name each color using the name from your product line, and the file is ready for the 3D Warehouse.

Users can paint with your colors in two ways. First, they can sample the color from the chip set once it is downloaded into their SketchUp file. Users would use Alt+Paint Bucket [Cmd+Paint Bucket] to eyedropper sample, then click on the surface to paint.

Or, they can save the color palette out as a local collection and then all your colors will show up in their Material Browser for use in any model.
To save your colors out as a local collection, go to the details button of the Colors in Model window and select Save collection as… [List > Duplicate…] This will create a folder filled with SKM files that will show up in the material browser without having to import the color chip model first.

Creating a palette for surface textures (e.g. carpet, wood, tile, stone)

Manufacturers of surface treatments that are a patterned veneer (wood, carpet, tile, stone, etc.) need to approach this a bit differently. You still build a sample chip board in SketchUp, but each texture has a scale and a pattern that will determine how the material gets applied in a users model. So these values need to be set prior to upload to 3D Warehouse.

Textures in SketchUp become tiled across surfaces when they are applied with the Paint Bucket tool. When a simple image is repeated, there can be a very obvious repeating pattern where the edges of the tiles occur. Make sure that your textures’ edges match to minimize this artifact.

Tiled textures must be scaled to the correct size to be used quickly and easily by end users. To do this, paint the texture onto a real world sized sample model. Then use the color edit dialog to change the scale factor until it is correct (real world size) and give your texture the correct name as well.

Once tiling, size, and name have been addressed for each material, paint them onto your color chips. Now you are ready to upload the chipboard file to 3D Warehouse. Use the same process described previously to save all the textures out locally as a collection of SKM files.

Here’s an example of a good end result by a manufacturer called Satori: 3D Warehouse and sample board.

Managing your content files

Many manufacturers have multiple products to put into 3D Warehouse. Anytime you have multiple files, developing a methodology of systematic component and file naming is important. Also you should be consistent across your collections. For more information about file naming see the following article: File management, uploading & branding.