• SketchUp Tutorial Part One

    SketchUp Tutorial Part One

    By Paul Mort

    Welcome to Part One in a series of short tutorials about how to create and manipulate objects in SketchUp, along with some handy tips I have learned along the way. Many of you out there might be quite familiar with SketchUp and also of its numerous uses, but I'm betting that there are quite a number of you who either haven't heard of the program, or have heard of it, but are unfamiliar with its uses. Well, fear not, as I will attempt to shed a wee bit of light on what the world of SketchUp contains.

    To put simply, SketchUp is a 3D software package (free for non-commercial uses) that enables you (the creator) to design and model objects. These objects can then be used in various applications, such as simulators, with scenery being a case in point.

    What makes SketchUp different from the many other 3D programs you often see available on the internet, is the way it goes about creating these objects. You see, the whole concept of SketchUp is its 'ease of use' and believe me, when compared to other 3D design programs, SketchUp is easy!

    Before we start this tutorial, make sure SketchUp is installed on your system. You'll find the package here: http://www.sketchup.com.

    When opening the program for the first time, one of the first things you will see is the outline of a woman (Figure 1), and no ordinary woman either (is there such a thing?) as there is more to her than meets the eye! This female character has a special purpose, as she will be your guide as to the size of the objects you create compared to the average person. For example, I often use her to estimate the size of doorways, which is particularly important when creating buildings.

    Figure 1

    SketchUp uses three colors for the axes used to draw items, BLUE for up/down, GREEN for front/back and RED for left/right.

    The menu bar (Figure 2) may be a little daunting at first but it will become second nature to you in a surprisingly short time.

    Menu Overview

    Figure 2

    In this first tutorial, we will cover the use of the first FOUR tools in the toolbar.

    Let's take a look at the very first menu item, which is: SELECT.

    SELECT is the arrow with which items can be...you guessed it, selected. When any item is left clicked, it will highlight by turning blue and subsequent operations will be carried out only on this item. You can select more than one item with SELECT, by clicking the left mouse button and then holding down and dragging around your selected items. This you will notice, will give them all blue outlines. Subsequent operations will be carried out on all selected items as a whole.

    Next along is the ERASER, a precise and handy tool for removing lines. You will see a small circle attached to it which, when the left mouse button is held and passed over a line or made to follow a path, will remove any line it passes over.

    Our first real drawing tool is next and is a LINE DRAWING tool formed in the shape of a pencil. To create a simple line, select the line tool, click and release on the point of origin for the line, drag to the desired destination, click the left mouse button once again and a line will appear between the two points. If after clicking and releasing on the origin point, you want to make the line parallel to any axis, hold down one of the arrow keys as shown below (Figure 3) and the line will be locked to and drawn from your origin, parallel to your desired axis. Lines can of course be drawn in any arbitrary direction.

    Figure 3

    Tags: sketchup

    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      Great tutorial Paul. Many thanks for sharing with the community!

      Looking forward to the next in the series.


    1. vflight2's Avatar
      vflight2 -
      All this is new to me. I just finished going through your "Part I" exercise and I am anxious to get on to Part II. I never thought I could learn these types of 3D cad programs. Many thanks for introducing this software to us.

    1. Bushpounder's Avatar
      Bushpounder -
      Found an answer to my question. Question deleted.
    1. oveegerup's Avatar
      oveegerup -
      Great tutorial Paul !
      Any chance of seeing it put together in a PDF file?
      I could put on my tablet and read anywhere at any time.
    1. BayAreaAviation's Avatar
      BayAreaAviation -
      Very useful articles. I know many people, including myself, will find this very handy!

      Keep up your great work!

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