SketchUp Tutorial – An Introduction
So in a previous post I did a brief overview of why SketchUp is so fantastic, now lets get down to the basics of using the program itself. Many of you may be new to SketchUp and at first glance it may seem quite limited, it isnt. It’s a powerful program with great scope if you know what you’re doing. Through these tutorials I will teach you how to get the most out of it!
Before we begin it is worth pointing out that I work on an Apple Mac. SketchUp is available for both Mac and Windows machines and everything I will show you is possible on a PC. Good luck!
Ok, so starting at the very beginning, lets visit the Google SketchUp website and grab the download, and whilst its downloading explore the website. The galleries can be very eye opening and serve as a great proof of what is possible (even if they aren’t always the best designs).
So when your download is complete and you’ve installed, its time to begin using the program itself.
Lets start with setting up a document. Once the program is open you’ll need to access the ‘Preferences’ pane, which can be found under the ‘SketchUp’ menu at the top of your screen (see picture 1). Under the preference pane click on template. Here you can choose the units you wish to work with. I work on a daily basis in millimetres, so I set up my SketchUp files to reflect this.
There are a few other settings that you can play with within the preference pane (like setting the auto-save function if it hasn’t been done automatically) – these should be changed to your desire. One very peculiar aspect of SketchUp’s option set up is that there is another settings pane under View>Animations>Settings. Here you will not only find settings for animations, but also further unit settings and geolocation settings (we will cover this in a later tutorial), plus a few more.
Now we are going to explore the desktop as it appears (if you wish to add any other tool bars/windows then that can be done through ‘Window’ on the menu bar).
In the above picture I have highlighted the 3 areas of tool access – the toolbar (1), the tool windows (2) and the large tool set (3).
The toolbar is a collection of basic tools that a customisable by right clicking on the bar itself. I always add the ‘standard views’ buttons that you see on the right side of the toolbar. this allows quick easy access to the different views available.
The tool windows can be added and removed from view through ‘Window’ on the menubar. For me personally, I like to have access to ‘layers’ (for ease of item arrangement on the design), ‘shadow settings’ (to show/hide shadows on your model), ‘styles’ (which gives you the ability to alter the appearance of many aspects of the design, from edge details to the faces), and ‘components’ (giving you access to the vast Google SketchUp components library).
The key to using and producing within SketchUp is knowing how to access the tools you need, when you need them. The ‘large tool set’ makes it possible for you to have all the key tools just one click away. If the large tool set is not visible, it can be added to your screen through the menubar, view>tool palettes>large tool set.
Once you’ve set your screen up, and arranged the tools to best suit you, its time to build! Today we are going to create a really simple detached house with pitched roof. No detailing, we are simply going to use the tool set to quickly and easily create the buildings shape.
1. The first thing I always draw is a large rectangle. I use this as my base or ground. This is a personal choice, and not necessary for the process. To do this you will need to click on the rectangle tool. Your cursor will change to reflect the tool you are currently using.
To draw your ‘ground’, simply click and hold, and drag the tool. As you drag out, black lines will outline the rectangle. Just release the mouse button to set the rectangle at the size you wish. (alternatively, this process can be done by a click before dragging, and a click to finish). If you have a specific size of rectangle you wish to use, simply click once, then type in the lengths of the 2 sides of your rectangle (for example 20000, 20000, making sure to include the comma and the space), then hit ‘enter’. Both these techniques will create a rectangle for you. Now you have mastered the drawing of a rectangle, draw another within the first! This will form the base of your house. Make it 8000mm x 5000mm.
2. Our next step is to use the ‘push/pull’ tool to quite literally pull the house out of the ground. As you remember we have already drawn our base rectangle, which is the object we shall be pulling up.
When you have selected the tool the areas of the model react to it. By placing the tool over any faces on your model, they will become covered by tiny blue dots. This will illustrate that this face can be push/pulled.
Place the tool over your base, and click once. If you move the mouse around you’ll notice that the base rectangle will raise or lower out of itself, creating a 3d object. Type 8000 and hit enter. You’ll now have a basic cube.
The last thing to do is create the pitched roof. This is slightly more difficult, and will require the use of a couple more tools.
We want our pitched roof to have the same sized footprint as the main house. To do this we are going to make a copy of the top of the box, and move it 4000mm above the box. To do this we are going to use the ‘move tool’.
To select the entire roof face, we need to place the move tool over the face (like the push/pull tool, the face will become covered with blue dots, highlighting its ability to be moved). What we want is to create a copy of this face, and not move this one. We do this by pressing the ‘alt’ key on the keyboard. The move cursor will then have a plus sign next to it, clicking on the face now will drag a new copy of it in which ever direction you move. With the mouse positioned directly above the box, type 4000 and hit enter.
You should now have something that looks like this:
To finish off the pitched roof, we are going to divide the new face with a single line across its middle (parallel to the shortest side of the face). To do this we need to use the ‘line’ tool.
Once you have drawn your line across the face, you have effectively split it into 2, and making changes to the face of one side of it will not affect the other. Using the select tool we need to highlight one of the lines parallel to the centre line. This line will have a line the exact same length as it at the top of the box. Once you have selected the line, select the ‘move’ tool and drag the line to the box, creating something that looks like this:
Repeat this process at the opposite end of the pitched roof. You’ll see that you now have a basic looking house with a pitched roof shape, although you can currently see through it!
To close off these faces all we need to do is use the line tool to redraw one of the lines around the open face. Repeat this on the other side, and you will have something that looks like this:
As I said at the beginning, this is a very simple tutorial, but hopefully it has given you a glimpse into the ease of using SketchUp.
Thanks for reading