When you open SketchUp, you will see a welcome box. This box is the central location for creating your 3D model. It will appear each time that you start the program. In the welcome box, you can choose a template, license your copy of SketchUp Pro, or learn more about the program. Here is a brief overview of how to use SketchUp to get started with 3D printing.
Choose a Template
All of the models in SketchUp use templates. You will want to choose a template that has the correct unit of measurement.
Look at the top of the welcome box to find the default template field. It will tell you the name of the selected template. If you want to change it, click on “choose a template,” or use the arrow next to the template tab to open a list of templates. You can then scroll until you find the template that you want and click on it to start using SketchUp.
The SketchUp Interface
A screen will appear that contains the following links:
- Title bar
- Menu bar
- Getting started bar
- Drawing area
- Status bar
- Measurements box
- Default panels
You can name your work in the title bar. It also contains regular window controls. When you save your work, your title will appear the next time you open it.
You can find most of the tools, settings, and commands in the menu bar. The getting started toolbar is the default bar that you see when you start SketchUp. It contains basic tools to start creating your 3D models.
Click on view and then on toolbars to see more toolbars. Choose the toolbars that you want and click on close. In macOS, you can see the toolbars by clicking on view and then on tool palettes.
Create your 3D model in the drawing area. It will be easily identified by its drawing axes, which can help you to understand the direction as you work.
The two key elements on your status bar are the measurements box to the right and the tips in the middle. In the middle part of the status bar, you can click on the question mark to show the instructor window. Here, you can find basic instructions for the selected tool so you can learn how it works.
The measurements box is crucial for accuracy. It shows the dimensions while you draw and can be used to create evenly spaced fencing, columns, or housing blocks or to manipulate entities that you have selected.
If you use the Windows operating system and enable auto-hide, your measurements box will slip behind your taskbar when it is displayed. When you finish, it will appear in the taskbar.
The right side of your screen will contain several panels in the default tray. It appears when you open SketchUp. You can close the default tray by clicking on close in its upper right.
How to Use the SketchUp Tools
The instructor and status bar can teach you to use the tools; select window and then an instructor in the default tray to open instructor.
The instructor offers the following:
- Animation to demonstrate how to use the tool
- Explanation of what the tool does
- Steps to use the tool
- Keys to allow the tool to do additional things
- Link to help center articles
Quick Reference Card
The SketchUp reference card is a printable guide to all of the various tools and their keys. Keep the guide handy while you work.
Building a 3D Model Using SketchUp
To create a 3D model using SketchUp, follow these steps:
- Choose the person, click your selection, and select “erase” in the context menu
- Select the rectangle tool in your getting started toolbar
- On your ground plane, click the rectangle cursor. Move it to the right, and click it again.
- On the getting started toolbar, choose the push/pull tool and place the cursor above the rectangle you created.
- Drag the rectangle into a 3D shape. Release it when the shape is approximately five feet tall.
- Type 6′ and press enter. You’ll notice that your shape’s height changed to six feet tall.
- Next, select orbit. Move the orbit cursor over your shape and click and hold as you move your mouse down.
- Then, click on the zoom extents button. It helps you to orient yourself.
- Click the paint bucket. A panel will appear that allows you to choose colors from a drop-down menu. Choose a color.
- Apply your color by clicking on your model with the paint bucket cursor.
- Close materials and select window and then styles from the default tray; then, select sketchy edges to choose a style option.
Saving Your Model
After you have finished working on your model, save it by selecting the file tab, and then save. You can name your model when you save it. It will have an extension of .skp. You can reopen your model later after you have saved it.
SketchUp will create a backup file after you have saved your model for the second time. It is an exact copy of the version that you previously saved. SketchUp has an autosave feature that works every five minutes while you are working.