SketchUp Workflow

By Tom Gillan

The Sketchup workflow follows the same basic pattern each time. We cover all the essential features in our SketchUp courses.

Firstly the Metric template is chosen as a starting point. Then an Autocad drawing could be imported as a basis for building the model – note that this will be a grouped object and used only to trace over or take measurements from. A series of layers could be set up for moving elements of the model to, for example one for vegetation, one for furniture, etc. You could also create a set of Scenes for floorplan visible and hidden, which will assist in the modeling process.

If the model is architectural or for interior design, you would create the exterior walls and group them. This will make it easier to edit in future. Then the interior walls would be built and grouped, again using the cad drawing as a guide. Doors and windows could then be cut out.

We would then create or download window components – components are objects which are used in multiple contexts, even imported into later models. Components can take any shape or size. You could first search in Google’s 3D Warehouse for a suitable window frame, then modify it and resave it as your own version of that component. Similarly with doors and foliage and props like people and cars.

To place the model in a realistic setting, you could either download terrain from Google Earth, or create your own terrain by importing or drawing contour lines, elevating them and using SketchUp’s own Sandbox tools to transform into a 3D terrain object. The Google Earth terrain can vary in accuracy, so it’s possibly best to create your own.

Materials would then be applied to the model. There are libraries of common materials which ship with the program, or you can create your own in an image editing program like Adobe Photoshop. A background photo image or realistic sky image could be applied through the Styles panel.

And Shadows could be turned on through the Shadows panel. Note the time of year and day can be set, as well as the Contrast and Brightness. If the model was for realistic shadow mapping, the geolocation should be set in the Model Info panel. The latitude and longitude values can be added manually or automatically through Google Earth.

Then cameras could be added to the model and various scenes created to allow a transition between cameras. The field of view can be altered for telephoto or wide angle lens views. And finally the final output can either be as a 2d image or a 3d animated video. The former allows various file formats to used, depending on print or web requirements. And the latter has many settings for frame rate and resolution, aspect ratio and compression values. Rendering times will vary depending on materials and lighting and the result will be a short animation which can be viewed by the recipient in either Windows media Player or Quick Time.

In addition plugins and extensions can be downloaded for photo realistic rendering, especially for photometric lighting scenes. This is a typical workflow for architectural or interior design models, but a similar process would be used for town planning or landscape design, or even product design. As always the applications of SketchUp are endless and limited only by our imagination!

Tom Gillan has been training SketchUp to corporate clients in Sydney for seven years. Visit our website for more information:

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