Tips & Tricks

If it took five steps to create a rectangle in Sketchup, I don’t think anyone would use the program. In general, Sketchup is a great performer. It’s fast, and it allows you to do more drawing and less “figuring out how to draw.” But what about when you are pushing it to the limits? What are some things you can do to make Sketchup run faster? And what are things you can learn that will make it easier to create in Sketchup? These tutorials reveal some of the best tips & tricks you can use to make a better model.


Have you ever inserted a bunch of section cuts in your model and saved scenes for an aligned view of each section cut? Do the section cuts seem to change after you’ve saved a scene? Do the section plane objects appear over your model even though you’ve turned them off? This article will show you how to properly save section cuts in scenes for SketchUp so you can assign those scenes to viewports in LayOut, (Or simply view the scenes in SketchUp.) Section cuts allow you to “slice” through your model in order to hide parts of your model, or to create a cross section view. To insert a section cut, you use the Section tool. Holding SHIFT will lock orientation as you place your section plane. Once it’s placed, you can use the Move tool to change its position.

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How can you become faster at modeling? In this article, I highlight the keyboard shortcuts I use most often, and demonstrate how helpful they are in saving time while modeling. You can also download my custom keyboard shortcuts at the bottom of this article, and import them into your SketchUp.

I have always been a strong advocate for using keyboard shortcuts. They are a tremendous time saver, enabling you to get your ideas modeled more quickly. They reduce the friction between the design and the software. Modeling becomes more fluid and natural.

Many people are intimidated with the idea of having to remember a ton of keyboard shortcuts, but I assure you, the majority of them are obvious and easy to remember. Start out with a few simple ones, like Spacebar, P, and R. Then build on from there.

Default Keyboard Shortcuts

SketchUp has a number of keyboard shortcuts configured by default. You can also add your own, custom keyboard shortcuts by going to Window -> Preferences -> Shortcuts. Below are some of my most frequently used keyboard shortcuts. By tapping the designated key, you’ll activate that tool without having to select it from a menu or toolbar.

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SketchUp Styles are what affect the visual appearance and representation of your models. In this article, I’ll address some of the most common misconceptions with how styles work.

In SketchUp, you can make your model look hand drawn, painted, light or bold, and anywhere in between. Styles are what transform your model into something more than a bunch of edges and faces. SketchUp wouldn’t be SketchUp without them.

But have you ever had the refresh symbol appear over the thumbnail in the Styles window? Or, have you ever gone to save a scene, and had a pop up appear asking if you want to save changes to your style? You probably got sick of it and checked off the “Do not show me this again” checkbox.

Until you understand some fundamental characteristics of how styles work, you’ll swear that they change settings randomly, don’t save changes after you’ve updated them, and don’t stick to your scenes when you save them. I want to clear up some of the confusion around how styles work.

Styles are copied to the current SketchUp model file.

When you browse through the Style window, you are looking at a list of styles that are saved on your computer, whether they are the default SketchUp styles, or ones you’ve customized or downloaded.

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Any time there is a new major release of SketchUp, a rush of fear and panic overcomes you at the thought of having to reinstall plugins, reconfigure settings, and just get everything up to speed on the new version without missing a beat. In this article, I’ll show you how to to make upgrading painless.

One important thing to note about upgrading to a new version of SketchUp, is that you can install it along side of any existing installations of SketchUp you may have. This allows you to test drive the new version, and get all your settings configured at your leisure, but still go back to your previous version to continue working if you’ve got projects that you’re currently working on.

SketchUp 2014 and SketchUp 2015 can be installed at the same time on your computer.

When you install SketchUp 2015, there are actually many settings that will be migrated over from 2014 automatically. Things like keyboard shortcuts, folder preferences, and system preferences will transfer over to 2015.

Migrating to a new version

This is a long article, so I’ve broken it down into sections. For most people, you’ll want to know how to migrate your plugins. If you haven’t done any customizing of materials, components, styles, templates, or scrapbooks, that’s all you need to do. The installation will take care of installing the default libraries, and you’ll be good to go.

But, if you have custom files you need to migrate over, you’ll want to check out the other sections as well.

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If you’re a professional SketchUp user, access to pre-made models is critical for efficient modeling. Don’t waste time modeling objects that are secondary to the design you’re working on. Finding high quality, low polygon models can be challenging, unless you’re …

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When creating a model for 3D printing, there are several things you must keep in mind in order to be able to print successfully, especially when using a desktop printer. This article highlights some of the things to look out …

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Materials are what allow you to apply an image to the surfaces in your model. Here are some tricks for working with materials in SketchUp. SketchUp Materials & Textures If you’ve ever used the Paint Bucket tool (B) in SketchUp, …

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The freedom and flexibility of the various tools in SketchUp are what make it so awesome for modeling. The tools don’t hinder the creative process, and they give you many different ways to manipulate objects. In this article, I’ll go …

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Do you feel like you’ve missed out on the SketchUp 3D Basecamp 2014? I’ve just returned from teaching my first live class at Basecamp, and in this article you’ll learn some of the tips I’ve picked up from the best SketchUp gurus in the world.

If you’re a SketchUp geek like me, 3D Basecamp is the place to be. It is held on a bi-annual basis, and you’ll find some of the best SketchUp users in the world at the conference.

During the opening presentation by John Bacus, SketchUp Product Manager, we learned about the new SketchUp model viewer for the ipad, available here, a new Ruby Debugger plugin, and an extension that can process 3D point cloud data from Trimble 3D scanners.

The conference is made up of a number of presentations and instructional sessions, including some hands-on classes as well. I had the honor of being asked to teach an “Introduction to LayOut” 3-hour class, based on my book, SketchUp to LayOut. It was the first time I had taught live, in person, to a large audience. I was nervous at first, but once I started, everything just fell into place.

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Have you ever been confused about the differences between Smooth, Soft and Hidden Edges? So have I! This article will give you a complete explanation of each edge type, and some examples of places to use them.

Sketchup Edges

An edge is any line segment in Sketchup. It can exist as a single element in a model, or it can be connected to other edges at intersecting points. When you have at least three edges connecting on the same plane, you can have a face. These are the core building blocks of every model in Sketchup.

Everything in Sketchup is either an edge or a face (Except for extra stuff like construction guides, floating text, dimensions, etc). I’m just talking about the geometry here. Even circles and arcs are actually made up of segmented lines (edges). There are no curved surfaces in Sketchup. But Sketchup does provide a few clever tools to give the illusion of a curved or smooth surface.

An edge can be in either one of three states

  1. Visible – This is the regular state of every edge. Self explanitory.
  2. Hidden – You can’t see the edge, and no edge styles will be applied to it while hidden.
  3. Soft – Same as Hidden, but adjoining faces will be selected as one

(If an edge is selected to be both Hidden and Soft, it will act as if it’s soft.)


But what about Smooth?? Smoothing technically doesn’t do anything to the edge, it affects the appearance of faces that are connected to the edge. We’ll talk about that in a little bit.

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