Page T1.1 . 10 July 2013   
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    Getting Started in SketchUp

    by Michael Brightman

    Before you even open SketchUp, you need to understand the core concepts that make it unique. First, SketchUp is a surface modeler that is unlike most 3D modeling programs. Everything in SketchUp is composed of edges and surfaces, the basic building blocks used in SketchUp. A surface cannot exist without a closed loop of coplanar edges, and the simplest surface possible is a triangle.

    Second, because it is a surface modeler, there are no true, perfect vector curves, arcs, or circles in SketchUp. However, you can still represent circles and curves with a series of small edges.

    Third, SketchUp geometry has a tendency to stick together. This concept is known as the "stickiness of geometry" in SketchUp. Adjoining surfaces stick together and move with each other. Connected endpoints will move with each other and stretch their corresponding lines. Even though this can be frustrating at first, once you learn to control the stickiness, you will realize how much it speeds up the modeling process.

    Fourth, geometry does not stack in SketchUp. Only one edge or surface can exist between the same series of points. Even when multiple edges are drawn on top of each other, the edges simply combine into one. When an edge is drawn that intersects or overlaps an existing edge, the existing edge will be broken into two pieces.



    Lastly, the inference engine is the "brain" in SketchUp that is always working for you; it is what assumes meaningful relationships between points, edges, and surfaces. Although you can't turn off the inference engine, you can control it through the power of suggestion. There are several inferences available in SketchUp.

    Leveraging SketchUp

    The five core concepts combine to make SketchUp a fast, fun, and unique 3D modeling program, but using it is not necessarily easy. By embracing and controlling these core concepts, you'll be able to successfully leverage SketchUp into your workflow.   >>>

    Discuss this article in the Architecture Forum...



    This article is excerpted from The Sketchup Workflow for Architecture: Modeling Buildings, Visualizing Design, and Creating Construction Documents with Sketchup Pro and Layout by Michael Brightman, copyright © 2013, with permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons.

    ArchWeek Image

    In this SketchUp object, all of the endpoints (corners or vertices) of the triangle were drawn at the same elevation, as seen along the blue axis, making them coplanar.
    Image: Courtesy John Wiley & Sons

    ArchWeek Image

    Circles and curves are approximated in Sketchup using smoothly segmented polygons. Increasing the number of segments makes a smoother object, but also requires more computing resources to display and store.
    Image: Courtesy John Wiley & Sons


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