SketchUp 1:1 Foundations

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2D Model

A two-dimensional geometric object that is usually flat in nature such as a drawing on paper. These are often used in 2D computer graphics and technical diagrams

3D Model

A three-dimensional geometric object that is created as a mathematical representation of an object's different surfaces. These constructions are essential to computer graphics and often use a series of meshed polygons and color shaders to create a three-dimensional (lifelike) effect.


A mathematical position of a point in a given space such as on a computer screen.


A display grid, usually on a computer or television, that determines position based on X/Y coordinates for 2D images with an optional Z coordinate used for 3D images.

X Coordinate

The horizontal coordinate that determines pixel placement on a computer screen.

Y Coordinate

The vertical coordinate that determines pixel placement on a computer screen

Z Coordinate

The 3D coordinate that determines pixel placement on a computer screen.


A set of settings & configurations for a model's background and measurement.

Title Bar

A toolbar within SketchUp that shows the name of the file as well as selections for Minimize, Maximize, and Close.

Menu Bar

Area at the top in SketchUp where the main tools are stored within the following menus: SketchUp (on Mac), File, Edit, View, Camera, Draw, Tools, Window, and Help.

Status Bar

The bottom gray bar in SketchUp is called the status bar. This bar is a useful feature, on the left, it includes the geolocation, credits of the component, and in the middle-left hand side, it shows a description of the tool you are using. On the right side of the status bar is the measurements box which is very helpful to input precise measurements for your model.

The Getting Started Toolbar

The main toolbar you see in SketchUp on the Mac and most widely used in Windows. On the Mac, you can add tools to this toolbar

Drawing Area/Workspace

It is also known as the Drawing Area or Workspace. This is the area in SketchUp where the 3D model is created.

Measurements Box

A small box on the Status Bar that displays the model's measurements. You can also view the measurements of the object you are drawing. The number you see in the measurements box could be in inches, degrees, or number of sides depending on the tool you are drawing with.

Human Scale Figure

This human figure could be male or female and is helpful to compare the size to your model. This is a good feature to use when you don’t have precise measurements available to input.


An inference is an area where your cursor point is fixed on the screen that aids in drawing lines and other shapes.


Plural name for the X, Y, and Z coordinates or axis lines that are represented by red, green, and blue lines.


The center point where the three lines in the axes converge and is often used for manipulation of the model.

Wireframe Model

A skeletal or edge only 3D model that doesn't contain surfaces.

Surface Model

A more complex 3D model that includes filled in surfaces stretched between the edges of the model, however, if the model were cut in half, it would only be a thin surface layer.

Solid Model

A complex 3D model with volume that includes filled in surfaces between the edges of the model, and if the model were cut in half it would be a completely solid (filled) layer.

Shell Model

A 3D model, that is also known as a boundary model, used primarily in the gaming and entertainment industry and is more concerned with defining boundaries rather than volume.

3D Warehouse

A shared library of 3D models that are available for download. Users may also upload 3D models to share with the library.

A well-made model has the following features:

1) Should be scaled to "real world" size
2) The model should have a common-sense origin. Most designers do the lower left hand corner
3) The model must contain proper face orientation. Face orientation refers to the shading and coloring of the model. The standard dictates that the inside or underneath of a model is usually a darker grayish color compared to the outside facing color.
4) Other positive aspects to a good model include minimizing the number of geometric shapes, minimizing image sizes, removing unused layers and components, ensuring your model has consistent sizes, shapes, styles, and titles, removing the guides used in constructing your model and using the correct metadata.

Materials Panel

The Materials panel uses the Paint Bucket tool () to add detail and realism to your models. Materials are various colors and textures that can be applied to any object (Figure 9). You can replace, edit, and even calculate how much material you need. For example, SketchUp can tell you the area of all the shingles on a roof. On a Mac, the Materials panel is labeled “Colors”.

Components Panel

A component is an object that can be reused whenever needed. The Components panel allows you to create your own object and add it to a component collection. You can also use a pre-built model, such as furniture, fixtures, landscapes, cars, and fencing

Styles Panel

The Styles panel allows you to select color styles, assorted styles, photo modeling, etc. or edit and create your own style (Figure 11). Each predefined style represents a collection of specific settings for the edges, faces, and background.

Scenes Panel

Creating scenes with the Scenes panel helps you save different angles or rendering styles of the model (Figure 12). When you create a scene, a tab appears at the top of the drawing area, so you can click the tab to display the saved view.

Shadows Panel

The Shadows panel adds shadows to your objects. You can calculate real-world shadows based on time zone, time of day, or date. The light slider controls the light’s intensity while the dark intensity controls the shadow’s intensity. The “Use sun for shading” checkbox shades parts of your model even if shadows are toggled off. The “On faces” checkbox enables faces to cast shadows on other faces. The “On ground” checkbox enables your geometry to cast shadows on the ground plane. The “From edges” checkbox controls whether edges that are not associated with a face cast a shadow

Match Photo Panel

The Match Photo panel will allow you to match a photo with your existing model (Figure 14). Applying a photo with Match Photo is much easier than drawing that detail and applying materials to individual elements.

(BIM) Building Information Modeling

A Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility. A BIM is a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life-cycle; defined as existing from earliest conception to demolition. A basic premise of BIM is [a] collaboration by different stakeholders at different phases of the life cycle of a facility to insert, extract, update or modify information in the BIM to support and reflect the roles of that stakeholder.”