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SketchUp to Blender: How to Import SketchUp Files in Blender

Picture of Lucas Carolo
by Lucas Carolo
Nov 8, 2019
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Although SketchUp is very popular and user-friendly, it lacks good renders. Converting SketchUp to Blender is a popular option, so follow along as we show you how to make the conversion!

SketchUp to Blender Why Use SketchUp With Blender?

An architectural model in SketchUp
An architectural model in SketchUp (Source: ARQMEM via 3D Warehouse)

SketchUp, by Trimble, is a 3D modeling software that offers a great variety of features and tools. It is used for several applications but is most popular in architecture, civil engineering, and interior design. A versatile tool, SketchUp also has an online library of free models from user contributions made available in the 3D Warehouse. The modeling software can also be further enhanced by a vast number of third-party plug-ins.

Blender, on the other hand, is an open-source software used by a wide array of professionals and hobbyists. It not only supports 3D modeling, but also can be used in fields like animation, simulation, rendering, sculpting, visual effects, and game creation.

Due to the more architectural focus of the application, it is common for SketchUp users to use Blender to render their models. Although there are a few SketchUp plug-ins for rendering, none of them are as powerful as Blender. SketchUp can also be very handy in making buildings and structures for games, and Blender can be very useful for the final conversion.

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SketchUp to Blender Compatibility Issues

Blender's options for file import: no compatibility with SketchUp files (SKP)
Blender's options for file import: no compatibility with SketchUp files (SKP) (Source: Lucas Carolo via All3DP)

Although free software, Blender is not a tool designed for casual hobbyists. A beginner might feel overwhelmed by all its features and tools, especially after the 2.8 release. If you’re just starting with the software, don’t worry – there are plenty of Blender tutorials out there. Just be aware that, once you become familiar with Blender, there’s no coming back from the tantalizingly powerful features.

Transferring files from SketchUp to Blender can be challenging. The SketchUp Pro (paid) version can export files that are compatible with Blender, and the models available through 3D Warehouse can also be downloaded in a friendly format for Blender. The issues arise with the free, online version of SketchUp, which outputs only its native format (SKP), which Blender is not able to import directly. However, there are workarounds that we’ll explain in detail later on.

So, without further ado, let’s see exactly how to import SketchUp files in Blender!

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1

SketchUp to Blender SketchUp Pro to Blender

Exporting Blender compatible files from SketchUp Pro
Exporting Blender compatible files from SketchUp Pro (Source: Lucas Carolo via All3DP)

For the paid versions of SketchUp, the process is very straightforward:

  1. Open your model in SketchUp Pro.
  2. Go to “File”, then “Export”, and finally “3D Model…”.
  3. Choose “COLLADA File (*.dae)” from the drop-down list.
  4. You can change the file name at the top of the window and choose the export file location.
  5. Click “Export”.

Note that, according to the SketchUp official website, some features of your model, like coordinate lines, rendering options, section planes, and text won’t be present in the Collada file as they are not supported.

For more advanced users, SketchUp Pro provides extra export options for DAE files. Click the “Options” button right next to the drop-down list in the export window. For a more detailed explanation of these options, check SketchUp export instructions.

Export window from SketchUp Pro. For more control over the export file, click the
Export window from SketchUp Pro. For more control over the export file, click the "Options" button next to the drop-down list. (Source: Lucas Carolo via All3DP)

To import the files to Blender,

  1. Go to “File”, “Import”, and then select “Collada (Default) (.dae)”.
  2. Browse the folders to find the exported file from SketchUp.
  3. Click twice on the file to import.
Import the Collada (.dae) file to Blender
Import the Collada (.dae) file to Blender (Source: Lucas Carolo via All3DP)

You should be all set. The model will be imported with the correct dimensions and texture (if it had any).

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SketchUp to Blender 3D Warehouse to Blender

Download 3D Warehouse models already in Collada (DAE) files
Download 3D Warehouse models already in Collada (DAE) files (Source: Lucas Carolo via All3DP)

The community platform 3D Warehouse is a great source of different models, from regular objects to furniture, vehicles, and houses. The designs are created by SketchUp users and thus consist of a great source for free models.

You can browse their models or use the search bar at the top to find suitable models. Once you find a suitable model:

  1. Click the “Download” button on the lower right.
  2. From the drop-down list, select “Collada File”.
  3. Unzip the downloaded file on your computer.
  4. In Blender, go to “File”, “Import”, and then select “Collada (Default) (.dae)”.
  5. Select the .dae file located at the unzipped folder.
  6. Click twice to import.

Although the downloaded file from 3D Warehouse has a separate texture file, the model in the Collada format will already bring the texture with it – no need for any extra steps.

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SketchUp to Blender SketchUp Free (SKP) to Blender

SketchUp Online (Free)
SketchUp Online (Free) (Source: Lucas Carolo via All3DP)

This is the tricky one. On the free version of SketchUp, all of the export options are all blocked except the SKP format. As mentioned before, there are workarounds, but they take some effort.

The easiest way doesn’t require any extra software. We need to upload our model to the 3D Warehouse platform and then download it in the Collada (.dae) format, since we can’t export the model directly. Once that’s done, it’s just a matter of importing the file to Blender, as we did previously. Let’s go through the required steps:

  1. In SketchUp online, open your model.
  2. Click on the menu icon on the upper left corner.
  3. Go to “3D WAREHOUSE”.
  4. Indicate whether you want the model to be “Public” (available for everyone) or “Private”.
  5. Select a title and fill in a description. The mandatory fields and will be important later.
  6. Click “Upload”.
  7. Once the upload is done, go to the 3D Warehouse website.
  8. At the top search bar, type in the title of your model. If you uploaded it as a private model, you need to be logged in.
  9. Once you find your model, click on the “Download” button on the model page.
  10. From the drop-down list, select “Collada File”.
  11. Unzip the downloaded file.
  12. In Blender, go to “File”, “Import”, and then select “Collada (Default) (.dae)”.
  13. Select the .dae file located at the unzipped folder.
  14. Click twice to import.
Upload the model to 3D Warehouse
Upload the model to 3D Warehouse (Source: Lucas Carolo via All3DP)
Download the model in 3D Warehouse in Collada (DAE) format
Download the model in 3D Warehouse in Collada (DAE) format (Source: Lucas Carolo via All3DP)

Alternative Approach

There is another workaround to get your models from the free version of SketchUp to Blender. There is an add-on for Blender that allows native SketchUp files to be imported directly. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, this add-on hasn’t been updated for Blender 2.8 yet.

As such, to take this approach, you’ll need the older 2.79 release of Blender. Luckily, all Blender versions are still available for download. Note that you can have two or more versions of the software installed in your machine at the same time. With the add-on, you can import  SketchUp files directly at “File”, “Import”. Note that the add-on only works for the 2017 SketchUp files.

(Lead image source: Lucas Carolo via All3DP)

License: The text of "SketchUp to Blender: How to Import SketchUp Files in Blender" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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