SketchUp tutorial

SketchUp Tutorial for 3D Printing Beginners

SketchUp Tutorial

Welcome to All3DP’s SketchUp Tutorial for 3D Printing Beginners on how to make your first 3D model for 3D printing.

SketchUp first came to the spotlight after winning the DigitalCAD Community Choice Award by Digital Media Net at its first trade show. It’s a perfect example of a mix of both simplicity and quality. Since then, the software has been a great help to a lot of users due to its user-friendly interface and short learning time.

This SketchUp tutorial for 3D printing beginners will help you understand the basics. And we will build a simple 3D object while you learn the basic commands, tools, and all the technical know-how to help you visualize your ideas for 3D printing.

SketchUp Tutorial – Lesson 1: The Basic Concepts

In the first lesson of this SketchUp tutorial for 3D printing beginners, you learn to install SketchUp and the basic concepts.


SketchUp Tutorial – Step 1.1: Install

A. Downloading and installing SketchUp

1. To download SketchUp, go to https://www.sketchup.com/download and follow the steps. Fill in the necessary information.

2. After downloading the file, go to your Downloads folder and locate the file.

3. Right-click the installer and select Run as Administrator, follow the steps for installation.

B. SketchUp Make or SketchUp Pro?

Both versions are the same when it comes to basic commands and tools for modeling. SketchUp Make is ideal for beginners while SketchUp Pro is for advanced users. The former provides all the commands you can use for 3D modeling, and the latter provides additional functions like printing in scale or exporting/importing to/from CAD software.

SketchUp Tutorial – Step 1.2: Preparing the Workspace

A. Selecting the appropriate template

SketchUp allows you to select the workspace you want to use from a window that appears when you open the application.

The window shows three tabs: Learn, License, and Template. The Template tab displays a list of different presets to select from. They depend on the type of model you will be doing.

Selecting the Template
Selecting the Template

B. What to use

The presets/templates vary in backgrounds and edge styles – which only affects the visual aspect of your model (i.e. background color and line thickness), type of model to be done (i.e. landscaping, interiors etc.) and measurement systems (English or Metric). I recommend that you explore these templates, but for now, let us use the Simple Template – Meters.

Click the template and then the button Start using SketchUp on the lower right side of the window. I recommend you check the box on the lower left side that says Always show on startup, as this will enable you to select any template every time you open the application.

SketchUp Tutorial – Step 1.3: Basic tools

The developers took the time to invest in developing a user-friendly workspace for this software. The tools in SketchUp are fairly easy to familiarize with. It almost feels like you are drawing on a piece of paper.

A. The toolbars

SketchUp has a lot of commands and tools that you can select from. On your first SketchUp workspace, you will see default toolbars on the upper part of your screen.

1. Click View > Toolbars.

A window will appear with a list of toolbars. For this tutorial, we will use the Large Tool Set. This toolbar contains most of the tools you need to build a 3D model/object.

Click on View > Toolbars
Click on View > Toolbars

2. Check the Large Tool Set. I recommend you uncheck the other toolbars to avoid confusion.

Select “Large Tool Set”
Select “Large Tool Set”

B. The Axis

SketchUp utilizes the Red, Green, and Blue axes in the workspace like any other 3D software. This allows you to view your work from different angles. Also, SketchUp has a snapping feature that helps you align your lines or models along the different axes.

C. Basic 2D drawing commands


Drawing lines

1. To draw a line, first click the pencil symbol on the toolbar or simply press L on your keyboard.

Click the pencil/line icon
Click the pencil/line icon

2. Click anywhere on your screen to assign the first point.

3. Drag the mouse to the desired location of the second point and click.

4. To specify the length (in this case I entered 5), simply type the value right after Step 2 and press Enter.

Creating the line
Creating the line

As you have already noticed, you can align any line to the Red, Green, or Blue axis of the workspace.

Drawing rectangles/squares

1. To draw a rectangle/square, first click the Rectangle icon on the left beside the pencil symbol or simply press R on your keyboard.

Click the rectangle/square icon
Click the rectangle/square icon

2. Click the desired location to assign the first corner of your rectangle/square.

3. Drag the mouse to the desired location for the opposite corner and click.

You can also enter the length and width of your rectangle/square:

* Enter the values after Step 2 and hit Enter on your keyboard.

* This part is a bit tricky. The first value you enter corresponds to the length/width along the Red axis and the second value corresponds to the length/width along the Green Enter both the values separated by a comma “,” and press Enter (i.e. 4, 4).

Enter dimensions as shown
Enter dimensions as shown

Drawing circles

1. To draw a circle, first click the icon below the rectangle icon or simply press C on your keyboard.

Click the Circle icon
Click the Circle icon

2. Click the desired point to assign the midpoint of your circle.

3. Drag the cursor anywhere on the screen to make the circle and then click.

4. To specify the radius (i.e. radius = 2), simply enter the value right after Step 2 and press Enter.

Enter radius and hit “Enter”
Enter radius and hit “Enter”

SketchUp Tutorial – Step 1.4: Movement Controls

A. Pan

1. To use Pan, click the icon or simply press H on your keyboard.

2. Click to set the origin, hold the mouse button and just drag. This will allow you to move your view.

Click “Pan” or press H
Click “Pan” or press H

B. Orbit

1. To use Orbit, click the icon on the toolbar or simply press O on your keyboard.

2. Click anywhere, hold and drag to rotate the whole view.

3. You can also use the mouse wheel to Orbit.

Click “Orbit” or press O or click + hold mouse wheel button
Click “Orbit” or press O or click + hold mouse wheel button

SketchUp Tutorial – Step 1.5: Saving

To save your work, click File > Save or simply press Ctrl + S on your keyboard. Enter the filename and select the directory you want your file to saved in.

SketchUp Tutorial – Lesson 2: Building Your First 3D Object and Moving Objects

In lesson 2 of this Sketchup tutorial for 3D printing beginners, you learn how to build your first 3D object and moving objects.

SketchUp Tutorial – Step 2.1: Making your first object

Here you see the 2D shapes you created in Lesson 1:

Image 1. Circle, Rectangle, Square
Image 1. Circle, Rectangle, Square

A. Converting 2D Shapes to 3D Objects


Making your first 3D Object (the Cylinder)

  1. First zoom in on the circle using your mouse wheel button.

  2. Click the Push/Pull icon on the toolbar or press P on your keyboard.

Image 2. Push/Pull icon on the toolbar

  1. Hover your mouse cursor over the plane of the circle.

  2. When you see the plane highlighted (i.e., when the plane shows a dotted texture on it), click on it and simply drag it upwards. Click the left mouse button again to set the height of your cylinder. Or type the height after the first click.

You will then see the shaped converted into a cylinder. Congratulations! You have created your first 3D object.

Image 3. Pull the surface upward to convert the circle to a cylinder

B. Converting your Square/Rectangle to a 3D object

You can do this by repeating the steps from above on your square or rectangle.

SketchUp Tutorial – Step 2.2: Dimensions and measuring

This feature in SketchUp is very useful especially in presentations if you want to show the dimensions of your model or check the accuracy of your model.

A. Dimension tool

This tool allows you to set the dimensions of your model.

  1. To use this tool, click the Dimension icon on the toolbar.

Image 4. Dimension tool

2. Next: Either click the starting point and then the end point of the line you want to measure. Or simply click the line.

Image 5. Click the start and then the end point of the line
Image 5. Click the start and then the end point of the line
Image 6. Click the line
Image 6. Click the line

3. Drag the cursor perpendicularly with respect to the line. When you reach the desired offset distance, click the left mouse button again.

Image 7. Dimension
Image 7. Dimension

B. Tape Measure Tool

This tool can also be used in two ways.

First is to check for dimensions:

  1. To check for dimensions, click the Tape Measure Tool icon on the toolbar.

Image 8. Tape Measure Tool
Image 8. Tape Measure Tool
  1. Use your left mouse button to click on the start and end point of the line you want to measure. You can see the dimensions on the Measurement toolbar on the lower right side of your SketchUp screen.

Second is to mark distances:

  1. To use this feature, repeat Step 1 above and click the line to which you want to measure the offset.

  2. Drag the cursor or extend the dashed line to the distance you want the mark to be set or simply enter the offset distance.

Image 9. Offset mark from the Tape Measure Tool
Image 9. Offset mark from the Tape Measure Tool

C. Protractor tool

This tool can be used to measure or mark angles.

  1. To use this tool click the Protractor icon on the toolbar.

Image 10. Click on the Protractor tool
Image 10. Click the Protractor tool
  1. Left-click the point where you want the angle’s vertex to be set.

You can also set to what axis you want the mark-up to face by using Left-click + Hold until you the Protractor icon changes color according to the axis. In this case, I recommend you use the Blue axis so the mark-up will be placed on the tip of the cube.

Image 11. Left-Click + Hold to set the vertex of the angle and the direction
Image 11. Left-click + Hold to set the vertex of the angle and the direction
  1. After Step 2, click the line where you want the base/reference line of your angle to be set.

Image 12. Left-click the reference line
Image 12. Left-click the reference line
  1. Enter the value of the angle that you want to be marked-up.

You will then see the dashed line on the surface of the cube.

Image 13. Enter the angle value
Image 13. Enter the angle value

SketchUp Tutorial – Step 2.3: Moving objects

This tool is very easy to use:

  1. Select first the object you want to move. Do this by Left-click + Hold + Drag to completely select the object. Do this on the cube.

Image 14. Left-click + Hold + Drag to select the whole cube
Image 14. Left-click + Hold + Drag to select the whole cube
  1. Click the Move tool or press M on your keyboard.

Image 15. Move tool
Image 15. Move tool
  1. Click the selected object and drag.

  2. Click again when you reached the desired location.

SketchUp Tutorial – Step 2.4: Moving single and multiple objects

A. Single objects

  1. Perform Step 1 to 3 from above.

  2. Press Ctrl on your keyboard to create a copy of the model.

  3. Left-click again to place the copied model to the desired location.

Image 16. Left-click on the model and drag + Ctrl to produce copy
Image 16. Left-click on the model and drag + Ctrl to produce copy

B. Multiple objects

  1. Repeat Step 1 to 5

  2. Enter an asterisk (*) and then the number of copies you want to produce and hit Enter.

Image 17. Enter the value for multiple copies
Image 17. Enter the value for multiple copies

SketchUp Tutorial – Lesson 3: Basic Model Editing

In lesson 3 of this SketchUp tutorial for 3D printing beginners, you learn the basics of editing a 3D model.

SketchUp Tutorial – Step 3.1: Erase tool

A. Basic Eraser

This tool works like a basic eraser: It erases lines or planes you have created. There are two ways to use this tool:

Either:

1. First is to click on the Eraser tool on the toolbar.

Image 1. Eraser icon on the toolbar
Image 1. Eraser icon on the toolbar

2. Once the eraser icon appears, click on the lines you want to erase.

Image 2. Click on the lines you want to erase
Image 2. Click on the lines you want to erase

Or, simply click on any line or plane that you want to erase and hit Delete on your keyboard.

B. Advanced Eraser

This tool is used when you want to eliminate/hide corner lines on your model to achieve a smoother corner termination.

1. For this part, you still need to use the eraser tool. Hence, click the Eraser tool on the toolbar.

2. Once the eraser icon appears, use Shift + Left Mouse Button to erase/hide the lines.

Image 3. Shift + Left Click to hide the lines
Image 3. Shift + Left Click to hide the lines

SketchUp Tutorial – Step 3.2: Text

This tool allows you to calculate areas of planes, place labels, or 3D texts for presentations, i.e. signages.

A. 2D Text

This tool can be used to calculate areas of planes that you have created or place callouts or labels on your model for emphasis/detail.

Calculating Areas

1. To use this tool, click the Text icon on the toolbar.

Image 4. Click the Text icon
Image 4. Click the Text icon

2. Once the icon appears, click on the plane where you want to measure the area.

3. When an icon showing the value of the area appears, extend it to the desired location and click.

Image 5. Extend to a desired location
Image 5. Extend to a desired location

4. Click anywhere to finalize the location.

Placing Labels

1. To use this tool follow Step 1-3 above.

2. After Step 3, simply input the label you want and click to finalize.

Image 6. Input the label and click to finalize.
Image 6. Input the label and click to finalize.

B. 3D Text

This tool can be used to place 3D embossed text on your model, i.e. for signage.

1. To use this tool, click on the 3D Text icon on the toolbar.

Image 7. 3D Text icon
Image 7. 3D Text icon

2. A window will open displaying the settings for the tool.

3. You can then choose which font to use, size of the text and the width or extrusion. For this tutorial, use this setting:

Image 8. Settings for 3D Text tool
Image 8. Settings for 3D Text tool

4. After you input the settings, click Place and place the text to where you want it to be displayed. For this tutorial, place it on the side of the cube.

Image 9. Click Place and put the label on the side of the cube
Image 9. Click Place and put the label on the side of the cube

SketchUp Tutorial – Step 3.3: Basic cut feature

This tool allows you to cut or eliminate a section or a whole part of your model. To show you how to use this tool, we use the cylinder.

1. Click on the Line tool on the toolbar.

2. For this tutorial, make a line on three points on the surface of the cylinder. First, from any point on the edge on the top surface of the cylinder. Second, a point to the center and third, a point across that aligns to the red axis.

Image 10. Make a section/quadrant on the top surface of the cylinder
Image 10. Make a section/quadrant on the top surface of the cylinder

3. Click on the Push/Pull tool on the toolbar

4. Click on one-half of the top surface of the cylinder and push it downwards to create the cut and click to finalize.

Image 11. Push down
Image 11. Push down

SketchUp Tutorial – Step 3.4: Advance Push/Pull: “Follow Me”

This feature in SketchUp allows you to create a model that follows a path that you set. This tool is quite tricky, it might require some patience.

To show you how to use this tool, we use the cube. You will create a roof gutter-like feature on the top sides of the cube:

1. First you need to create a pattern to which you can apply the feature. For this tutorial, create a simple rectangle with one of its corners attached to one corner of the cube.

Image 12. Create a rectangle w/ one corner attached to a corner on the cube
Image 12. Create a rectangle w/ one corner attached to a corner on the cube

2. After creating the rectangle, press the Spacebar on your keyboard and select the four (4) lines surrounding the top plane/surface of the cube. To do this, use Ctrl + Left Mouse Button to select multiple lines. This will be the path.

Image 13. Ctrl + Left Mouse Button to select the four lines w/c encloses the top surface of the cube
Image 13. Ctrl + Left Mouse Button to select the four lines w/c encloses the top surface of the cube

3. The selected lines will serve as the path for our gutter. After selecting the lines, click the Follow Me icon on the toolbar.

Image 14. Follow me icon on the toolbar
Image 14. Follow me icon on the toolbar

4. Once the icon appears, click on the surface of the mini rectangle you created. It will automatically follow the path you have selected.

Image 15. Click on the surface of the rectangle to create the gutter
Image 15. Click on the surface of the rectangle to create the gutter

Note: You can use this tool to follow any pattern you want using any shape you desire. The path does not have to be closed or end on the starting point. But paths should be connected and/or should not have any disconnected joints in between the start and the end of it. Otherwise, the tool will not work accordingly.

SketchUp Tutorial – Lesson 4: Advanced Modeling Tools

In lesson 4 of this SketchUp 3D tutorial for 3D printing beginners, you learn how to use the advanced modeling tools.

SketchUp Tutorial – Step 4.1: Creating solids

Grouping

This tool in SketchUp allows you to create solids and helps prevent unwanted editing. To create solids, you need to convert the 3D models into groups or components. In this part of the tutorial, we will focus on grouping since components are a bit more complicated – we’ll tackle components in part 5.

1. Open the file you created in part 3 tutorial.

2. To create a group, select the model you want to convert and click the Right Mouse Button to open the Model Options window, and click Create Group. Use this feature on both the cylinder and the rectangular box.

Image 1. Right click after selection and click Create Group
Image 1. Right click after selection and click Create Group

SketchUp Tutorial – Step 4.2: Advance Cut Feature

Subtract

This tool is used to cut portions of your model using other models. For this tutorial, we will use the cylinder and the rectangular box.

1. First go to View > Toolbars > Solid Tools. It will make the Solid Tools toolbar appear in your workspace.

Image 2. Solid Tools toolbar
Image 2. Solid Tools toolbar

2. To show you how to use this feature: First intersect the cylinder using the rectangular box or vice versa.

3. Move the rectangular box towards the cylinder. Connect its corner to the center of the cylinder.

Image 3. Intersection of rectangular box and cylinder
Image 3. Intersection of rectangular box and cylinder

4. To cut the rectangular box using the cylinder: First click the Subtract icon on the Solid Tools toolbar.

Image 4. Click the Subtract icon on the Solid Tools toolbar
Image 4. Click the Subtract icon on the Solid Tools toolbar

5. To subtract the cylinder from the rectangular box, first click the cylinder.

Image 5. Click the cylinder box first
Image 5. Click the cylinder box first

6. Then click the second model, i.e. the cylinder.

Image 6. Click the cylinder next
Image 6. Click the cylinder next

After which you can then see the rectangular subtracted by the cylinder quadrant.

Image 7. Result
Image 7. The result

SketchUp Tutorial – Step 4.3: Scaling

This tool allows you to adjust your model accordingly or to the desired scale.

1. To use this tool, select your model first and press S on your keyboard. It will show you the different scaling points you can use.

Image 8. Select the model and press S on your keyboard
Image 8. Select the model and press S on your keyboard

2. For this tutorial, we will scale our model down while maintaining the ratio and proportion of our rectangular box. This is called uniform scaling. To do this: Click on one of the eight corner points of the rectangular box.

Image 9. Click on the corner point shown in this image
Image 9. Click on the corner point shown in this image

3. Drag the corner diagonally to the desired scale value or fill in the desired value, which you can see on the lower right corner of the window. For this tutorial, type 0.50 which means you will be scaling your model down to 50%.

Image 10. Enter scale value
Image 10. Enter scale value

SketchUp Tutorial – Step 4.4: Advanced Maneuvering

Rotating an Object

This feature is very useful when you experience orientation issues. It is when you have your model facing the opposite/wrong direction.

1. First select the model you want to rotate and press Q on your keyboard.

2. You can then select which axis you want your model to rotate. For this tutorial, use the blue axis.

Image 11. Use the blue axis for rotation
Image 11. Use the blue axis for rotation

3. Click on the center of the top surface of the rectangular box to set your axis.

4. Extend your cursor towards the green or red axis to select the baseline of rotation. For this tutorial, use the green axis as the baseline, which is along the longer side of the model. When you see the green line, click to set the baseline.

Image 12. Setting the baseline
Image 12. Setting the baseline

5. Rotate the model to the desired direction or simply input an angle value. In this case, enter 30°.

Image 13. Rotate to 30°
Image 13. Rotate to 30°

Sketchup Tutorial – Lesson 5: Advanced Features

You are close to the end of this SketchUp 3D tutorial for 3D printing beginners. In lesson 5, you will learn some advanced features that are very useful for 3D modeling and presentations.

SketchUp Tutorial – Step 5.1: Paint Bucket tool

This feature in SketchUp allows you apply color or different material finishes on your model.

1. To use this tool, click the Paint Bucket icon on the toolbar or simply press B on your keyboard. This will open the material window in SketchUp.

Image 1. Paint bucket tool
Image 1. Paint bucket tool
Image 2. Material window in SketchUp
Image 2. Material window in SketchUp

2. For this tutorial, you will use the cube. Select Colors Named from the subfolders displayed on the material window and click 0062_OliveDrab.

Image 3. Selecting the material
Image 3. Select the material

3. Once the Paint Bucket icon appears, click on the surface, you want to apply the selected material to.

Image 4. Applying the selected material to the surface.
Image 4. Apply the selected material to the surface

You now have applied a material on your model. Do this for the rest of the model if desired.

SketchUp Tutorial – Step 5.2: Component feature

Understanding Components

The component feature is one way of converting your 3D object into a solid model. If you plan to have multiple similar objects in your model, convert one to a component and use it to make multiple similar objects. This way, you will only need to edit one object, and the changes will apply to all similar components.

Converting an object to a component

1. First select the entire object you want to convert. In this case: the cube. Upon selecting the whole object (including the 3D text), you will notice that the 3D text is already in a group state. This is an automatic feature of the 3D text tool. We will include the 3D text in the cube component.

Image 5. Select the object (cube)
Image 5. Select the object (cube)

2. Right-click the selection and select Make Component from the drop-down menu.

Image 6. Select Make Component from the drop-down menu
Image 6. Select Make Component from the drop-down menu

3. A window will then appear which shows the properties of the component you want to make. Rename the component to “Model 2” and click Create.

Image 7. Change component name to Model 2 and click create
Image 7. Change component name to Model 2 and click create

Editing components

1. Now you have a component. Create three copies of it and do some editing. Do this by applying Step 4 on the 2. part of this tutorial.

Image 8. Three (3) similar components
Image 8. Three (3) similar components

2. Double-click the center component to edit it.

Image 9. Component Edit mode
Image 9. Component Edit mode

3. Click the 3D text “CUBE” and press Delete on your keyboard. You can see that the 3D text on the other two cube components have also been deleted.

Image 10. Click on “CUBE” and hit delete on your keyboard
Image 10. Click on “CUBE” and hit delete on your keyboard

This feature is very useful when you have multiple similar objects. You don’t have to edit all of them one by one. The changes made on one component will also be applied to all similar components.

Make Unique feature.

Having similar components is very advantageous when you are editing multiple objects, but this can also be difficult when you want a single or some components to be a bit or slightly different from the others. The “Make Unique” feature will allow you to edit a similar component w/o editing the others in the process.

1. Select the component in the middle and right-click to open the drop-down menu.

2. Select Make Unique. You now have a component that is different from the two.

Image 11. Select make unique on the drop-down menu
Image 11. Select make unique on the drop-down menu

3. Double-click to edit the component.

4. Use the Push/Pull tool to pull the gutter up to make it taller. See how the two other components are not affected by the changes.

Image 12. Use Push/Pull to pull the gutter up
Image 12. Use Push/Pull to pull the gutter up

SketchUp Tutorial: Lesson 6 – Saving and Exporting

The basic features in SketchUp do not provide a 3D printable file format. However, SketchUp has a free extension which converts your files to a 3D printing file format. In lesson 6 of this SketchUp tutorial, you learn how to use it.

SketchUp Tutorial – Step 6.1: Download and install the extension

For SketchUp 2013 or higher

1. Go to Window > Extension Warehouse to open the Extension Warehouse window.

Image 1. Window > Extension Warehouse
Image 1. Window > Extension Warehouse

2. You will need to sign in using your Google account

3. Go to the search bar and type in “SketchUp STL”

Image 2. Search for SketchUp STL
Image 2. Search for SketchUp STL

4. You will see a list of extensions that can convert SKP files to 3D printable. Click on the search option SketchUp STL by SketchUp Team and click Install

Image 3. Select the first search option and click install
Image 3. Select the first search option and click install

5. Wait for the installation to finish and close the Extension Warehouse window.

For SketchUp 8 or earlier

1. Open your web browser and use this link to search for the extension: https://extensions.sketchup.com/en/content/sketchup-stl

2. Sign in using your Google account and click Download.

3. After downloading the file, go to your SketchUp application and select Preferences > Extensions.

4. Select Install Extension

Image 4. Window > Preferences > Extensions > Install Extension
Image 4. Window > Preferences > Extensions > Install Extension

5. Locate the downloaded file and click Ok

SketchUp Tutorial – Step 6.2: Export to STL

We are finally nearing the end of our tutorial. After installing the extensions, exporting the model to STL will be a walk in the park. Before you can export an object to STL, you should first make the object solid. You can convert the object to a group or a component. For this part we will use the cube model on the middle.

1. First select the component on the middle.

Image 5. Click the model on the middle to select
Image 5. Click the model on the middle to select

2. Go to File > Export to STL

Image 6. File > Export to STL
Image 6. File > Export to STL

3. You will then see the STL Export Options window. Check the Export selected geometry only option.

4. Select Meters for the Export unit since we are using meters on our model

5. Use Binary for the File format, for a smaller file size.

6. Click on Export and save your file to a desired location.

Image 7. STL Export Options
Image 7. STL Export Options

Congratulations on completing our SketchUp Tutorial for 3D Printing Beginners!