Ready, set... Maker Bench

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 12.39.41 PM.png
Maker Bench is going to be an open source, CNC workbench for everyone. Sounds fun, right? Well, then, help us design a Maker Bench!

At SketchUp HQ, we spend a lot of time thinking about how SketchUp works, and trying to make it work much or even just a bit better. Over the years, we’ve found that SketchUp users think a lot about how SketchUp works too.

This got us thinking: It’s fun to think about how something works, especially when that something is used to make other somethings. We call this circular design task meta-making -- making the things that people use for making.

So, we thought it would be great to spin up a new meta-making project with the SketchUp and maker communities: it’s called Maker Bench, and it’s a CNC workbench for everyone.

(What’s that? You’re ready to start designing your own maker bench now? Jump into the SketchUp Forums to get going. Otherwise, read on!).

Along with Eric Schimelpfenig at SketchThis.net, we’ve been kicking the idea of a Maker Bench around for a few years now. In that time, we’ve built WikiHouses, Open Desks, geodomes, modirondack chairs, skpr bots, and lots of other things too. As part-time makers, we always seem to find ourselves retrofitting work spaces, jigs, and tools in new environments. What if it were really, really easy to design and build our own workspace, and then bring it with us?

Last year, we came across Ron Paulk’s phenomenal workbench. We were impressed (not to mention full of desire), and we wondered what Ron’s project would look like if designed for makers, not professional carpenters.

06a6376a8d93cf3f.jpg
Maker Bench: standing or sitting? You decide!

Our curiosity with this idea came to a point this past December, and we started asking ourselves, “what do makers need in a work bench?” Well, here are a few starting ideas:

Accessibility: A Maker Bench should be accessible to anyone who makes anything. That means it should be simple to construct and be fabricatable using tools that are commonly accessible at a makerspace or TechShop. Further, Maker Benches should require an economical amount of material and minimal hardware.

Portability: A Maker Bench should fit easily in your car.

Storability: Maker Benches should work well in environments where there may not be a lot of space (a garage, a worksite, a shop, or a makerspace). Ideally, it should be easy to break down and store one or many Benches.

Modularity: People have different workspace requirements or constraints. Maker Benches should be modular so that you have control over how much space you need.

Retrofittability’: Along with modularity for dimensional workspace, a Maker Bench should be modular enough to accommodate specialized use cases. A few that came to mind right away were drawing, CNC work, soldering, and 3D printing.

d9c25f99b50869c1.jpg
The top of each Maker Bench is removable and customizable. We’ve designed this one for use with ShopBot’s Handibot.

As we mentioned before, we’re only part-time makers, so another requirement for the project is that the designs for Maker Bench should be open for anyone to customize.

With that in mind, our first major step in actually making a Maker Bench is to ask you for help. What should a Maker Bench look like? What else should it be able to do (or help people do)? How can we make it better?

Jump into the SketchUp forums, and join our Maker Bench conversation. Tell us what you want to see in a Maker Bench. Better yet, download the starter-models and start tinkering. We hope to spend the next two months modifying the design, and then fabricate our first set of prototypes at Maker Faire Bay Area in May.

Along the way, we’ll share our conceptual and as-built models, our good ideas, our bad ideas, our cutting files, and our build photos. Please, join us! We’re aiming to meta-make a workspace that’s practical and useful for people who tinker and build, and we’re planning to have some fun while we’re at it.


Permalink | Links to this post | 0 comments

SketchUp Multi-Tool Personalities: Part One

Did you know that many SketchUp tools have alter egos? You might think you know your SketchUp tools pretty well, but many have supplemental functions revealed in the status bar at the bottom of the SketchUp window that most folks don’t notice.

flat_pack-02-01.jpg
What’s that? The Eraser tool leads a secret life as a quick way to hide or soften/smooth geometry!
Keep an eye on the status bar for other modifications on standard tools.

The information in this status bar changes when different tools are selected. For example, when the Eraser tool is selected, you’ll see two key modifier hints in the status bar: hold Shift to hide edges instead of erasing them, or hold Option (Ctrl on PC) to Soften/Smooth edges. All of sudden, one tool gives you access to three.

However, there are a handful of tool abilities that are not communicated via the SketchUp interface. If you didn’t know about these extra options – it’s kind of like finding a $20 bill at the bottom of your drier. Take a look at the Arc tool, for instance. There’s a useful hidden feature here that was introduced in SketchUp 2015: you can automatically trim corners with the Arc tool by double-clicking immediately after drawing an arc. Here’s how:

  1. Select the Arc tool and click on one edge of a corner to start drawing an arc.

  2. Hover your cursor over to the adjacent edge; notice the “Tangent to Edge” indicator that appears.

  3. As you continue to hover along the edge, look carefully for the arc to change color from cyan to magenta. The magenta color indicates that you’ve located the point that is equidistant from the corner relative to your initial point (arc is tangent at both edges).

  4. Double-click when you see the arc change to magenta and SketchUp will automatically trim that corner.

  5. If you’d like to continue trimming corners at that same radius – simply double-click near other corners. Need a visual? Check out the animation of this in action below.

Automatically trim corners by drawing a tangent arc at a corner and then double-clicking with the Arc tool. Check out this Knowledge Center article for additional information about these methods.



Now let’s explore the Position Camera tool. It may not be used often, but it’s worth taking out of your tool belt once in a while. If desired, you can review this tool in our SketchUp Training Series: Position Camera / Look Around video. When you’re ready, try this in your current SketchUp model:

  1. Select the Position Camera tool; notice status bar informing you to “Select the camera position.”

  2. Click once on a point in your model where you wish to set the camera position.

  3. SketchUp zooms into the viewpoint you chose. The status bar now states, “Drag in direction to turn camera.” Note that your cursor now changes to the icon for the Look Around tool. This allows you to adjust your view as if you’re turning your head; the camera position is stationary, but you can swivel to look around.

  4. In Step 2, we clicked and released the mouse button. If you click and drag, the status bar indicates: “Select a point that the camera is aimed at.” You can now release the mouse button over a location in your model where you wish to look. One use of this is to perform a line-of-sight analysis where you want the vantage point from a specific location and the view aimed at a specific point in your model.

Position Camera lets you pick a vantage point in SketchUp and create a view looking towards a specific location in your model. (Models shown found via 3D Warehouse: Star Trek TOS Crew, USS Enterprise NCC- 1701- G, & 40 Acres "Mayberry" Sets)



We’re sure you’ve noticed that SketchUp will snap to specific inferences as you draw with certain tools. The Arc tool snaps to a half circle proportion. The Rectangle tool snaps to square proportions as well as the Golden Section (Golden Ratio). A dotted line with a Golden Section tool tip will appear when you’re in a position to create a Golden Section. Try this for yourself by clicking once to start drawing a rectangle – hover slowly – and look for SketchUp to snap to those proportions.

Looking for Golden Section proportions? Utilize the Golden Section snap in SketchUp to quickly draw with these proportions.

If you’re curious about what else you may have never noticed about your favorite SketchUp tools, here’s a list of some key modifiers you can find among the tools in the Large Tool Set:

Select → Shift = extend selection
Eraser → Shift = Hide, Option (Ctrl) = Soften/Smooth
Push/Pull → Option (Ctrl) = create new starting face
Move/Copy → Option (Ctrl) = copy, Shift = lock inference,
Command (Alt) = auto-fold
Rotate → Option (Ctrl) = copy, Shift = align to face
Tape Measure → Option (Ctrl) = create guides
Protractor → Option (Ctrl) = create guides, Shift = align to face
Orbit → Shift = pan, Option (Ctrl) = suspend gravity
Zoom → Shift = change field of view
Walk → Option (Ctrl) = run (seriously!), Shift = move vertically or sideways,
Command (Alt) = disable collision detection
Section Plane → Shift = lock to plane

It’s easy to miss some tool options and key modifiers when you’re cruising along in SketchUp. Don’t forget to occasionally peek at that status bar while you’re modeling; it might just give you the hint you need to proceed.


Posted by Josh Reilly, SketchUp Team

Permalink | Links to this post | 2 comments

Taking a ride with Connor Wood Bicycles

Yup, you read it correct: Chris Connor makes bicycles out of wood. We did a double-take too when we met Chris at the 2013 AIA National Convention in Denver. At first, we weren’t sure why a bicycle builder was exhibiting at an architecture trade show, but without a doubt Chris’s ridable wooden bikes share the functional beauty of a well-designed building.

After having logged many hours designing the base geometry of his custom bikes with paper and pencil, Chris turned to SketchUp to streamline his design process. We visited his workshop in Denver to learn more about how he creates these timber two-wheelers.



Permalink | Links to this post | 1 comments

Introducing 3D Warehouse Detailed Collections

Remember Component Bonus Packs? 2D and 3D trees, furniture and accessories, wood joists and roof details: these components, authored by the SketchUp team, have been a consistent staple of 3D Warehouse for years. With the release of SketchUp 2015, we’ve greatly expanded and improved SketchUp’s standard component collections.

As of today, more than 2,800 individual detailed pieces of new SketchUp-authored content are available on 3D Warehouse. As you browse the new Detailed Collections, you’ll find that many standard components, like this theater light, have been improved with a much greater level of detail.

Find more Film and Stage models here.



Similar to their predecessors, the updated and improved components are generic in nature. These new, detailed components have been uploaded alongside the simplified counterparts; the titles of new components end with “Detailed.” For example, the search result for “HMI Light 4000Watts with Barndoors” will display both the simplified and detailed versions of the component. It’s important to note that these new detailed components are typically more “geometry heavy” (a.k.a. higher polygon count), which means you should consider how they’re used in your SketchUp model. You may consider using simplified components as proxies and replace those with the detailed versions when appropriate (just take note of component insertion points).


description here

description here

description here

description here
Several side-by-side examples of the simplified generic content vs. their detailed counterparts.
(Note: 2D Crocodile Hunter tribute model, by 3D Warehouse user jw_n_mo, not actually included in detailed glass door component.)



You can access this treasure trove of content by browsing 3D Warehouse Detailed Collections via SketchUp’s 3D Warehouse window (File > 3D Warehouse > Get Models) or via your web browser. You can find all components and collections created by the SketchUp team by visiting our 3D Warehouse profile.

In addition to visual improvements, these components are also jam-packed with all sorts of useful information, including IFC attributes. Try exporting to Tekla BIMsight or Trimble Connect – both accept IFC files. You’ll see that the IFC metadata transfers too!

Detailed version of a 2 inch ball valve showing IFC classification data in the Entity Info box.



The release of this content provides a great excuse to browse 3D Warehouse in search of new components to include in your projects. We’ve taken special care to include relevant tags in each component so users can search and find exactly what they need. There are collections for Seating, Electronics, Jibs and Cranes... and many more! We hope you’re able to take advantage of this new content and that it helps you more quickly and more accurately express your ideas.

Keep tabs on recent activity by following 3D Warehouse on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+



Posted by Ryan Ghere, SketchUp Team

Permalink | Links to this post | 7 comments

Reimagining the Veterans Memorial Tunnels

Jon Altschuld is a landscape designer for THK Associates in Aurora, Colorado. THK developed the aesthetic design for the Veterans Memorial Tunnels, a major highway infrastructure project currently being constructed along Interstate 70 near Idaho Springs, CO. (If you’ve skied in Colorado, you’ve probably driven through this stretch of highway). We talked with Jon about how SketchUp was used in this project.

One of the final renderings of the proposed tunnel design – SketchUp model rendered with Vue.


Tell us a little more about this project.

These tunnels (formally known as the Twin Tunnels) were originally built in 1961. This project focused on improving mobility within the I-70 corridor by widening both tunnels to three lanes with wider shoulders. The project also focused on addressing safety and creating unique features to serve as gateways for the area.

The previous design of the tunnel portals created a feeling of driving into a headwall, which caused motorists to brake and slow down when approaching the tunnels. The new design resolves this problem by integrating a spiraling tunnel portal that welcomes motorists into the tunnel gradually. These spiraling tunnel portals are the result of evaluating multiple design options on a variety of criteria.


Did you work with any data that was imported into SketchUp? 

Yes, most of this 3D model was based on imported data. The existing terrain information was collected in the field with LiDAR, and the LiDAR data was converted into a TIN (Triangulated Irregular Network) mesh in Microstation. Microstation was used because that’s the main software the transportation engineers use. The Microstation mesh was then exported to AutoCAD .dwg files as both a mesh and as contour lines. We were able to import the mesh file directly into SketchUp, and the contour file was used to create proposed grading files in AutoCAD. The proposed grading files, as well as the plan view geometry (road layout, tunnel layout, retaining walls, etc.) were all created in AutoCAD and the .dwg files were imported into SketchUp. Once in SketchUp, the proposed contours became meshes via the From Contours Sandbox tool, and they were then combined with the existing grade meshes.


How did SketchUp help in the decision-making process? 

This project used a Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) approach, which involves creating and evaluating a number of options based on a variety of criteria. SketchUp was used to arrive at the final options that were evaluated in the CSS process, and for evaluation during the actual CSS process. Leading up to CSS, over a dozen different design options were created and explored in meetings. For these meetings, SketchUp was more useful than final renderings because we were able to look at any view in real time, as well as make design changes to explore additional options. During the CSS evaluation, SketchUp was used to compare four options side-by-side.

One of the west portal options in SketchUp. The pinkish area is existing terrain, and the purplish area is proposed (the big wall of purple is a large cut where rock was blasted away to create enough space for the wider tunnels).


How did you communicate or collaborate with other colleagues and consultants? 

We used one main SketchUp model with multiple groups and layers. I’m a bit of a grouping (and components) fanatic; it keeps models organized and the file size down. I mainly use layers for separating visual options, which was perfect for this project. One little trick was to place 3D text with the name of the design option in a visible place in the model (as seen in the image above) and put it on the same layer as the geometry for that layer. Whenever Option B was being shown, “Option B” text was visible; this helped reduce confusion.

I think the SketchUp images do a pretty good job of showing how we used SketchUp as a design tool, but what isn’t shown is how interactive it was for meetings. Being able to analyze and compare over a dozen options from any view, modify those options on the fly, and create new options while in meetings was invaluable. To work efficiently on the fly, the model needs to be created with that objective in mind. For example, having the different options on appropriately named layers allows you to quickly compare the options at the request of meeting attendees. Having the model neatly grouped allows you to easily modify pieces without affecting the whole model (be sure to know which pieces are groups and which are components). These in-meeting modifications to the model often are not as clean as the overall model and may require some clean up back at the office. Typically, I will save the ‘meeting’ version of the model, but only use it as a reference to make the refined edits to the final model.


Were there any SketchUp extensions that helped with this project? 

I use extensions every time I open SketchUp. Some that I use on almost every project – including this one – are Weld, Tools On Surface, Joint Push/Pull Interactive, Selection Toys, Bezier Spline, and PathCopy

The most challenging piece of the model to create was the spiraling tunnel extensions. I went through a number of trials to get the geometry correct; some of these trials used extensions such as Extrude Tools, Artisan, Curviloft, and Follow Me & Rotate. ThomThom recently released an extension called Bezier Surface that would have been really helpful had it been available when I was working on this model! 

Also, the ivy that is seen in the final Vue renderings was created in SketchUp using the SketchUp Ivy extension – this wasn’t added to the design until I was already working in Vue; that’s why the ivy doesn’t show up in the SketchUp images.

SketchUp view of the east portal exploring the spiraling hood extension at the tunnel entrance.

Tell us about the transition from SketchUp model to the final Vue renderings.

The transition from SketchUp to Vue is fairly simple. I typically change the SketchUp materials to bright solid colors so that I can easily differentiate them in Vue (unless there’s a SketchUp image texture I want to use in Vue). After cleaning up any unnecessary pieces of the model (such as unused options), I export the model to an .obj file and import that into Vue. All of the vegetation (except the ivy) is added in Vue. The boulders and talus slopes were also created in Vue. Vue recognizes objects based on material, so it is fairly easy to create and assign materials one-by-one for the model. The process typically involves a lot of quick, low quality test renders to fine tune the materials, lighting, camera, and atmospheric settings. Once these are all finalized, the high quality final renderings can be created – which can take a while. Some of the renderings for this project took 16+ hours to render! All that remains after that is post-processing work in Photoshop.

Final rendering of the east portal.


How do you go from SketchUp model to tunnel construction? 

For this project, much of the “base pieces” were already engineered and into construction documents when the SketchUp modeling began. For example, the core tunnel structure/bore, the roadway alignment, and the utilities were all pretty much set. The configuration of the tunnel extension walls, retaining walls, and proposed grading were all items that became defined by decisions from the SketchUp model. For these items, the beginnings of the construction documents were already in place from creating the linework in AutoCAD. From there, we simply had to bring these drawings to 100% construction documents and the General Contractor installed them. The General Contractor was involved in many meetings leading up to construction where we used the SketchUp model to better explain details of the design. 


Posted by Josh Reilly, SketchUp Team

Permalink | Links to this post | 2 comments

The Value of "Clean Modeling"

David Heim is a veteran book and magazine editor specializing in woodworking. After a 28-year career at Consumer Reports, he moved to Fine Woodworking magazine. David has been writing about and teaching SketchUp for over four years, and says he never begins any project until he has previewed it in SketchUp first. This is one of several upcoming SketchUpdate guest posts from David on modeling principles for woodworkers.

I first heard the phrase clean modeling from Dave Richards at 3D Basecamp 2014. As Dave explained it to me later, clean modeling is a simple concept that basically means, “learn to sweat the small stuff.” If the model isn’t “clean,” small flaws could interfere with the changes you or someone else may want to make in the future. Let’s take a closer look at clean modeling principles via a Shaker trestle table I did a few years back. It looks pretty good, right? Actually, it’s a good example of why clean modeling is important.

Although this model of a Shaker table looks pretty good, it actually contains a number of flaws; finding and fixing them is what clean modeling is all about.

Missing Faces. I thought enough of the trestle table model to share it on the SketchUcation woodworking forum. Someone quickly cut me down to size, pointing out that my turned legs were missing faces. It’s a good thing no one looked closer. In fact, there were several problems with the model. Let’s begin with the missing faces. It happened because I was working with small geometry at a 1:1 scale. I could have saved face, so to speak, if I had scaled up the leg profile before extruding it.

The blue areas (left side) show where faces were not created properly. The right side shows the successful result of the scaled up Follow Me technique.

You can heal these faces by tracing over some of the edges with the Line tool, but it’s better to scale up certain components before using Follow Me or running Intersect Faces. Dave Richards typically copies a component to be extruded or intersected, scales it up 100x or even 1000x, and then edits the copy. After that, he deletes the copy; the original will show the edits properly. Generally, I’ve found this scaling method ensures a model won’t wind up with small missing faces.

A closer look. Inspecting the bottom of the arched feet reveals more small problems. If I run ThomThom's Solid Inspector extension, it shows me a stray line at one corner. It’s only about 1/64” long, but it shouldn’t be there. The same goes for a sliver of a stray face on the opposite corner. Extraneous lines and faces like these can pop up sometimes when performing certain tasks — like Intersect Faces mentioned above. These little lines are hard to see, of course. I could say, “So what? No one will ever see them.” Maybe, but I need to get rid of them if I want a clean model.
Ed. Note: ThomThom recently released Solid Inspector². Also, try “StrayLines.rb” from www.smustard.com.

The Solid Inspector extension reveals a minuscule stray line at the base of the foot. This extension is a useful tool for identifying extraneous geometry that could be erased.

Orient faces. Obviously, visible faces must be oriented properly. But the same goes for faces that aren’t meant to be seen: the sides of holes, recesses, mortises, and the like. As you create those elements, take the time to be sure the correct face is showing. If a surface is facing the wrong way, you can right-click on it and choose Reverse Faces.

Soften/Smooth curved faces. Often, when you Push/Pull a shape that results in a curved face, you’ll also create edges separating the facets of the curve. You can hide those edges, but the face will still look faceted. It’s better to eliminate the edges with the Soften/Smooth Edges technique.

Hiding the edges on a curved face leaves the surface looking faceted (middle object). For a truly smooth face, use Soften/Smooth Edges.

Set component axes. If a component doesn't perfectly align to the axes, be sure to set the axes when you create the component. This is especially important if you’re planning to use the CutList extension. It relies on the size of the bounding box to reckon the size of the component. An oversized bounding box will lead to inaccuracies in the cutlist.

Clean-up. Finally, reduce the file size: purge unused components, use multiple copies of components instead of numerous groups, and compress textures. ThomThom's CleanUp³ extension helps expedite this process. If my advice strikes you as too obvious, that probably means your models are pretty clean already.


Guest authored by David Heim

Permalink | Links to this post | 4 comments

Goodbye Aidan. Hello Bitsbox.

Ten years. That's how long I was a member of the SketchUp team. I spent that time starting this blog, teaching classes, writing the For Dummies book, hosting 3D Basecamps, and a thousand other things. But the thing I'm most proud of is helping to establish the SketchUp for Education program: working with kids, parents and teachers to make 3D modeling a part of their lives.

SketchUp 4 Launch.jpg
The @Last Software team on July 6th, 2004, the day we launched SketchUp 4

When Scott Lininger (the co-inventor of Dynamic Components and lots more) approached me about leaving SketchUp with him to start a company that teaches little kids to code, I knew I'd found my (next) calling. I've been trying to learn how to program for years—what if I'd had the chance to learn when I was six? As a creative person, there's no single skill I've spent more time wishing I had. I don't want to be programmer; I want to be a person who can code. I want my kid to be a person who can code. What parent doesn't?

So I talked it over with my wife Sandra (you know her as the LayOut Product Manager), and we decided I should go for it. It wasn't an easy decision: The SketchUp team is my extended family, and this community has been the kindest, most generous and humble mob of people I've ever had the pleasure to know. And I love SketchUp. I LOVE it. (I still dream in SketchUp sometimes.) It's part of my DNA.

t-shirts.jpg
About 10% of the SketchUp shirts I've collected over the years.

Scott and I left the team to work together full-time in June. In the time since then, we've created Bitsbox: A free website where kids can build apps that work on real devices (like phones and iPads), and a box full of app projects that gets delivered to our subscribers' kids every month. The video we made for our Kickstarter campaign explains it:



Other good news: Last week was Computer Science Education Week, and over 200,000 kids built apps with Bitsbox online. You can, too. We were featured in very nice articles in TechCrunch and GeekDad, and we were the Kickstarter Project of the Day on the 11th. And we're just getting started.

Scott_Aidan_2014.jpg
Aidan and Scott at Bitsbox World Headquarters in Boulder

If you'd like to support a couple of ex-SketchUppers in our effort to make coding less scary, or you'd like to pre-order Bitsbox for some kids you know, please do. At the end of the campaign, when we ask you if you know any Super-Secret Codewords, put in "SketchUp" and we'll include something special in your first box. Maybe a hair from John Bacus's magical beard. Maybe something even better.

THANK YOU for ten amazing years. It was a pleasure. Maybe we'll see each other at the next 3D Basecamp. Reach out if you like: I'm aidan@bitsbox.com. Onwards!


Posted by Aidan Chopra, SketchUp Evangelist (Emeritus)

Permalink | Links to this post | 7 comments

Introducing Paid Extensions in Extension Warehouse

Today, we're pleased to announce that Extension Warehouse has just crossed into the realm of fully functional app store. This means that in addition to the hundreds of fantastic SketchUp extensions that are freely available, you can now purchase and install paid extensions directly through Extension Warehouse, in just a few clicks.

EW_Oob.png
Now, Extension Warehouse lets you purchase and install paid extensions from SketchUp developers.

We hope that enabling the sale of paid extensions will be a game changer for SketchUp users and developers alike. Users get direct access to awesome paid extensions that streamline modeling workflows. Developers get an awesome E-commerce platform with access to millions of customers who are looking for great modeling utilities and add-on tools. Win-win? We think so.

It’s worth noting that credit card transactions are processed securely by the same store platform we use to sell SketchUp licenses. And we’re using the same licensing platform that SketchUp uses. Each extension is still carefully moderated by the SketchUp Extensibility team to ensure quality and security. So, the purchase process for extensions is as smooth and safe as buying SketchUp Pro.

Initially, you’ll find the following paid extensions now available through Extension Warehouse:

We're adding new free and paid extensions every week; keep tabs on the newest extensions by following SketchUp on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+, or by browsing Extension Warehouse for new products from your favorite developers.

If you are a developer, our new E-commerce platform means that instead of spending a major portion of your time implementing your own licensing system, maintaining your own store front or worrying about how you’ll process your transactions, you can focus on developing great tools for SketchUp. For more information on distributing extensions check out our developer center.


Posted by Bryce Stout, Product Manager

Permalink | Links to this post | 4 comments

What are Fast Styles?

Let’s say you’re presenting an idea in SketchUp, but perhaps you’d prefer a loose conceptual look or a hand-drawn visualization — you’d rather not show what you’ve created in a way that makes it feel finished or final. Styles in SketchUp control the display settings which alter the way your model appears.

You can choose from a collection of predefined Styles, mix attributes of various Styles to make your own unique Style, and assign Styles to Scenes for handy access. The thing is, some Styles render faster than others. Because of this, you may want to use certain Styles (or Style settings) in certain situations during modeling and presentation work.

The Style shown above is called “PSO Vignette”; you can find it in the “Assorted Styles” category of the Styles Browser. This Style looks great, but it’s meant for illustration — not navigation. (Mountain Lake Retreat model by MB Architecture via 3D Warehouse)

This led us to the idea for Fast Styles: a combination of Style settings that won’t slow you down while modeling. In SketchUp 2015, you’ll notice a small green stopwatch icon in the bottom right corner of a Style thumbnail that meets the criteria of an official “Fast Style.” SketchUp now auto-detects Styles that use less processing power — this earns them the new badge.

These Styles are Fast Styles; note the new green badge.

To create your own Fast Style, you’ll need to get your hands dirty in the Styles Browser. When creating a Fast Style, you should avoid Style choices that will cause performance decline as your model complexity increases — settings like Sketchy Edges, Profiles, and Watermarks. Check out our Knowledge Center to learn more about these settings and Fast Styles, and remember to save the changes to your newly configured Styles!

However, a Fast Style doesn’t mean a boring Style. We whipped up a few custom Fast Styles and tossed them into this SketchUp model. Go to Window > Styles and jump into the "Select", "Edit", and "Mix" tabs to see what's there and mix some new Styles of your own.

This Style was created by simply changing the edges for the default “Blueprint” Style. The white Edge Setting from the “Camo” Style was applied to a copy of the Blueprint Style to create this new fast version.

A Style like the Fast Blueprint above might be a good choice when you want to present your SketchUp model in a stylized fashion, but you’d also like the benefits of smooth navigation and Scene transitions. Of course, you can still use Styles that have not earned the Fast Style badge — the benefit of working with Styles and Scenes together is that it’s easy to jump from a Scene meant for illustration to a Scene you might want to interact with. Now, with Fast Styles, you've got another trick up your sleeve for working and presenting quickly in SketchUp.

Posted by Josh Reilly, SketchUp Team

Permalink | Links to this post | 0 comments

Who is Steve Oles?

Whenever I teach someone SketchUp, the first thing I like to do is introduce our scale figure. Functionally, these 2D face-me components help orient you to a model's scale and perspective. More personally, the scale figures we’ve chosen for our default templates have always been members of the SketchUp team. For us, it’s a fun way to recognize someone who’s helped make SketchUp what it is.

In SketchUp 2015, our default scale figure isn’t one of our great colleagues, but one of our great friends: Steve Oles.

SketchUp 2015’s default scale figure “Steve” rendered in the PSO Vignette style that he helped create.


If you’ve come to a 3D Basecamp, you may have met Steve or even sat in on one of his unconference sessions about hybrid drawing for architectural illustration. The name might also be familiar if you’ve ever used one of the PSO styles in SketchUp (Steve is short for Paul Stevenson).

And if the PSO styles are familiar, we’re guessing you may have come across Steve’s book at some point in your architectural studies. Steve has been a source of inspiration for our team for some time now, and as we’ve gotten to know him, we’ve really enjoyed learning about his career too. So, in our 2015 update for SketchUp, we decided it was about time to introduce you all to our friend, Steve Oles…



Posted by Mark Harrison, on behalf of the SketchUp team

Permalink | Links to this post | 0 comments