Turn 2D into 3D

Create a SketchUp model from a photograph.
David Heim
20m 59s

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Create ComponentGG
Copy (with Move tool selected)Drag + CtrDrag + Option


Welcome back. In this video, I'll show you two ways to begin creating a SketchUp model by working from a photograph. First a little advice about using someone else's creativity. Don't try to pass off someone else's design as your own. Get permission, give credit to the other guy, and don't try to make money off someone else's work. It's okay to use it for your personal use, not okay to try to sell it. Now let's get started showing you how to work with photographs. In SketchUp There are two ways to import an image file and use it as the basis for creating a model. In this video we'll be working with two different views of a highboy that was made in England in about 1800. We'll start with a straight on front view, and then we'll show you how to work with a perspective view.

Open a new SketchUp file, go to the camera tab, and choose standard views, front. This changes the angle of view looking straight down the green axis. Then go to the file tab and choose import, and search your computer for the view that you want. And down here at the bottom of the import window, make sure that you select use as image. Then click import, and the file that you want will appear in SketchUp. First thing you want to do is place some guidelines so that you can scale this image to be actual size. So of course that means you need to have some basic dimensions, height, width, and depth, before you can start doing this. I'll use the tape measure tool to do the scaling. I'm just going to drag from one guideline to another, click, and then type the dimension I want. In this case I know the piece is 46 inches wide, so that's what I'm going to type. I get a prompt asking if I want to resize the model, I say yes. And there we go.

Now with the model scaled, I can begin to trace over parts. I'm going to start at the bottom here. I'm going to switch to the rectangle tool and just draw a box over the foot here, and use the image to tell me how high the box is going to be. Notice, I've got my measurements box at the top of the screen and I'm checking the numbers in it to see if they make some sense. Let's type seven, four, and five eighths. There we go. Now I can go to the view tab and choose face style and x-ray. This'll let me see the shape behind my box. I'm just going to place a couple of guidelines so that I know where to begin tracing. And I'll zoom in close so I can really see carefully what I'm doing. Just using the line and the two point arc tools to go over these shapes. And I'm watching for these prompts to tell me what I'm at the end of one arc, so I can begin drawing another.

Now I can erase some stray lines. I'll switch off of that x-ray view. And there's my first shape. I know it's the right size because I've scaled the underlying image to be full size. I also am going to assume that this piece, this foot is seven eights of an inch thick, so I'll just extrude that, type seven eighths. And now I can triple click it and make it a component. And I can place a copy over the opposite foot. Of course, I need to do a flip along command to get it oriented correctly. The next thing I'm going to do is trace over another part of this image to get one of the side pieces, go back to that front view, and place another guideline on the edge of that side piece. I'm going to switch back to the x-ray view. It'll make my guidelines easier to see.

And the guideline across the bottom edge. And we'll come up here for the top edge. Again, I'm looking for the edge of the image, and I'm watching that measurements box to look for plausible dimensions. Now I can just trace over my guidelines. And there's one part of the side. Double click it and make it a component. And again, I can place that at the opposite end here. Put in a guideline so I know where it goes. Just again copy it, get it into position, and do a flip along command. The next thing I want do is put in the feet on the side and put in the back feet. So I'm going to click on the image and go to edit, hide, get it out of the way temporarily. I happen to know that this case is 23 inches deep, so I'm just going to place a guideline to tell me where that spot is. And I'll use the rotate tool in conjunction with the option key to copy that foot and do the joinery to match these up properly later.

Do the same thing over here, get the rotate tool, tap option. Now I can select all four feet by holding down the shift key while I click on each one with a select tool. And again, copy them all, and right click and choose flip along green direction. Now with those feet in position, I can double click on my side and use push/pull to make those side pieces the right width. And I'll use the rectangle tool to put in the top piece. Again, I'm not worrying about joinery, not worrying that pieces overlap other pieces at this point. I just want to get the basic structure created and then I can come back and work on all the refinements that I need. I'll unhide that image. And that's how you get started. I can keep going and add elements. I can add in components for the drawer dividers, drawer fronts, go on and build the top case, and so on, and come back in and then do the joinery, finish up the drawers and so on. And before you know it, we'll have a complete model.

Now let me show you the second way to work with a photo. Full disclosure though, I don't use this method very often. My techniques are not as smooth as I would like them to be. But here's a quick look at the basics. Open up a new SketchUp screen, go to file, import, find the image that you want. This time choose use as new matched photo from the options and click import. And this is what you'll see. First thing you want to do is use the select tool to move the axis lines and their origin point to a spot right in the foreground. Second, you have to adjust these dotted, slanted lines to match up with the edges of the image. These set your vanishing points.

Notice that as I adjust these lines, the axis lines move with them. This is a little tedious. Here I'm going to line up that line with the axis line and then adjust it to the parallel to another line that I see in the image. Now we'll do the same thing with the red line here. And one more line to put in. Make sure I have it right over that green line. Here we go. When you've finished, you can click the done button in the match photo. Notice, too, that you get a button at the top of the drawing window, and if you happen to rotate away from your photo match view, you just click that button and the image pops back into place, along with your axis lines.

Now, as before, I'm going to put in a couple of guidelines so that I can scale this image. I'll just double click right over where the blue axis line falls, and then put it another one over here on the other edge. As before, use the tape measure tool, type the number you want and press enter. It says, "Do you want to resize the model?" So you say, "Of course." Now we can begin drawing, just tracing over what I see here for the foot. I'm using the arrow keys to keep my line moving in the correct direction along the red and the blue axis. As before I can use the line and two point arc tools and just trace over the shapes that I see, I have to pay a very careful attention to the prompts to make sure that all of my arcs are in the correct plane. And once I have everything traced over, I can use the eraser to get rid of the extraneous lines and use push/pull to give it the correct depth. And of course we're going to select everything now and make it a component.

And as before I'll use the rotate tool and the option key to get the side foot here. Let's make a copy, rotate it 90 degrees, and then overlap them with the move tool. I'll select both of those, copy them and move them to the opposite side of my model, right click and flip them along the red direction. And again, I could use the model to position the back legs. Just hold down shift and select everything. Tap option again. Next I move them along the green access, right click again, do a flip along with the move tool, get a corner, and drag it right in place against that edge in the model.

I'm going to put in a couple of guidelines so that I can do the side piece. Again, I'm just going to start where those guidelines cross. There's my prompt to tell me I'm at that spot. Trace up along the blue axis until I can hit a spot, come back along the green axis. Here I'm looking for an inference, so I know where to stop drawing that line, come back down. And there is a rectangle for the side piece. I can just make it the correct thickness and make it a component, of course. And that's how you proceed. Again, I have parts right in place and I've sized them to my image, which has been scaled to the actual size. And I can continue on building this model piece by piece, using the image as my reference for the correct size and where to position all these elements. And again, before you know it you'll have a finished model.