How to set up 3D mod­els

Be­ing smart about the way you set up your 3D mod­els in SketchUp can be es­sen­tial for suc­cess, as Mark Roosien demon­strates here…

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As I’ve shown in pre­vi­ous ar­ti­cles, us­ing com­po­nents in SketchUp (check out the free ver­sion of the pro­gram, SketchUp Make, at can be a quick and prac­ti­cal way of cre­at­ing ob­jects. Now I’ll take things a bit fur­ther. By care­fully con­sid­er­ing which el­e­ments in a model should be sep­a­rate com­po­nents and which should not, you’ll

1 Place your core com­po­nents to­gether

The en­tire city scene com­prises only five com­po­nents: two apart­ment blocks, two small fly­ing ve­hi­cles and one larger air­craft. I place them to­gether, away from the main scene, which gives me easy ac­cess to all of them. The air­craft was pre­vi­ously cre­ated in a sep­a­rate SketchUp file. I open the old file, se­lect the air­craft and press Ctrl+ C. Then I press Ctrl+V in the new file to im­port the se­lected model.

2 Con­struct a city

I build up the city scene sim­ply by du­pli­cat­ing and re­siz­ing the two blocky com­po­nents. It’s eas­i­est to set up the scene when you’re di­rectly above your work, so I re­ori­ent the cam­era so that I’m look­ing down at the ground plane. I use nor­mal per­spec­tive and forced per­spec­tive as I see fit. Here, I use forced per­spec­tive for one of the bank­ing air­craft. be able to eas­ily set up scenes with only a few of them.

Com­po­nents can also be reused in SketchUp model files that you’ve pre­vi­ously cre­ated to save time. To demon­strate this, I’ll use a quick setup for a city scene, which could be used as a base layer for a 2D dig­i­tal paint­ing. The city scene serves as a back­drop for a sim­ple fu­tur­is­tic craft fly­ing through the air.

3 Set up the scene

I re­ori­ent the cam­era to find the most at­trac­tive an­gle, then se­lect Win­dow> Scene and click the Plus icon to save that an­gle. Once I’m happy with the re­sult, I ex­port the model as a jpeg and use this as a base layer for a 2D dig­i­tal paint­ing. Al­ter­na­tively, I could just con­tinue mod­el­ling in SketchUp and cre­ate a more de­tailed 3D scene!

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