Move, Rotate and Scale tools

Move Scale Rotate sketchup

This lesson focuses on three main manipulation tools in SketchUp. Moving, scaling and rotating geometries are the fundamental tools that you’re going to need in every construction project. So stay tuned.

Move Tool

The most basic and important tool for manipulates an object is the Move tool. This tool, as the name implies, is for relocating a selected item from one place to another. In order to move something, you obviously need to select it first, then you need to select the Move tool by clicking on its icon on the toolbar.

If you take a closer look, you’ll see that your cursor turns into a four-way arrow after you’ve activated the Move tool. This is the sign that SketchUp is ready to move your selected item.

Tip 50

Tip: The shortcut for Move tool is “M” key on your keyboard.

Now if you move your mouse cursor over the selected object, SketchUp will give you suggestions about the key points of that object that you can use as a reference point for moving the object.

move tool endpoint midpoint
For example, if you move your cursor over each of the corner points of a rectangle, a small solid green circle will show that you can use this endpoint as your reference point for moving.
If you move your mouse over the middle point of each edge, SketchUp will show a solid cyan circle, which shows you are going to take your object by the <middle point> of this particular edge.

Although you can move the geometries by clicking on any random place on the drawing area but most times, this is not going to give the desired result. It’s because when you want to place it on a certain spot in a 3D space, you won’t be able to do it correctly when lacking a reference point. The object may be placed somewhere behind or above the desired spot or somewhere else and you might need to do some additional adjustments to fix it.

We’ll see many examples later, how picking an object by its reference point is the right way to move objects.

Scale Tool

This tool is for resizing a geometry. After you’ve selected a shape or object, you need to select Scale Tool on your toolbar. Once you do that, three solid green cubes will appear on each corner of your selected object.
This is SketchUp’s instruction that you can use any of these green cubes as a “Handle” for resizing your selected item.
scale tool sketchup
Tip 50

Tip: The shortcut for Scale tool is “S” key on your keyboard.

Notice that if your grab the corner handles, SketchUp will resize your object proportionally but if you grab the edge handles, you will be resizing it from that side only.
One trick you need to know about Scale tool is that once you have grabbed a corner or edge handle, if you hold down your Ctrl key on your keyboard, SketchUp will use the center point of the entire shape or object to resize it from both sides. If you hold down both Ctrl and Shift key on your keyboard, SketchUp will resize the shape from all sides disproportionately.

Rotate Tool

Don’t be surprised! We have one more tool left and it’s the tool for rotating an object. Rotating objects is a bit tricky but you can learn it quickly after some practice.

To activate this tool, click on Rotate tool on the toolbar. Once you activate this tool, a temporary protractor will show up on the screen. This protractor is a guide for choosing your desired angle of rotation. Now when you click somewhere, that spot will be the center of rotation.
After this step, Sketchup will wait for you to first click for the starting angle of rotation and then click for the end angle of rotation.
rotation tool sketchup
Tip 50

Tip: The shortcut for Rotate tool is “Q” key on your keyboard.

The protractor can turn into three different colors when you move your mouse. They are the same colors for the 3D axes. It’s very important for you to know the meaning of these colors in order to be able to correctly rotate objects. Please pay close attention to the following lines:

  • If it turns blue, SketchUp is telling you that you’re going to rotate around Z (blue) axis.
  • A green protractor is telling you that the rotation will be around Y (green) axis.
  • The red protractor is a sign that SketchUp will rotate your object around its X (red) axis.

It’s a very simple concept but nevertheless you need to put some practice into working with the rotation tool to be able to work with it properly.

Locking Movement along a certain axis

A very efficient help that SketchUp provides when working with Move tool is the using of arrow keys on your keyboard.
Once you have picked up your object that is about to be moved, if you press either one of the Up, Left or Right arrow keys on your keyboard, SketchUp will lock and constrain the movement along Z (blue), Y (green) or X (red) axis respectively. SketchUp shows a locked axis by showing a thick dashed (red, green or blue) line.
locked move

By pressing the Up arrow key, you’re locking the movement to Z (blue) axis which means you can only move along Z axis now. Pressing the Left arrow key locks you to the the Y (green) axis and pressing the Right arrow key will lock you to the X (red) axis. In order to release from a locked axis, just press the same arrow key one more time.

In next lesson we’re going to focus on other shape drawing tools such as Rotated rectangle, Circle and Polygon.

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