Hello SketchUpers. In this article we’re going to do something practical for the first time. Let’s get into drawing and start to actually create basic a geometery in SketchUp.
Pencil and Eraser
I think the most basic tools you need to work with in SketchUp are the “Pencil” and the “Eraser” tools. I’m sure this reminds you of the first day you went to the elementary school, doesn’t it?
First, we’re going to draw a line on the screen. If you’re not already in the SketchUp workspace, please run the program or create a new file by clicking on File > New. Now go pick up the Pencil tool from the large tool set on the left side of the screen.
Once you’re selected the pencil, your cursor turn into a pencil on the screen. Now, there’s two way for drawing a line with a pencil.
- Either you can click your left mouse button and release it and after you’ve dragged your mouse to another location, click again and release the mouse button.
- Or you need to click and hold your left mouse button down, then drag your mouse to somewhere else on the screen and then release the mouse button.
Both of these ways have their usage and difference. The first method gives you the freedom of drawing multiple continuous lines that are connected to each other. Every time you click and release the mouse button, SketchUp creates a new point connected by a line to the previous point and remains ready to go ahead and create another line.
This will continue until either you draw a closed shape by connecting the last line to the starting point or you click and select another tool on the toolbar.
The second method is useful when you need to draw or connect two points with a single line. The main difference is that the mouse-down click starts drawing the line and the mouse-up click ends the drawing of the line.
Although the pencil tool is still active but SketchUp stops drawing continuous lines. The result is a single line and if you want to continue, you’ll need to click on the endpoint of the previous line to start drawing the next line.
Give it a practice and you’ll see the difference of these two methods. This two methods pretty much apply when working with other tools like rectangle tool, circle tool and polygon tool, which I’ll explain later on.
The shortcut for activating the Pencil tool is “L” on your keyboard.
Using 3D coordinate lines
Draw a rectangle with the Pencil tool
I’m sure you know that you can draw many 2D shapes using the Pencil tool. Practically, any shape that doesn’t have curves in their structure can be drawn with the pencil tool.
Drawing a rectangle for example is very simple. Just select the Pencil too and start clicking and dragging along one axis, for example red, and then continue drawing along the green axis. Do this until you turn around and reach the starting point. This will create a closed shape and as soon as you click the endpoint of last line. Once a closed shape is formed, SketchUp puts a “face” inside it.
Take a look at the picture below:
SketchUp automatically creates a face on a closed 2D shape. So when you’re drawing a rectangle with the pencil tool, if you see that no face was created when you closed the last edge, it means that your shape is not a flat shape because you’ve not drawn all the endpoints on a flat plane.
A 2D shape has all it’s corner points and edges on a 2D plane. Remember that we’re working in a 3D space, so this kinds of drawing mistakes could happen if we don’t use the axes as a reference because we’re looking at the scene from a perspective angle. That’s why using the 3D coordinate axes is so important and useful when drawing in SketchUp.
for example look at the picture below. This shape appears to be a rectangle and since all the corners are connected, it’s definitely a closed shape. But notice that there’s no face inside it:
But when you bring your camera down (click mousewheel to activate the orbit tool) and look at the same shape from another angle, you see it’s not a 2D rectangle at all because only two edges of the rectangle lay on a plane and one corner of the rectangle is actually in the air.
Use the Eraser tool to remove things
Eraser tool is probably the simplest tool in SketchUp to work with. Whatever you draw might be needed to be removed at some point. To use that, you simply click on the eraser icon on the toolbar to activate it. You cursor changes to an eraser with a little hollow circle beneath the cursor. For deleting a line or an object, you need to put that little circle over the line and left-click on it. Boom! it’s gone! It’s that simple.
The shortcut for activating the Eraser tool is “E” on your keyboard.
Now there’s a catch. Remember that as soon as you erase one of the lines of a closed shape, like the rectangle we drew before, the face inside the rectangle disappears too. It’s because when you remove one edge of a closed shape, it’s not a “closed” shape anymore. A face appears only inside closed a shape.
Another thing to remember is that you can’t erase a face by using the Eraser tool. This tool only works on edges, lines and solid objects. To remove a face, you’ll need to first select it and then press “Delete” on your keyboard.
But before doing that, you need to know how to select things in SketchUp. Selecting geometries is a tricky job in SketchUp, so stay tuned. In the next lesson, we’ll dive into it and explain every trick you need to know about “selecting” things in SketchUp.