GEOG 497
3D Modeling and Virtual Reality

3.4 SketchUp Essential Concepts Summary


3.4 SketchUp Essential Concepts Summary

Below are a few concepts that you either have encountered or are worth noticing about SketchUp.

Accurate modeling

While the name contains the word "sketch", it is a bit misleading. If you want to, you can model extremely precisely and accurately in SketchUp.

Object snapping

Like many other programs these days, SketchUp allows for snapping to various locations of/within objects such as endpoints, midpoint, edges, or circle centers.


This is one of SketchUp's most powerful features. There are several types of inferences that make it easier to create 3D models. Examples are point, line, or shape inferences. Different inferences are indicated by a color code. To learn more about inferencing, check out the SketchUp Help Center.

Direct value entry

Being able to enter values for objects characteristics directly is extremely useful, especially if you have measured an object you plan to model outside SketchUp.

Groups and components

This is a crazy important feature of SketchUp. Groups and components are not only making modeling easier and faster, but they are also allowing for improving the performance of 3D models. A group is, as the name implies, is a selection of entities grouped/joined together. Important: if you copy a group, all its contents are copied, too, adding to the required storage space. A component, in contrast, is a set of entities that are centrally stored and each time it is being inserted into a model, it is considered an instance. What this practically means is that the storage space of your model is drastically reduced (just think of hundreds of windows and imagine modeling them individually or as a component).

Geo-based modeling

As SketchUp originally was Google SketchUp it does not come as a surprise that it has rather convenient geo-location capabilities (latitude/longitude coordinates). Georeferencing a model is handy especially for embedding it into larger projects and for further analysis (e.g., shadow analysis). Once a model is georeferenced, other information sources become available such as:

  • Ortho-photographs
  • Terrain models
  • Street view images