GEOG 497
3D Modeling and Virtual Reality

3.6 Create a Building


3.6 Create a Building

3D Model Assignment

In order to deepen your modeling expertise, we would like you to create your own 3D model of a building. There are a number of options, and while we provide general guidelines, we leave it up to you to choose your route. Modeling is really a rather personal matter and finding your own style is important. We provide more information and some general guidelines below.

Basic Requirements

Now that you are somewhat familiar with SketchUp, your task is to create a model of a building. This model does not need to be an architectural sketch but should be perceptually similar to the original. You should pay attention to things such as windows, roof shape, textures, etc.

These are the basic requirements. If you stick to them and deliver a SketchUp model that meets these criteria, you will receive 90% of the possible points. We have a number of options below that will allow you to receive 100%. Basically, you have to include at least one advanced feature.

Advanced Requirements

Below is a list of things you can do to fulfill advanced requirement criteria. You do not have to choose them all. You can do just one or however many you would like to tackle. Generally speaking, you need to provide a model that shows a higher level of sophistication/complexity, not necessarily for all its features but for some. It is necessary that you provide a brief 1-2 paragraph write-up that explains how you improved the model with added detail. Alternatively (or in addition), there are steps you can perform that would satisfy the advanced requirements. Here is the overview:

  • Option 1: Model certain aspects of your building in great detail (e.g., windows, doors) or add other more sophisticated features to your model, such as embedding it in a scene or creating a model that is geo-referenced. Document your efforts in a 1-2 paragraph write-up that explains how you added detail and why you consider this to be beyond the basic requirements.
  • Option 2: Create a model of a Penn State campus building. Warning: Most of them are rather complex. Below are a couple of comments on how to use Google Earth / Street View Geolocation in SketchUp to create such a model.
  • Option 3: You may have seen our collection of historic Penn State Campus buildings on Sketchfab (Links to an external site.). The Historic Campus Project evolved out of a collaboration with Penn State's Library. There are a couple of building models missing. We have collected information about the missing buildings. If you are interested, please send me an email and I will share these resources with you and if what you create is of reasonable quality we can integrate your model into our collection.
  • Option 4: Create your own Sketchfab account and share your model with us this way. Exporting SketchUp models to Sketchfab is easier in the Sketchfab Pro version, as there is a plug-in for the export created by Alexander C Schreyer. However, you can also export and import the model that you have. It is sometimes a bit tricky as glitches in your model (e.g., messy topology, missing textures) are compensated in SketchUp that start showing up once the model is exported. This document (Links to an external site.) instructs you on how to integrate a Sketchfab model to your website.

Additional Information

As mentioned before, modeling is a rather personal experience, there are many ways to model and in the end, you might find your personal style. Here are three examples of how you can arrive at a building model:

  1. SketchUp has a feature called Matching a Photo to a Model. What it allows you to do is to use a photo taken of a building and create a 3D model based on this photo with some rather intriguing tools that take into account the perspective found in the photo / identified interactively and adjust it to create a proper/correct 3D model. While this method is intriguing, it does require you to have good photos of buildings and it requires a bit more training to get good results. If the photo is good and you have put in some effort, you will be rewarded with a realistic-looking 3D model.
  2. You can look for basic or incomplete models in the 3D Warehouse in SketchUp. Please do not submit an existing model from the warehouse or elsewhere as part of your assignment! What is legitimate to do though, is to use an existing model as a basis. One example: If you search for "Old Botany" in the 3D Warehouse, you will find a model of Penn State's Old Botany by a user name 'faith'. This model is not really a model, as it does not have proper geometries (for example, the windows). But, it is possible to use this model as a template and create a proper model around it.
  3. We frequently use SketchUp's heritage. What this means is that SketchUp was created by Google. There is a feature in SketchUp called "location". It can be added to your interface going through View>>Toolbars>>Location. This feature allows you to select a building that Google has integrated into its Google Earth efforts. The advantage is that your models are instantly geo-referenced. If you combine this feature with other Google products such as Google Earth (which allows for measuring the size and height of a building) and Google Street View, you have a really powerful tool at your fingertips for creating building models of many places on Earth.

Submit your file

Upload your SketchUp file to the Lesson 3 3D Model Assignment.

Grading Rubric
Criteria Full Credit Half Credit No Credit Possible Points
The perceptual appeal of the entire model 6 pts 3 pts 0 pts 6 pts
Level of realism of doors 2 pts 1 pts 0 pts 2 pts
Level of realism of windows 2 pts 1 pts 0 pts 2 pts
Detail of the roof and associated features 2 pts 1 pts 0 pts 2 pts
The complexity of the building 3 pts 1.5 pts 0 pts 3 pts
The level of model optimization 3 pts 1.5 pts 0 pts 3 pts
Naturalness of textures 2 pts 1 pts 0 pts 2 pts
Total Points: 20 pts