Built-In Features


In SketchUp you can generate accurate Shadow studies similar to any other professional CAD software. A geo-located model will cast real-world shadows as SketchUp will calculate these based on the exact model location using latitude and longitude, cardinal direction and timezone.

To geo-locate your model you can import terrain using the Add Location Tool (SketchUP PRO only) or add a location manually: select Window>Model Info>Geo-location>Set Manual Location and add latitude and longitude manually:

Add Location Tool 

Select Add Location Tool or go File>Geo-location>Add Location, the Add Location window will pop-up. Type location address and press search, the map will display a satellite or street map of the desired location, choose Select Region and Grab a portion of the map.

SketchUp will import the map on two Layers: Location Snapshot (flat image object) and Location Terrain (3D terrain model with mapped texture – hidden by default) and Geo-locate your model to World coordinates.


INFO > Map and terrain entities imported via the Add Location window are locked by default, to Unlock – select an entity, context-click and choose Unlock.

Intro to Geo-Location

5 minutes 15 seconds

video by @SketchUp


Match Photo

This feature allows you to:

1. Create a model from a photo

2. Map a photo to a model

Where to find:

Camera > Match New Photo…

Select a photo to use for photo matching and SketchUp will enter into Match Photo mode, saving a Scene and set the image as a background. In this mode you can see vanishing point bars, horizon, axes and axes origin. You need to align the origin, vanishing point bars and horizon with the image. Press Done once you are happy with the perspective, and the recorded Scene will update for view orientation so you can start modelling.


TIPYou can modify your Scene anytime. To access Match Photo mode select the mechanical wheel symbol in the Match Photo window or right-click on a respective scene and choose Edit Matched Photo.

Trace an image. Use any drawing procedure you like.


INFO > Navigating through the model will guide you out of Match photo Scene and background image disappears. To get back to your Scene just simply click on Scene tab on top of the screen.

To project a photo on your model you need to align the model with image first – the same process as described before applies. Once finished, select Project textures from photo button in Match Photo Window to apply photo texture on your model.


Intro to Match Photos – A

6 minutes 15 seconds

video by @SketchUp

Intro to Match Photos – B
7 minutes 4 seconds

video by @SketchUp


Sandbox Tools

Use THESE tools to model terrain.

Where to find:

Tools > Sandbox


TIPIn SketchUp Pro, the Sandbox tools are enabled by default. In SketchUp Make, you also have access to the Sandbox tools, but you must enable them first. To enable the Sandbox tools, use the Extension Manager by selecting Window > Extension Manager.

The Sandbox Tools are:

1. From Contours: Transform 3D contours into a site mesh

2. From Scratch: Create a terrain model from a flat site grid

3. Smoove: Sculpt your terrain -> Smooth and Move terrain in vertical direction

4. Stamp: Create a flat pad for placing an object onto terrain

5. Drape: Transfer edges from a flat surface onto terrain

6. Add Detail: Add more edges and faces to your site mesh

7. Flip Edge: Regularise the pattern of site mesh

3D Contours > trace a survey or ask your Surveyor for a 3D CAD data file

Select entities and use The Sandbox Tool From Contours to build a site mesh


Intro to using the Sandbox Tools
3 minutes 44 seconds

video by @SketchUp


Intro to generating Landscapes in SketchUp
3 minutes 10 seconds

video by @TutorialsUp


Dynamic Components

Dynamic Components are Components with programmable attributes. A value is defined for each attribute that tells the attribute how to take action. For example values can be a number that constrains a component’s size or scale, a mathematical formula or a set of options…

Where to find:

Open the Dynamic Components Tool Palette under View>Tool Palettes>Dynamic Components; select Window>Component Options or Component Attributes; or context-click Component and select Dynamic Components.

The Dynamic Components Tool Palette contains:

1. Interact with Dynamic Components Tool: DC can be programmed to interact with a user, e.g to prompt to change colour, to move/open, to go to Scene…

2. Component Options: DC can be programmed to allow a user to choose from options (predefined length, colour, number of instances,…). Component Options window displays options you can choose from and control dynamic component with.

3. Component Attributes: Window where you programme attributes for DC (SketchUp PRO only feature).

To create a Dynamic Component follow these steps:

1. Create a new Component

2. Add attributes to make your Component Dynamic – choose from predefined attributes or create custom attributes

3. Define a value for each attribute = programme attributes to take action

4. Test it to make sure it works right

5. Save Dynamic Component as a separate file = create a library of Dynamic Components

This tutorial does not cover the details of DC programming as it is quite a complex process, however we encourage you to follow some online tutorials to learn how to create Dynamic Components.

To start, try some of following web sites:

SketchUp Help Center > Making a Dynamic Component Tutorial

SketchUp Help Center > Dynamic Components User’s Guide

3D Warehouse > Dynamic Components Walkthrough Tutorials

3DVINCI > Creating Dynamic Component Tutorial

What are Dynamic Components?
2 minutes 15 seconds

video by @SketchUp


Intro to Dynamic Components – A
8 minutes 52 seconds

video by @ SketchUp


Intro to Dynamic Components – B
1 minutes 18 seconds

video by @SketchUp


Intro to Dynamic Components – C
1 minutes 42 seconds

video by @SketchUp


Ruby Console

This code editor extension offers an easy-to-use and visually appealing way to write and modify Ruby scripts directly within SketchUp. These scripts can then be used to create geometry, add functionality or add data within the SketchUp 3D modelling environment.

Where to find:

Window > Ruby Console.

See an example process  how to use Ruby Console for ‘Sun Eye’ perspective views below:


Set your Model’s Location [Geo-locate or enter Long/Lat etc manually to set it in Australia (or wherever)].

Use the Shadow-Settings to set the dates/times you want.

Save each of these dates/times as individual Scene Tabs as you go – perhaps naming them with the date/time for ease of reference later.

Change to one of the Scenes.

Copy/Paste this code into the Ruby Console + <enter>


The view will be reset to look from the sun, towards the centre of the model’s boundaries, with a parallel-projection camera [i.e. no-perspective] and then it zooms extents to show all of the model.

Right-click to Update that Scene Tab, to save the new camera details.

Repeat for each Scene Tab in turn…

You can adjust the amount of the model seen in the view using ‘zoom’ in/out – don’t use ‘orbit’ etc as this will mess up the view angle.

Finally you have a set of Scene Tabs each looking at the model from the sun at different times/dates…



Objects Facing Camera
2 minutes 57 seconds

video by @SketchUp


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