If you’ve discovered 3D printing and admired so many of the exciting new innovations that designers of all skill sets and ages are creating today, 3D modeling may pique your interest and be on your list of things to check out. This may be a new skill you want to put at the top of your exploration list, as it will greatly expand your world of creativity, preparing you for the next stage of 3D printing.
i.materialise believes this so strongly that it recently published a beginner’s guide, offering “How to Create Your First 3D Model in SketchUp”. Now’s a great time to pick up a list of tips that will put you on the right track – in a non-intimidating way – as you begin to master this software used for prototypes, models, functional parts and more. SketchUp is famous for its ease of use and low learning curve. All3DP’s SketchUp expert Mich Judelag put together this tutorial that walks you through the basics of 3D modeling, helping you design your first 3D model.
You can expect to learn how to translate 2D shapes into 3D and then manipulate them in different ways, from moving and pushing to scaling and copying. Seventeen steps follow to send you on your way to design excellence.
The first step
You’ll need to decide which level of SketchUp you want to download, then do it. Assuming you’re shooting for the novice range, you’ll need the starter software, which is free; However, if you want to take the more advanced route from here, you can download SketchUp Pro instead, enjoying more latitude in actions, such as scaling, exporting, and editing. import from CAD.
Select your workspace in the opening window, starting with Simple Template – Meters.
“Click on the model, then click the ‘Start Using SketchUp’ button in the bottom right of the window,” says Judelag. “I recommend checking the box in the bottom left that says ‘Always show on startup’ as this will allow you to select any template each time you open the app.”
It’s a great place to learn about the tools you’ll be working with, as you see a list of toolbars, choosing “Large set of tools”, for a versatile offering of tools to help you start your first 3D model (be sure here to uncheck the other toolbars).
You’ll see red, green, and blue axes that not only allow you to see your model from different directions, but also use “snap” for alignment. At this point you can start creating 2D shapes.
Here you’ll want to start practicing drawing the basics like lines, rectangles, and circles. Check out the full tutorial for step-by-step instructions on how to use each one, but for the most part it’s a very intuitive exercise that starts with clicking the icon of your choice.
Learn to use Pan and Orbit for basic movements. Panning is as simple as clicking the appropriate icon, clicking to set the origin, then holding down the mouse button and dragging.
“It will allow you to shift your point of view,” says Judelag.
For Orbit, click the icon, then click anywhere you can hold, drag and rotate the entire view. If you wish, you can also do this with the mouse wheel.
It’s very important to make sure you’re familiar with Edit > Undo, as well as Alt + Backspace, which also reverse a step. Don’t forget to save your work with File > Save or Ctrl + S.
Here you can start creating 3D models by zooming and highlighting the plane of a shape.
“When you see the plane highlighted (i.e. when the plane shows a dotted texture), click on it and simply drag it up,” advises Judelag. “Click the left mouse button again to set the height of your cylinder, cube or cuboid. Or enter the height after the first click.
At this point, your 2D shape has been converted and you have your first 3D object!
This tool allows you to check the dimension by simply choosing the appropriate icon. You can also use the tape measure and protractor tools here (found in the lower right corner), and it’s recommended that you spend some time experimenting with how they work as they can be very useful to you as you go along. your progress.
Moving objects is very easy as all you need to do is select the object (with the selection tool) and then surround it with a “selection net”. Click on the move tool, click on the object and drag.
This is another very simple exercise, which you should be comfortable with if you are already familiar with a computer. Simply select the object, then press Ctrl. Once you left-click, you can paste the copied template where you want it to go.
If you need to erase lines or planes, click on your eraser tool, then click on the areas that need to be erased. (You can also select a line with the Select tool and then press the Delete button).
By using the 2D text tool, you will be able to both determine the base surfaces of a plane and place labels. The 3D text tool will actually allow text to be incorporated into the design.
“As always, it makes sense to just play around with these two tools,” says Judelag.
If you’re ready to say goodbye to a part of your model and need to use the cut tool, it’s as easy as using the Push/Pull tool, click on the shape and then to “push” down to make the cut, finalized in one click . See the tutorial for more detailed instructions.
The arc tool, again, you should find it easy and fun to work with, but definitely try to work with it a little beforehand. Here you can draw a curve:
“With the tool selected, click on one of the corner points of a cube. Then click somewhere on one of its upper axes and draw an arc. Sound complicated? It’s easy once we’ve tried it!” said Judelag.
Here you get started with scaling your model by choosing the tool and then selecting from the various scaling points. The green dots help you manipulate the shape for both scaling and stretching.
“If you want to enlarge or reduce our model while maintaining the ratio and proportion of our rectangular box (this is called uniform scaling), you must click on one of the 8 points of ‘angle of the rectangular box,’ explains Judelag. “You will see your scale value in the lower right corner of the window. A value of 0.50 means you are scaling your model down to 50%.”
You’ve probably heard that the orientation of your model is very important. Here, the rotary tool will help you if your model is oriented the wrong way. All you have to do after selecting the tool is click on the top of the shape to “set your axis”, then move your cursor so that it points to the green or red axis, creating thus a baseline. At this point you can rotate your model. You can also enter a numeric value for the angle.
After going through all these steps and seeing how simple SketchUp is, you probably understand why so many designers insist on using it. If you want to go ahead and 3D print your model but aren’t quite sure how to do it, check out the next tutorial in this series, which provides a simple introduction. Discuss your thoughts on this in the Sketchup 3D software tutorial forum on 3DPB.com.
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