SketchUp – Making Your Model A Fluid, 3 Dimensional Design Tool
In the last few weeks, Spacesmith has been producing double-digit numbers of in-house 3D interior renderings. We have created the kind of high-quality, photorealistic interior renderings you might see in a design magazine or final presentation board.
Through simple trial and error, I have realized that there is a way to build a 3D model that will last as a design tool throughout the entire project and remain a functional design tool, no matter how many changes are made. A simple interior SketchUp model takes valuable time to build when our ideas are in constant flux, being refined and transformed into real-life design solutions. The model needs to change at the same pace with new ideas that are sometimes sudden and often difficult to predict. This is when your model and the amount of time spent to maintain it becomes vulnerable and the chance of making an unfixable mess increases dramatically.
Organization is absolutely the key to keeping your 3D SketchUp model performance efficient throughout the entire design process while maximizing functionality and minimizing Bug Splats. Creating groups and components is vital to preserving the ability to easily making revision after revision without negatively affecting any of the adjoining objects within your model. Although SketchUp layers are a commonly used organizational tool, they are very limited and can only control selection and visibility. Components and groups, however, control the entire structure of a model and also have a built-in Hide and Unhide feature that can be easily accessed via the Outliner window or by right-clicking an object and selecting it from the pop-up menu. This makes utilizing them correctly a much more powerful and necessary means of saving valuable time by making your SketchUp model work for you rather than against you.
SketchUp: Using Groups and Components
A good example of correctly using groups and components is with columns. They repeat over and over again, hinder visibility and selection of all other objects around them, and can have a number of different finish material applied depending on their location within your model.
Each identical structural column should be a copied instance of the original one you create: IMAGE #1
The individual structural column components should then be combined into a group: IMAGE #2
Any decorative identical column enclosures should also be created as components: IMAGE #3, then combined into a group in the same manner: IMAGE #4
These two groups of column geometry components should then be made into an even bigger main group called Columns: IMAGE #5
Don’t forget to the take the time to name groups and components properly when creating them. It’s easy to ignore this when you’re in a rush but will definitely become a problem later on if it's not organized. After you’ve created and named your components and groups you can modify their size or material applications quickly and easily.
Double click the main group of columns and continue to double click until you have the individual component you want to work with selected. If you can’t select the object with your mouse, which is pretty common in SketchUp, you can also select them from the Outliner window as mentioned before (see image #5).
Once you have done this you can apply your materials or modify the selected component, and all other instance components will update automatically. This technique will save so much time and also allow you to create a number of different design options for the columns that can be turned on in one view and hidden in the next while the structural portion of the column remains static in both.
Columns, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, and furniture should almost always be made into a group, while any identical objects in your model should made into components. This will make working in your SketchUp model easy as it gets bigger and more complex. The more groups and components you make based on how you want your model to function, the less likely you will be to accidentally delete or unknowingly shift things, fracture smooth surfaces, or have trouble selecting something while also selecting everything around it.
Hopefully, with this practice standardized, we will soon have a spot in our design toolbox for SketchUp to be used regularly right next to our colored pencils and markers.
To learn more about how to understand, create, and manage groups and components click the link below…
Jaime Mastrogiovanni, Senior Designer