Google Sketch Up Basics

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It's been fun to finally have a place where I can just post things because I want to without cluttering up my plan posts for those of you who just want to build (no offense taken).  I feel more connected to this blog now that I've been writing Not Much posts that are just that - about the Not Much going on in our lives.

In addition to writing about our lifestyle, I also want to post tutorials to help you improve your own blogs, home businesses, lifestyle, and of course, Google Sketchup Tutorials.   Yes, I want you to be able to design your own plans just like I do!

This is the original tutorial I put together a while back, but has gotten lost, so I want to start by first reposting it as the first of Google Sketchup Tutes.  Much more to come!

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Probably the most frequent question I get is "What program do you use to design plans?"

I'm so thrilled to tell you that I use Google Sketchup, a free program that is powerful and easy to use.  In step 1, I give directions on downloading.

And then that question is usually followed by how can I learn to use Google Sketchup?  There are thousands of tutorials and videos online to help you learn, and I hope you take a second to browse through these tutorials.  But I wanted to put together a super simple tutorial that can take someone from not knowing what program I use to designing a simple plan in the shortest amount of time.  I hope this tutorial accomplishes just that.

Step 1: Download Google Sketchup

Google Sketchup is a free CAD (Computer Aided Drafting) program that is both easy to use and amazingly powerful.  I downloaded Sketchup for the first time last year and am still learning new things about it.  Go to http://sketchup.google.com/intl/en/download/ and click the big blue button and download Sketchup 8.  Extract and install Google Sketchup on your hard drive.  Open up Sketchup 8.

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Step 2: Choose a Template

This step isn't super important, but you want to make sure that you are working in the correct dimensional system.   Click on Choose Template. Select Plan View - Feet and Inches. Click on Start Using Sketchup. Later on, we'll discuss customizing the template to fit your needs.  But I'm just going to get you drawing in this tutorial.  NOTE: If you are in the metric system, you will need to select Millimeters and adjust my instructions accordingly.

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Step 3: Tweaking the Template

Now we gotta get the work environment set up for drawing.  From the drop down menu at the top, select Window > Model Info

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Still part of Tweaking the Template

Select Units from the left menu, and then select Fractional from the Format Menu.  Close the window, and you are now drawing in inches.

Speaking of which . . . what should we draw?  How about this one? Simple enough.

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Step 4: Drawing a Rectangle

The default view is the top view, so we are looking down on the project.  After examining the desired project, it looks like it's made of 1x12s and is 36" high.  Think like you are building the furniture for reals and draw in those same steps.  So let's start with the sides.  Click the Rectangle Tool (shortcut is to hit the R key).  Then click the rectangle tool on the crosshairs in the center of the program.  Expand the rectangle out, but don't click.  Instead, type your dimensions, followed by enter.  Dimensions should be typed comma seperated, no space between dimensions.  You can either use decimal (.75,11.5) or fractional (3/4,11 1/2).  Notice with fractional, there is a space between whole numbers and fractions.

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Step 5: Pulling a Rectangle into a Board

We've got the board end, now we just need to make that board the desired length.  This is a really cool feature of Google Sketchup.  Select the Push/Pull tool or Press P for the short key.  Click on the face of the rectangle and pull it toward you. Don't click.  Instead, type in the number 36 and hit enter. Now you have a 1x12 that is 36" long!

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Step 6: Orbit Project

The orbit tool (circled above) is a tool that will turn your 3D project in all directions.  Click on it and turn your project so that you are looking at it straight on instead of a top view.  You can orbit your project at any time, and zoom in and out by scrolling your mouse or clicking on the magnifying glass.  The shortkey for orbit is the O key.

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Step 7: Making the Board a Component

Each board in your project needs to be a component.  If not, Sketchup thinks you are still editing the board, and will merge boards and things get messy.  Don't worry, you can still edit components by double clicking them.  So press the space bar to get back to your selector tool.  With an arrow for you pointer, double click the board until all sides are selected, as shown in the diagram above.  Hit the G key and press enter. NOTE: You can name your component, for example, this one might be named 1x12 side board.  Now your board is it's own component.

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Step 8: Make the Shelf

That wasn't so bad, eh?  Now we just gotta draw the shelves in the same manner.  Start by drawing a rectangle (R Key) starting at the bottom corner of the side board that is 11 1/2" x 3/4", and draw the rectangle on the shelf, not on the ground beside the shelf.  Then pull (P Key) that rectangle out 40.5 and press enter. Then double click the shelf until all edges are selected and make it a component (G Key). Shelf is done!

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Step 9: Other Side

Something I've learned is it's best to not redraw components, because if you copy components, when you edit one of the components, all of the copies are also edited.  Since the sides are identical in this project, Press the Space Bar to get the selector tool and Click on the Side to select it. Press CTRL-C to copy the side and CTRL-V to paste it. When you paste, you will automatically toggle to the Move tool.  Move the second side in place, snapping to the corner of the bottom. If you don't get it on the first try, don't despair, you can move again.  You can even orbit and zoom in, then toggle back to the select tool and select the side, toggle to the move tool and move the side in place.  Take your time, the only super important part is making sure your corners are lined up right (just like you need to do when building).

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Step 10: Placing Shelves

Copy and paste the bottom shelf to the top as shown in the diagram.  For the middle shelf, you will need to place it in the center.  Select the Tape Tool (T Key) and use it just like a tape measure.  Click on the bottom inside corner of the side as shown above and measure upward along the side of the board in a straight line. Don't click.  Instead, type 17 5/8 and press enter. You should see a guide point. Copy and paste a shelf to this guide point.

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Step 11: Dividers

In the same way as you drew the sides and shelves, draw a cubby divider, make it a component, and place it inside the shelves.  Copy and paste three more as shown above.  The dividers will be spaced 13" apart. CHEAT: Draw a cubby by drawing a rectangle on the inside of the side, between the shelves.  Then pull that rectangle out 3/4 to get your divider.  Make it a component and select the move tool.  Move the component along the shelf, but don't click or press enter.  Instead, type in 13 and press enter.

TIP: You can select more than one shelf at a time by holding down the Shift Key as you select.

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Step 12: Drawing Trim

Now draw a 1x2 as shown above and make it a component.  Copy and paste the rest of the trim in place.

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Step 13: Hiding Guide Points and Axes

Now let's make it pretty.  Simply select View and click Axes and Guides to uncheck and the guide points and Axes will disappear.

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Step 14: Materials and Color

You can easily color each component by selecting the bucket tool (B Key). The materials menu will automatically appear, or you can select Windows > Materials and the Materials Menu will appear.  Select the desired color from the menu and then click on the component to fill it.

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Step 15: Dimensions

You can find dimensions for building by simply selecting the Dimension Tool from the Tools Menu or pressing the D Shortkey.  You can delete dimensions by pressing the space bar to get to the selector tool, selecting the dimensions and pressing delete.

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Step 16: Exporting Diagrams

Now that you've drawn your project, you might want to print it out or export it as a graphic to share with others.  You can publish your plans directly to Ana White.com using this easy form. Size your window and zoom and orbit your project to what you want exported.  Google Sketchup is going to export what you see in the window, so size appropriately.  You can select File > Export > 2D Graphic for a image graphic or you can Print to take the project to your saw.

If you would like to separate out your steps into individual drawings, you can build your project in layers, and then simple hide and display layers.  For a small simple project like this one, I simply save it, then delete boards.  Then I go CTRL-Z to undo the deletes after exporting the graphics.  Not the right way, but sometimes it just makes sense to not deal with layers.

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I hope this tutorial has been useful to you!  Wishing you much success!

Ana

Comments

I have enjoyed reading your not much posts, I really loved the one where you showed of how you cut your fire wood and haul your logs! Your sweet little girl must love all the fun things she gets to do, my boys would be all over that! I appreciate this tutorial! I have been wanting to check out google sketch up and now I might have the confidence to try! Thanks again Ana!
Mindi

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I'm loving your "not much" posts, too. I find myself checking to see if you've posted anything here before I go to look at the new plans and brag posts. It's fun to read about your everyday life up there in God's Country. The pictures are breathtaking! Thanks for sharing with us, Ana.
Oh, and I was just noticing that the brag posts are only one away from 2000. That's a LOT of handmade furniture that has been built because of your willingness to share encouragement and easy DIY plans with the rest of us. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I've really loved your NotMuch posts, Ana, and I didn't know if there was a way to add them to Google Reader. I didn't know about them until I clicked over here to look through the plan catalog for a window seat design, and I'd really love to have them pop up while I'm drinking my morning coffee! :)

Really enjoying these types of posts :) I have a few ideas of furniture I'd like to build, partially inspired by your plans and partially to fit my needs. A quick headstart in using the program will definitely help me to put my ideas onto desktop and make a lot more sense for my brother to help me :)
Thanks a lot for everything. Hopefully you can get back into your momplex construction soon. I'm sure that's taking up a lot of mental energy, just thinking through all that needs to be done without being able to do anything about it [we are under construction too, that's how I feel].

I'm liking these posts too! At least they are holding me over until the momplex saga continues, lol. I've taken a little break with my own blog because I let the pressure to "produce" overwhelm my desire to just enjoy writing and sharing (which was the reason I started it in the first place). I'm sure your demand to build more plans can get tiring and definitely feel like "work;" I have the luxury of getting back to my blog when I'm good and ready...at least that's what I tell myself and cause nobody pays me, haha.
I certainly enjoy hearing what's going on in your neck of the woods...I've been stalking your blog for a year now, and there's only so much furniture to build. It's nice to have something nice to read and discover when it's too crappy outside to run my saw.

I'm having a really hard time getting my sketched to line up correctly!!! UGH! Each of my "boards" in sketch up aren't level at the top! One is off by a tid bit and I can't get it to line up with the rest. ANy tips on moving each component more precisely!?

Just found your website and I am actually very happy about it becasue the content is very interesting. Have learned a couple of new things from this article which definitely will come in handy in the feature so thank you for that.
Best Regards,
dieta dukana

I'm having a really hard time getting my sketched to line up correctly!!! UGH! Each of my "boards" in sketch up aren't level at the top! One is off by a tid bit and I can't get it to line up with the rest. ANy tips on moving each component more precisely!?

Just found your website and I am actually very happy about it becasue the content is very interesting. Have learned a couple of new things from this article which definitely will come in handy in the feature so thank you for that.
Dieta dukana

Just found your website and I am actually very happy about it becasue the content is very interesting. Have learned a couple of new things from this article which definitely will come in handy in the feature so thank you for that.
Dieta dukana

Wow! This is cool! I am going to download the Google Sketch Up tutorial and set up my own designs. Thanks for the info.
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Just found your website and I am actually very happy about it becasue the content is very interesting. Have learned a couple of new things from this article which definitely will come in handy in the feature so thank you for that.
Best Regards,
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Anybody know why my board is not like the diagram Ana shows in step 8 where I click in the corner that I'm suppose to begin my rectangle and enter the dimensions 11 1/2 X 3/4, and my shelf that I'm trying to add doesn't look anything like Ana's. It looks as though it wants to draw it on the red axis line going out 11 1/2" then 3/4" in the green axis line.

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I've truly cherished your Notmuch posts, Ana, and I didn't have even an inkling if there was an approach to add them to Google Reader. I didn't have the foggiest idea about them until I clicked here to look through the arrangement index for a window seat outline. Click here

I've truly cherished your Notmuch posts, Ana, and I didn't have even an inkling if there was an approach to add them to Google Reader. I didn't have the foggiest idea about them until I clicked here to look through the arrangement index for a window seat outline. Click here