Virtually at home

Virtually at home
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First Published: Thu, Sep 11 2008. 12 52 AM IST

Updated: Thu, Sep 11 2008. 12 52 AM IST
SketchUp is easy to learn. Roll over a button to display the name of a tool. Standard view and display tools are on the top bar, tools to create and view an entity are on the side bar.
Orbit tool:Rotate your line-of-sight around the model by simply holding and dragging. You can also hold down the mouse wheel or the middle mouse button to achieve the same result.
Zoom tool: Click and drag to zoom in or out of a particular section.
Pan tool: Scroll your view by clicking and dragging.
Pencil tool: To draw, press and hold the left mouse button. The length of the line is displayed on the bottom right. As you pull the line parallel to one of the axes (red, green or blue), it takes the colour of that axis. Release the button when the line is long enough, or type in the required length. This appears in a box on the side. A press and drag creates a single line; you can create a series of lines by clicking on end points. By hitting <ESC>, you can exit the tool .
As you move the Pencil tool over a line, a red point shows it is “On edge”, green indicates “End point”, blue indicates “Midpoint”. A coloured dotted line shows axis direction. A handy feature in SketchUp is “colour by axis” (select Windows/Display settings/Edge color/Color by Axis). Any edges not in red, blue or green aren’t at right angles.
Push/Pull tool: Press and drag a surface to extrude a flat surface into a 3D volume. You can also type in a depth (as with line length).
Rectangle tool: Click and drag to draw it, or click two diagonal points to create a rectangle. The closed shape is automatically filled.
Erase tool: You can use this to combine or “heal” two coplanar surfaces into one. Note that removing edges causes attached surfaces to be destroyed. Multiple edges can be erased by rubbing while holding down the mouse button; when you release it, the elements are erased.
Tape Measure tool: Creates a dashed line that acts like an edge you can use for inferences or snapping to. Click and drag off the edge to pull off a parallel distance. You can type in the offset value during or after.
Protractor tool: This tool aligns surfaces to a plane you define. Select the centre point for the protractor. Then select a second point. The line joining these becomes the baseline. Now swing the cursor to the desired angle.
Follow Me tool: A surface can be extruded along a path using this tool. Click on the surface and drag the cursor over an edge path to follow (all edges on the path must touch end-to-end). You can also pre-select edges with the Select tool (click on each), then switch to Follow Me tool and click on the surface to be extruded.
Offset tool: This increases or decreases the original offset of a surface. Click on the surface to select it. A red inference dot shows you the edge from where offset will be measured. Simply move outward to increase offset, inward to reduce. Click once more to end the operation. To repeat the operation on another object of the same shape, double click on it.
Paint Bucket tool: Simply choose a swatch from the material library and paint it on edges and surfaces—just like colouring in. You can also create a new material or texture and assign an image to it.
Rotate tool: Select your object by clicking or drag a selection window around it. Now click the Rotate tool. Your cursor aligns to any surface you hover over, adopting the colour of any axis it is at right angles to. To rotate the object, click to set the centre of rotation (this need not be on a surface inside the object to rotate). Then move the cursor off and click to set the other end of your rotation baseline. Now move your cursor around the screen to see your model rotate around the centre of rotation. Click to release it.
Scale tool: If you click on a flat surface with this tool, eight green boxes appear at its corners. These are scaling grips. Hover over one to see its opposing vector, too. Click on one and move the cursor to reshape the object. Hold down <Shift> to scale in either direction.
Objects can be grouped into a single component. Select the surfaces with the Move tool, right-click and choose “Make Component”. The red tick marks act as rotation points for spinning a component. All components, including SketchUp’s original library, are in Windows/Components. To cut away a single piece of a component for editing, select it, right-click and click “Make Unique”.
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First Published: Thu, Sep 11 2008. 12 52 AM IST