10 top insights on mistakes people make on SketchUp from our resident SketchUp expert
In the past, I have written on tricks to use to become a more proficient SketchUp user. Using these short lists, you can find ways around the program you didn’t know of previously culminating in you becoming a better SketchUp user who is more comfortable with the program. But, what about the things that fall through the cracks? What are mistakes commonly made that you should avoid? It’s said the best offense is a good defense, so here is a list of the 10 most common mistakes people make on SketchUp and how to avoid them.
10 Mistakes People Make on SketchUp
1. Overusing styles
Below you can see an example of a perfectly good model that has become near impossible to decipher due to overuse of the styles menu.
Just as with Photoshop, it’s very easy to overuse filters to make an over processed image – so please keep it simple and clean when using the styles window. Often I have found, simple is much better.
2. Not Utilizing No-Render Models
There exist some great programs out there for post processing your models to really bring your textures to life. But those programs can be either a time sink or too expensive, among other things. So how do you avoid the mistake of wasting your time on some models that you just need to pump out and look good? Simple, turn your shadows on and then turn edges and profile off (view>edge style). As seen in the before and after above, these couple simple clicks can bring depth and reality to your image.
3. Not Customizing Your Exported Images Size
When exporting 2D graphics of your models sometimes the render can come out too pixelated or too small for your liking. To avoid this, you can actually customize the dpi of your images. Just click the options button while exporting, and you’re presented with a text box that you can manually enter what you would like.
4. Not Using Google Services – Google Earth
Google is a powerful ecosystem that we almost all use every day, they even owned SketchUp for a time during which they integrated some of their services into the program, most namely Google Earth. Often I have seen people model their sites in empty space, and not provide themselves context of the real world by simply popping the geographic location from Google Earth. Merely go to File>Geo-location>Add location.
You can even add terrain through Google Earth to bring your model even more into the real world. Also, as an aside Google Earth Pro is now free to download which was previously a multi-hundred dollar program so go give it a download!
This one I cannot harp on enough. To have an efficient model, you need to be efficient with your layers. Mislabeling, creating too many layers and not turning them off when not need, or putting everything on one layer will make SketchUp bogged down, hard to use, and all around not your friend.
Just as with Photoshop you need to have good layer management to make editing your images easiest. Same goes with SketchUp. Put everything in its right place, label everything, and turn the layer off when you don’t need it.
6. Not Taking Advantage Of The Multitude Camera Types
Just as a photographer will use different lenses and camera types for different subjects, you want to do the same with SketchUp. Using different camera types for bigger vistas will make your models become more life-like and professional. The standard camera is excellent, but you need a diverse toolset to make your renders look the best.
7. For Beginners – Not Using The Instructor And Other Teaching Formats
One of the first tools I used while learning SketchUp was the Instructor tool located in the window tab. This instructor does a proficient job of showing you options on specific tools you’re using at the time.
I cannot recommend this tool enough for beginners, it’s nice and simple and easy to follow. Don’t forget a host of other a resources out there to help you learn SketchUp. You don’t need to go through learning this program alone.
More Awesome SketchUp Related Articles:
- 10 SketchUp Hacks That Will Turn You Into a SketchUp Ninja
- 10 Incredible Plugins for Sketchup
- Top 10 Hints & Tips For SketchUp
8. Not Using The Position Camera Tool For First Person Perspective
When trying to gain first person perspective I’ve seen people often zoom and orbit into a spot they think would be right. But, SketchUp offers a tool that will put your camera automatically 5’6” (average human eye height) above the ground. This can give first person perspectives a much more realistic sense, as other humans looking at it will be able to relate the height of everything else in the model.
9. Use Of Groups And Components
This is one I see constantly, people just building on and on – adding to previously geometric pieces. Utilizing groups and components will make your life much easier when needing to edit or select specific parts of your model.
The main difference between a group and components is that you should use grouping when wanting to select many things at once that are independently editable (such as my multiple copies of the person in the image) and components when you want to be able to edit all of the pieces at once (if I alter one of the cubes, they all will change accordingly). Using groups and components in conjunction with layers, SketchUp will finally seem like it works for you.
10. Autosave And Backup, You’ll Need It
Just as with any computer program, things can sometimes go awry and you need a backup file or an autosave to not of lost any of your progress. I’ve seen people not change this setting – or accidently turn it off and lose all of their work before. Please go to windows>preferences>general to make sure you are safe. The biggest mistake is losing something you just spent 2 hours working on due to a system crash.
Please take into account all of these common mistakes and capitalize on them to make yourself a more refined and knowledgeable SketchUp user. And remember, it’s basically Legos for the computer so try to have fun!